Amy ChenIt’s almost Valentine’s Day and Lake Oswego High School’s winter formal. Corny, cheesy love is in the air.

Once a year, it is socially acceptable to give people heart-shaped chalk and call it candy. It is also acceptable to give loved ones tiny cards and mass-produced, time-specific teddy bears with hearts for eyes, of which they will shove into drawers like Christmas sweaters on Dec. 26. After all, nothing warms your significant other’s heart more than knowing you would disregard basic human rights and waste natural resources for an “I love you beary much” teddy bear.

A few times per year, for high school students, it is also socially acceptable to hand someone a puzzle — an encrypted dance invitation — and force him or her to solve it in front of you. At these times, it is also acceptable to stalk — I mean keep track of — where someone is so that you might surprise him or her with a crudely made poster and a hug. It is also socially acceptable to drag your friends into these endeavors.

After these initial rites, you will find yourself surrounded by “drAAAAmaaaa.” You will become acutely aware of your friends’ chronic cases of indecision — though I might not be one to complain — and realize which of your friends will become “bridezillas” several years down the road.

Girls: You will search for a dress as if your life depends on it. Boys: You will go shopping with your mother to avoid developing “lost puppy syndrome” in the middle of a department store.

The night of the dance, you’ll go to a friend’s house and pose in front of either a fireplace or a staircase as a mob of parents take photos of your group, en masse. They will take photos all at once, to ensure that nobody looks at the same camera at the same time.

You’ll go to dinner dressed in clothes not made for sitting in, surrounded by your similarly dressed friends. Adults dressed in normal people clothes at surrounding tables will glance at you from time to time. You will pay for dinner in cash while your friends criticize you for being bad at counting.

You will eventually find yourself at the event, standing uncomfortably next to people who dance poorly or people who “dance” poorly. You will lose your voice trying to talk to your date, your voice lost to Flo Rida’s “Low,” and cringe when a stranger’s posterior grazes your calves. You will post photos on Facebook and tell everyone how much fun you had.

This year, LOHS has mashed these wonderful situations within 10 days of each other. Our winter formal is Feb. 22, a little over a week after Valentine’s Day.

Welcome to true love.

Don’t get me wrong, I still celebrate Valentine’s Day and go to school dances. Albeit, I participate in them because I like feeling silly, but I participate nonetheless. Take Valentine’s Day, for example. Valentine’s Day is adorable. Couples act differently because it’s their day. Singles reinvent “Singles Awareness Day” — or, SAD — for the hundredth time.

Pharmacies fill entire aisles with pink and red. Everything feels cartoonish.

With winter formal, despite all the awkward moments, it is the teenage equivalent to playing dress-up — and there’s no way I’d pass that up. Best of all, it is only on these special occasions that you can make a pun, and the recipient of the pun will abstain from groaning to spare your feelings.

So, let’s get past the formalities and cut to the chase: James Tollefsen, will you go to winter formal with me?

Amy Chen is a senior at Lake Oswego High School, and she writes a monthly column for the Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Editor's Note: James Tollefsen said "yes."

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