Lesson from prom season: Boys, it’s time to learn to wear a suit

The other day, I passed a bunch of kids going to prom. The girls, in their gowns, with their hair fixed just so, were beautiful. The boys, in their rented tuxedos, looked like dorks. The girls carried themselves like women. The boys looked like dorks.

Mark Zuckerberg, May 2007
Mark Zuckerberg (Wikipedia)

I understand we’ve become a casual society, that it’s OK, apparently, for a CEO to wear a hoodie when he meets with Wall Street investors, but, boys, you really ought to learn to wear a suit.

It isn’t hard: Don’t slouch. Don’t horse around. Tuck in your shirt. Straighten your tie. Back up: Learn to tie a tie. Don’t wear a clip-on or that crappy bow tie with the elastic band that came with your rented tux. Tie it yourself. Don’t go for that end-of-the-day loose knot. You haven’t earned it. Straighten your tie.

I was a teenage boy once. I know it’s weird dressing up. It’s uncomfortable, and it makes you feel really self-conscious. I know a guy, his daughter bought a prom dress, went to the salon and was ready for prom when her date called to say he looked dumb in a tux and that he wasn’t going, and he didn’t.

Boys, don’t be that guy. Learn to wear a suit.

It’s important, because a guy in a suit looks like he knows what he’s doing. He looks like he’s in charge. He looks confident. Someday, you’ll want a job, a real job, and you’ll need to wear a suit and look good doing it, because, let’s face it, you’re not Mark Zuckerberg. You don’t have any billion-dollar ideas, and, even if you did, you wouldn’t have a clue about how to make them happen. You’re going to need a job, and to get a good job, you need to learn to wear a suit.

Khakis, a blue shirt and a Navy blazer don’t count as a suit.

Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story trailer

Years ago, I read something, attributed to Cary Grant. He was a movie star, and looked like it. He was the George Clooney of his day, only smooth, and he never played Batman, although he sure as hell would have made a great Bruce Wayne. Anyway, Cary Grant supposedly said a guy needs only one suit, but it had better be a good one. That’s good advice.

Trust me: You want Mark Zuckerberg’s money, but you need Cary Grant’s style.

Beloit, here’s a mindset list to help students understand their teachers

Every summer, Beloit College gets a fair amount earned media (what we’re calling free publicity these days) by releasing a “mindset list” on each year’s freshman class. [UPDATE: This year’s list came out Aug. 23 and is available here.]

It serves 2 purposes: to draw attention to Beloit College and to help faculty understand the point of view of a more-or-less typical 18-year-old.

Students in this year’s freshman class, the class of 2015, were born in 1993, meaning they’ve always had Comedy Central and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Faculty should be aware of this.

But students need to understand their professors, too.

I’m here to help.

Wikipedia says the median age for a full professor in the United States is about 55, so, class of 2015, this means there’s a chance your professors:

  • Can and do write cursive.
  • Don’t need a calculator to do basic math.
  • Still pay by check.
  • Send actual birthday and Christmas cards made of paper.
  • Send thank-you notes, also on paper.
  • Use cell phones, not smartphones.
  • Email but don’t text.
  • Have landlines.
  • With answering machines.
  • That save messages on cassette tapes.
  • Can’t use a gamepad.
  • Could barely use a joystick with 1 button.
  • Watch TV shows when they’re on instead of streaming them later.
  • Buy CDs.
  • Still use AltaVista.
  • Voted for Dukakis.
  • Mondale, too.
  • Don’t recognize the “celebrities” on the cover of People.
  • Don’t recognize the “celebrities” who host “Saturday Night Live.”
  • Don’t know any of the bands, either.
  • Are asleep before SNL comes on, anyway.
  • Gave up watching late-night TV after Carson quit.
  • Johnny Carson.
  • They don’t know Carson Daly.
  • Remembers when “Seinfeld,” “All in the Family” and “The Andy Griffith Show” weren’t in reruns.
  • Think they’re cool because they’re into bands like Green Day and No Doubt — the members of which are old enough to have children in the class of 2015.
  • Think they’re young because they’re younger than the hosts of “60 Minutes.” (Median age of the 4 hosts: 67).
  • Hate being older than the president of the United States. (Obama just turned 50.)
  • Resent you and your youthful looks and health.
  • Would just as soon flunk you as look at you.

Beloit’s ‘mindset list’ reminds freshmen their professors are old

Beloit College in Wisconsin has released its annual “mindset list.”

The list supposedly helps professors get a handle on this year’s freshman class. Beloit thoughtfully releases the list to the public to a) remind folks that Beloit College exists and b) give folks an excuse to talk about how they’re getting older.

It worked. I’d kind of forgotten about Beloit, but I remember it now.

Otherwise, though, I think the list does a better job of reminding freshmen their professors are old and out of touch than it does giving professors (and the rest of us) any insight into the Class of 2014.

Beloit notes, for example, that to a freshman, Bert Parks has always been dead. (Bert Parks, for anyone who might not know, hosted the Miss America pageant. He died in 1992.)

What struck me, though, is that Beloit seems to think college freshmen have any interest in beauty pageants to begin with. You know, Beloit, there’s a reason this year’s Miss America pageant ran on basic cable instead of one of the Big 4 networks.

Moving on.

No. 25 on Beloit’s list: “Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.” This is true (except for a few months there when it wasn’t), but I think professors should be aware that these kids today are more likely to watch Fallon or Kimmel than Leno or Letterman, and they’re more likely to watch them online than on TV in real time.

No. 27: “Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.” OK, but I think freshmen are as likely to download software as get it on a disc.

No. 32: “Czechoslovakia has never existed.” OK, I’ll give ’em that one.

Only one of the items on this year’s list accomplished Beloit’s unstated secondary goal of making me feel old.

No. 46: “Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.”

That one hurts.