Posted by TheYank at 10/9/2009 6:13 PM EDT

I've lived in Ireland for 18 years now and during that time I've experienced pretty much every big Irish occasion - baptisms, weddings, funerals - all of them but one. Until last night, when my daughter went to her 'debs', which is the Irish for prom (not really - I made that up).

So, how does the Irish debs compare with the American prom? Well, the debs is basically a senior prom. It's a formal dance, where the girls wear long dresses and the boys wear tuxedos.

Luckily for my daughter's date it's not 1981. He was wearing a classy-looking black tux with a black bow tie and plain (enough) white shirt. When I went to my junior prom (I skipped the senior prom) I wore a hideous baby blue tux with with a baby blue shirt with ruffles ... ... horrific. Thinking back to that outfit is like a bad dose of LSD - the flashbacks are unbearable.

Yeah, the 'debs' is basically the same idea as the prom, only you don't go to the debs while you're in high school (secondary school), but about 4 months after you've finished there. That's the strangest thing to my mind.

These kids are already well ensconced in their new, college lives yet they have to set aside a night - a weeknight too, which rules out going to classes for a day and a half - to go to their first reunion. It's like a combination 4 month reunion and a prom. Strange. Yet, other than the one girl who's now going to college in America, all of my daughter's class showed up last night.

Having such a formal dance four months after graduating would never work in America because high school kids scatter as soon as the summer's over, heading to colleges near and far.

At first I thought I'd wax lyrical on all the differences between an American prom and an Irish debs, but the truth is I know nothing of proms in America other than my own.
I have no idea if it's normal for parents to have parties in their houses on prom night - parties that continue even after their son or daughter has left for their big shindig. We didn't do that, but many (all?) the other parents apparently did. (I was just glad that I only missed two innings of the Phillies & Rockies.)
I have no idea if parents would take days off work and take their other children out of school on prom day as parents of my daughter's friends did yesterday. (We didn't.)
And, I have no idea if there are places in America where kids go to four, five, six or more proms as some around us are doing? The fact that so many of the boys and girls go to single sex schools means that some of each get asked to the debs at a number of schools. I don't know how any parents could for their daughter to go to 5 debs - these things are expensive.
Where I grew up there was one school for all the boys and girls in about a 10 mile radius. There was one prom on offer and I don't think any parents had parties that continued on after the prom-goers had left. But, for all I know, that could be the norm in other parts of America or even New York State. Maybe over the last 28 years the way proms work has changed in my town. No idea, but if they have I think they - like the debs - use a bit of down-sizing.