To Pop the Question, Kids Are Thinking Big

By Laura Sessions Stepp
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2006

Dan Vicco couldn't keep his mind off Alex Wahl. He'd watch her puzzle over math problems and sprint down the lacrosse field. He admired her blond good looks and relished her sharp mind. They talked easily about their favorite bands, personal problems and college sports.

He started thinking about their future.

He thought about it on a trip to San Francisco as they walked together on a brilliant morning near the Golden Gate Bridge. He considered it when they went to see an Oakland A's baseball game. He even approached stadium authorities that day asking if they would flash his question up on the big screen. Nope, they said. Requests must be submitted in writing well in advance of a game.

That night, he took the plunge. In the ballroom of a Hilton hotel, as hundreds of other couples danced to the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps," he cajoled the deejay into handing him the microphone and popped the question.

"Alex, will you go to prom with me?"

Pity the boys in today's celebrity-driven, over-the-top entertainment culture, where asking a girl to the prom has turned into performance art.

Prom proposals, as these humbling exercises are now called, have been more elaborate than ever this spring, according to's associate editor, Kate Wood. Promspot solicited examples this year and received hundreds of responses from teenagers all over the country, "even North Dakota," says Wood. "This is not just an East Coast/West Coast thing."

Clearly, though, it is a big thing. A chat with her girlfriends, a phone call or a quick conversation by the lockers between classes won't do anymore. That's so 2005. In 2006, the request has to be painted on a giant sign parked in front of her house or accompanied by 50 red candles, hundreds of Hershey Kisses and an original poem. Why? For the same reason guys go to prom: because girls want it that way.

Vicco, 18, a videographer for Annandale High School's A-Blast online newspaper, figured he didn't stand a chance with 18-year-old Wahl, a photographer, unless he did something really unusual. He comes from Indonesia and is a former ESL student. She's a Virginian, captain of the school swim team and plays varsity lacrosse. As he put it, "We didn't grow up in the same neighborhoods." As her friends told him, "It will be hard to get her to say yes."

He made his proposal last month at a national conference of student journalists.

How could she refuse?

"Yes," she said that night. And then louder, "Yes!"

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