When adults believe teenagers are dancing too provocatively at a high school prom, threatening to turn the event into a Kardashian family reunion or a John Edwards campaign staff meeting, there are several acceptable ways to deal with the situation.
The adults can laugh and show some tolerance, reminding themselves that generational differences will always exist and that, by golly, their own parents believed the Beatles signaled the end of the world. Or the adults can discreetly ask the prom dancers to lighten up and, not wanting to ruin their big night, move on to more important chaperone duties. This would include occasionally taking the pot-sniffing beagles outside for some fresh air and making sure the entire chess club is not lying face-down in the punch bowl.
However, some experts say the best way for adults to deal with intimate prom dancing is to call the teenage girls "whores and sluts" and spray the young people's crotch regions with powerful Lysol-brand disinfectant to kill, in strict medical terms, the cooties.
Welcome to the 2012 Manitou Springs High School prom where, according to many witnesses, a pair of mothers — one a former school board member — volunteering as chaperones decided the dancing had reached near-mating levels, and took the widely accepted "whore and Lysol approach."
The annual prom seemed to be going along just fine, with the kids doing all the, uh, usual Manitou things — dancing, laughing, reading each other's palms, waving a wing of bat over geography teacher Mr. Schmidlap in an effort to turn him into a duck, etc.
But then grown-ups got involved. The two parent chaperones, Jennifer Farmer and Hannah Rockey, apparently began barking at the kids for wild dancing. One of the mothers, according to a police report, said the kids were dancing "like they're having sex with their clothes on." (Very personal footnote: I tried having sex with my clothes on a few weeks ago. The first problem came when I got my trousers snagged on the rear-view mirror. Then, while trying to free myself, I triggered the airbag. Fortunately I was alone.)
Anyway, Farmer and Rockey accosted the dancers. Disinfectant spray filled the air. In addition to crotch-spraying, the mist got into some kids' eyes, noses and throats. One student filed a police report against the two mothers. According to police, seven other teens said the name-calling and disinfectant-spraying took place. The two chaperones were charged with harassment — a charge chosen because making a horse's ass of yourself in public is not a crime. (See U.S. Congress.) Both women have court dates.
"At this time I'm under legal counsel and I can't say anything about what happened that night," Farmer said to Denver TV station KMGH, her only comment to media. She probably didn't mean to say she was "under legal counsel" because that sounds so dirty. (Farmer was elected and re-elected to Manitou's school board, apparently because Hector the Crazy Clown didn't want to run.)
The lawyer representing the other chaperone, Rockey, told KMGH "there was no Lysol" and went on to say that the law firm was conducting its own investigation and that perhaps another brand of air freshener was used to spray the dancers. (In legal terms this is known as piling uppus da billibus hoursus.)
From Manitou Springs School District 14 Superintendent Ed Longfield, in a statement to media: "The district wants its students to have a fun, safe and memorable experience while attending special events such as prom and regrets if any student's experience was negatively affected by any unauthorized parent chaperone actions."
Translation: We, as educators and administrators, do not spray our kids with disinfectant because they dance funny.
Farmer and Rockey could face up to six months in jail if convicted.
And I, of all people, am certainly in no position to tell other people what to do. (See pants snagged on rear-view mirror.) But if the two women thought the prom had some wild and inappropriate behavior, they should bring a keener sense of reality with them to incarceration.
Along with several hundred cans of Lysol. Or bear spray.
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