The Lost Art of Irony

In Melba, Idaho, a group of parents have organized a prom for the local high school because the “official” prom was cancelled due to the pandemic. While I empathize with the loss of such events like the prom and graduation exercises, the public health concerns behind the cancellations still exist. (Link to story)

While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we aren’t there yet.

Here’s the flyer for the event.

The apparently lost irony of this private event is in the name selected to compliment the “Great Gatsby” theme.

“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody”

The theme is a line from a song by Fergie used in the movie version of the Great Gatsby but not from the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The irony of the double negative is apparently lost on the parents. They might heed an actual quote from Fitzgerald that reflects on the past, loss, and regret.

Fitzgerald wrote,

“Suddenly, she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “A Nice Quiet Place,” The Saturday Evening Post (31 May, 1930)

Parents have a responsibility to temper youthful wants with reality. They need to instill a sense of perspective that measures the risk against the loss. These are difficult times. More Americans have died during the pandemic than in the wars of the 20th century when America bore its burden proudly and with determination. That burden lasted years, we’ve barely made it one.

A whole bunch of them never got proms either.

If the parents want to give their children a lasting memory, make it one that has lasting meaning. A prom for most is something that will fade into the past, the memories overwritten by life. It is hardly a higher purpose worth risking lives.

The reality may be they could hold this prom and nothing would happen. It is the most probable outcome. Or, they could steal the opportunity for a long life from a young person for the sake of one memory. The words “a little party never killed nobody” may have melded well in the song, and may have fit the theme of the movie, but it is a poor justification for risking someone’s future.

The parents might be better served to take a quote from Oscar Wilde to heart before they go through with their plans.

“Experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Dorian Gray


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