the boy/girl sleepover

Do You Remember Your Prom’s After-Party?

Prom. Photo: Karen Kasmauski/Getty Images

Despite these terrifying and uncertain times, one national event has arrived right on schedule: prom. Every year in May, high schools across the country open their gymnasium doors to slightly tipsy teenagers for an end-of-term celebration that everyone will sort of remember ten years on. I know it’s prom season right now, because a few of those teenagers are making headlines for showing up in coffins for some reason, or for misguidedly asking adult celebrities to be their dates.

Do you remember what you did at your prom? And more importantly, did you go to the after-party?

You know, the BOY/GIRL SLEEPOVER????

Every time prom season rolls around, I reflect on the fight of my life: the months-long argument I had with my mom over whether or not I would be allowed to attend the prom after-party, which she and the other moms had scandalously christened, “the Boy/Girl Sleepover.”

Boys would be there. Girls would be there. Boys and Girls Together, Sleeping Over. Before anyone had dates or dresses, the fact of The Boy/Girl Sleepover was established: It would be at Amanda’s house, which had a pool.

Everyone in my tiny Catholic high school’s junior class was invited, and not going meant, oh my God, I don’t even know — going home at 11 p.m. with your parents? By March, everyone began formulating arguments or preparing elaborate, obvious lies about the nature of the event. (One friend recalls telling her parents that the girls would sleep inside the house, while the boys would stay in tents in the backyard.)

I did not have the option to lie, because Amanda’s mom called my mom and told her all about it. So I made my case: Everyone is going, I’m basically an adult already, there is definitely not going to be any alcohol, and if by some chance there is, I will have like, one beer max, to be polite. I repeated these airtight arguments and cried a lot every day for weeks.

My experience, I suspect, was not unique, as parent-child drama regarding after-prom parties continues to this day. Last year, Gawker published a series of unhinged emails from parents at an unnamed school who were furious after their teens surreptitiously rented a lake house for their Boy/Girl Sleepover. “This is a classic case of GROUP THINK,” one mom raged in an email to 60 other parents. The whole thing ended in tears.

My mom finally relented sometime in the last few days before my prom. I could go to the Boy/Girl Sleepover, she sighed, provided that I call her at midnight — from a landline — to check in. I was elated, then confused: I had spent so much energy convincing her that I needed to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event that I hadn’t spent much time considering what would actually happen when I did. I don’t think any of my girlfriends had, either. Were we supposed to try new drugs? Or jump off the roof into the pool? Or like, have sex with people?

When we arrived at Amanda’s house after prom, buzzed off Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Liqueur, the boys immediately abandoned us to smoke cigars with Amanda’s dad in the backyard. The girls gathered in the large basement bathroom to change into baby-blue Victoria’s Secret Pink sweatpants. We helped each other remove the bobby pins holding our painfully complicated updos together and plotted our next move: Maybe we should try smoking cigars? Or swim in the pool? Is anyone else actually sort of tired?

After some deliberation, we decided to put on a movie. The next thing I knew, we were peeling our faces off of oversized leather couches as the early morning light streamed in through the basement windows. We slept through the Boy/Girl Sleepover. Most of the boys had already gone home.

The lesson, I guess, is that children are a nightmare and adulthood is disappointing. What happened at your first Boy/Girl Sleepover? If you’ve got a good story, please email me at

Do You Remember Your Prom’s After-Party?