There's hope for romance among the young

Five guys arrived at a high school softball game, each with a different purple letter spray-painted on their T-shirts.

Nothing unusual, because kids often spell out the team nickname — but wait, this wasn't a show of school spirit, this was a display of romance.

They stood midway through the game, revealing that together, the letters spelled out the four-letter name of one of the girls on the team with the fifth shirt displaying an exclamation point. Then they twirled and flashed the letters on their backs.

P-R-O-M-?

Of course, she said yes.

The answer was never really in doubt, but the guy felt compelled to come up with a unique way to ask. Apparently the days of simply walking up to a girl in the school hallway and saying, "You doing anything next Saturday?" have given way to far more fanciful requests.

Just last week, the Tampa Bay Times published a story about King High's Alex Chichkov, who had an airplane tow a banner over the school's Relay For Life Event with a special message for his girlfriend, Kayla Bennett: COME TO PROM WITH ME, KAYLA?

Of course, she said yes.

Other stories abound. My sons tell me that a guy had different people deliver single roses every class period to the girl he wanted to take to the prom. Attached to each rose was a card: Will ... You ... Go ... To ... The ... Prom ... With ... Me? The guy who was actually asking delivered the last rose.

Of course, she said yes.

Then there was the guy who had friends stand with single-word poster boards as the girl walked down the hall, realizing someone was asking her to the prom but not knowing who would be holding the last card that said, "Me?" when she turned the corner.

Of course, she said yes.

My colleague's little brother spelled out "Prom?" in his girlfriend's yard using lit candles. Another suitor spelled out his message by strategically jamming red solo cups into the fence at school.

And who could forgot James Tate, the Connecticut teen who spelled out his request in cardboard letters on a school wall last year. He got banned from the prom for defacing school property but eventually was reinstated after a Facebook campaign went viral. As for his girlfriend, Sonali Rodrigues?

Of course, she said yes.

I make note of this nouveau chivalry among the young because it's encouraging. These guys are bringing romance back.

In an age where social network conversations and uber texting seemingly undermine true love, maybe they have discovered that sincere public displays of affection earn meaningful adoration and that tough-guy personas yield nothing more than goofy pictures on Twitter.

Or perhaps I'm being too idealistic. One friend says this isn't romance reborn, it's pop culture persuasion that fuels the grandeur so they can make a splash on Facebook.

Maybe she's right. But for now I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and hoping the trend grows in numbers, not largesse.

An inexpensive but thoughtful act still can be significant.

A guy who baked a cake with the request written in icing seems more reasonable — and perhaps a little more heartfelt — than the student who drops a fortune on a far more expensive message.

In the end, kids need to draw an analogy to that cake when comparing over-the-top overtures to the simple ask. Fancy frosting and decorative flourishes can never mask bad taste, and sometimes the tastiest treats initially fall flat.

That's all I'm saying.

There's hope for romance among the young

04/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 5, 2012 5:30am]

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