Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chaperones at the Waltz of Time

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chaperones at the Waltz of Time

Article excerpt

My church and school dances were infested with chaperones.

These ancient adults (they were all in their 30s) made sure we didn't have any fun.

The chaperones kept the boys from spiking the punch, the girls from dancing too close to the boys, and the couples going steady from sneaking out to neck.

In between, they nabbed smokers in the restrooms.

I considered them human prunes. If I ever got to be so old I could chaperone, I wouldn't spend my declining years in a church hall hung with crepe paper.

So I was shocked to discover my friend Terri was chaperoning dances for a city school and a youth group.

Why are you doing this? I asked her.

"Somebody has to," Terri said. "My daughter's teen group can't have dances without chaperones."

You spend Saturday night policing the punch?

"Are you kidding?" Terri asked. "They don't have punch at dances any more. They drink soda."

Do they spike the soda?

"No. So far, most of our kids are too dumb to figure out that one. Good thing, too. Their clothes are so baggy they could hide a case of booze in their pants."

It's all so changed.

Terri promised to tell me the duties of a modern chaperone, if I didn't use her real name. It would mean social death for her daughter.

In the old days, chaperones worried most about sex. When they saw a teen couple stuck together like Velcro, they tore them apart.

Now, necking is the least of a chaperone's worries.

"Sex? It's no big deal," Terri said. "At one dance, I saw two 15-year-olds draped over each other. We'd have been thrown out for necking in public, but the other chaperones told me to forget it. The kids were still in separate chairs."

The chaperones are watching for a more sobering evil.

`Alcohol. We're scared to death of it."

Literally.

"We can't have kids leave here drunk and get in an accident," Terri said.

The kids could get hurt. …

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