Well, high-school seniors, it's almost time for graduation, and that means you're about to make the most important decision you will ever make, a decision that will determine the course of your entire life, namely: what to wear to the prom.

I'm speaking especially to you gals. Your senior prom (This year's theme: "A Whole Lot of Inflated Balloons") should be a totally awesome experience, PROVIDED THAT YOU FOLLOW CORRECT PROM PROCEDURES. These can be found in the spring 1991 issue of Your Prom magazine (published by Modern Bride). Your Prom is chock-full of prom advice and glossy color promwear advertisements featuring models who look exactly like what high-school students would look like if they were all professional models and resembled Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts and didn't have acne.In fact, high-school students DO look better today, especially compared with the way they looked when I was one, in the early '60s. When I page through my high-school yearbook (Theme: "Goobers on Parade"), I say to myself: Did we really look like that? How come nobody TOLD us? How come, in Boys' Health Class, instead of Mr. Beatty's spending an hour explaining how we could get mononucleosis from slow dancing - mononucleosis was a major fad back then - he didn't just come right out and say: "Boys, you're never going to get anywhere NEAR the opposite sex until you stop smearing your hair with what appears to be moose mucus."

But you high-school students today look great, really, and I know you're going to have a swell time at your proms, IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT PROMWEAR AND ACCESSORIES. This is critical, according to Your Prom magazine, which states that, by now, you gals should already have selected your prom dress. If you haven't, you need to borrow the family car and get down to the mall IMMEDIATELY and try on dresses - allow at least a month for this - until you have found exactly the right one, assuming it's within your budget range. If it's not, trade the family car for it. This is your PROM we're talking about.

PROM DANGER ALERT: According to a leading prom-dress expert quoted in Your Prom magazine, "A store can't guarantee that no one else in your school will be wearing the same dress." If this happens to you, the key is: Relax. Don't let it ruin your evening. Don't become enraged and lunge at the other girl right in the middle of the dance floor and rip off her dress with your bare hands. You could damage your acrylic fingernails. A better method is pruning shears, which your date is responsible for providing.

Speaking of your date, Your Prom magazine states that you should have selected him by now also. You want to go with a "very special guy" - a guy who is fun, a guy who is sensitive, and a guy who, above all, has eyes that match your promwear. If they don't, NOW is the time for him to get cosmetic surgery - don't let him wait until the week before the prom, when the doctor's office is jammed with everybody else's date.

And speaking of cosmetics, let's not forget your Pre-Prom Beauty Preparations. Your Prom magazine contains a comprehensive regimen that will transform you from a normal person into a person covered with beauty products in about the same time it took to invent the atom bomb, but with more ingredients. I counted 21 separate steps in the Main Beauty Regimen, which does not include the nine-step Manicure Regimen and the five-step Pedicure Regimen. Also there were 37 beauty products mentioned by name (step five, for example, is "de-fuzzing your upper lip with Sally Hansen Creme Bleach").

As your prom beauty adviser, I recommend that you purchase all of these products, especially the La Cross brand Pumice Smoothing Stone, which the magazine recommends you use for "de-callusing your feet." I cannot overemphasize the importance of this. I know that at my class' senior prom, several girls had failed to adequately de-callus. They came in there with feet you could crack walnuts on, and everybody was talking about it, and the girls became so mortified that they ran out and joined strict religious orders before we even crowned the Prom King and Queen.

This is the kind of prom memory you young people will remember for the rest of your lives. I still have a strong memory of riding home from my junior prom in a car with about 17 other couples, dropping the girls off at their houses one at a time. So when you walked your date to the front door, hoping, despite the clear risk of mononucleosis, to kiss her good night, you had a large audience. Also of course your date's front door had about 600,000 watts of illumination on it. Your date's father had actually rented police spotlights and positioned them around the lawn, aiming at the door, so that when you attempted the Kiss Maneuver you were clearly visible to Martian astronomers, not to mention your friends back in the car, who were hooting and honking and pounding the doors in a sensitive and supportive manner.

I doubt this kind of thing still goes on. Judging from Your Prom magazine, you young people today are a lot more sophisticated.