Writing Contest: Runner-up

Amy Finkenbine, Anna High School, Anna, OH (Teacher: Amber Dues)

Snow is on the ground. Christmas decorations are coming down. Everyone has a fresh start in January. There’s spring in the air… at least there would be if you’re a typical high school junior, like Jill is at this moment. With the ending of the holiday season, thousands of girls across the country begin the cultural ritual of pre-prom planning. As a junior, Jill is no longer a child with “visions of sugar plums dancing through her head”. No, Jill has become a mature young adult and she is ready to undergo the craze for dates, tanning, court, shoes, hair styles, and most importantly, DRESSES. Today Jill and her mother start the prom process by going to purchase a dress. Jill thinks she’s ready… but is she?

When they walk into the store, Jill immediately sets her sights on a royal blue beauty. She scuttles towards it and whisks away toward a dressing room before her mother has even entered the shop. Jill’s mom is directed towards the waiting area and finds an empty seat. There are few other customers, so Jill takes no hesitation before striding confidently to the full length mirrors. Her mother looks up as Jill is seemingly floating toward the mirrors in a full skirt dress. She’ll never tell Jill, but she almost had to look twice to make sure it was her own daughter.

Jill’s dress of choice was of the purest sapphire blue, with an innumerable amount of rhinestones delicately sprinkled across the sweetheart bust line. The flowing skirt trailed behind her slightly, as she climbed onto the alteration box directly in front of the mirrors. In the back, intertwining ribbons are laced together to form a tantalizing effect of light through shades of blue intermixing along with tactically placed sequins. It almost pained Jill’s mom to see her in it because she knew just by looking at the thing that it was close to three hundred dollars, if not more! Jill’s father and she had discussed that it was best for Jill to have a cap on her spending amount for this year’s prom, because next year would be more important as a senior.

Jill’s mom quickly snuck a peek to double check the price page and to confront her daughter just as three different sales ladies came swiftly over to assist Jill in presenting the dress.

“Jill, this dress does look simply beautiful on you dear, but I’m afraid you’ll have to find another one,” Jill’s mom quickly stated, before the employees tried too hard to close a sale.

“But Mom,” Jill began, “this one is perfect; it’s a miracle I found it. What makes you think there could possibly be another one like it?”

Jill’s mom answered with a joke, “We’d have to lower our standard of living for a year to buy this dress.” The workers chuckled to themselves, not sure if they should respond.

Jill’s mom laughed with them until Jill asked what a standard of living was. Her mother looked a little taken aback, but informed her that everyone had a standard of living; one that was determined by their consumption of goods/services in order to live in a certain amount of comfort. Jill looked a little confused and questioned why they couldn’t live as comfortably as they wanted, or basically why this topic had to do with her purchasing her dream dress. The employees’ eyes grew big as Jill articulated her inquiry. Jill’s mother was almost appalled; she had a daughter currently a junior in high school who didn’t even understand the most basic of economic concepts. Both the employees and Jill’s mother decided to have a little intervention and fix this problem.

Twenty minutes later, Jill threw her hands up and exclaimed, “Okay, now hold on. Let me make sure I have this right. I can’t have this dress because it’s too expensive. Mom believes that our standard of living would have to suffer a short period of time if we purchased it, basically saying we’d have to go without a few items for a little while.”

Jill continued on with her summary, “This standard of living we have is basically set by the income that the household I live in accumulates. This is different for everyone. You all work on commission; meaning that you receive an incentive for making a sale. So during prom season, your standard of living would technically increase during these few months because you would be selling more dresses.”

The three employees nodded and Jill continued to connect their points, “And depending on your income and preferred standard of living, consumers, (that’s the people doing the buying), consider the opportunity costs of every transaction they complete. Almost like making a checklist of the pros and cons of making a purchase or selling a good/service.”

One of the sales ladies reminded her of unexpected costs. “You’re right,” Jill responded, “so when I look to purchase my prom dress, I’ve got to consider the costs that I might not anticipate, such as alterations to my dress, or buying a boutonniere for my date. Gosh, I didn’t realize how expensive prom really was.” Jill stepped down from her pedestal and entered her dressing room, and emerged shortly after having changed. Without saying a word, she hung the dress back on the rack and announced she was ready to depart.

“No dress?” questioned the employees.

Jill nodded and stated, “I’ve decided that the best thing to do would be to create a budget, and to ensure funding for future expenses, it would be beneficial for me to just borrow a dress this year, because that’s free. Then my budget would be more open for shoes, accessories and anything else I’ll need. And now, I have a whole year to plan and save for my senior year prom dress. I can possibly get a job at one of the various businesses in my town to finance next year’s prom. Thank you for all you guys’ help today.”

Jill’s mom left the store proudly after her daughter, excited to get the chance to tell her husband that their daughter was finally ready to tackle the financial frenzy that is a high school prom.

Composition has been lightly edited.