Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Being Prince Charming

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Being Prince Charming

Article excerpt

Every June, as I will next month, I attend a Christian writers' conference at Grove City College. Since most of the conferees are female, we stay in a women's dormitory on the Mercer County campus.

At one end of the dorm, a staircase winds gracefully from a second-floor balcony down to the lobby, and at the 2010 conference it dawned on me that female students in formal attire likely descend those stairs to meet their escorts. Indeed, it may have been constructed precisely so that they might make such a dramatic entrance.

What I wouldn't give to have been one of the men waiting at the foot of those stairs.

I realized then that I've always wanted to be Prince Charming or, at the very least, to play that role. The idea of dressing up for fancy soirees, which might bore other men to tears, actually appeals to me.

Influenced by the early-to-mid-1970s maxi-skirt craze and the relative maturity of the girls I knew then who wore them, I've developed a taste for sartorial elegance. To this day, any woman trying to get my attention has a far better chance of doing so wearing an evening gown than a bikini. In my case, less -- skin, that is -- has always been definitely more.

*

High school prom season is ending, of course. Occasionally on my way home from work I've witnessed groups of giggly teenagers in their finery lined up to enter what is now the Wyndham Grand hotel, just a block over from the Post-Gazette's main office.

For me, such a scene always resembles watching fish in an aquarium, my nose pressed against the glass. I missed my own prom, which was 33 years ago, because there was no one for me to invite. Yeah, some say the ritual is overrated and my closer male friends back then generally didn't go either; still, I would love to have attended.

However, at that time I didn't have many female friends, as a lot of girls I knew tended not to bother with boys at all unless they had a romantic interest. I didn't generate any of that, as far as I knew, plus I wasn't one of the popular kids.

After reading several books by author John Eldredge, who writes primarily on masculine development, I began to understand why not going to the prom left a hole in my soul.

The prom represents a passage into adulthood, for which you have to prepare -- learning how to drive a car, for instance, which was among the things my father never encouraged me to do. And adulthood inevitably means making hard choices about the future, including college, love and career.(While I'll never know for sure, I suspect that Dad, gone since 1993, feared -- justifiably -- that I would eventually leave if I ever started making my own decisions.)

Needless to say, many boys skip the prom even when they have the opportunity to go. Maybe they feel uncomfortable in a suit and tie. Maybe they don't want to deal with the expense. …

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