Friday, April 17, 2009

Dance With the One That Brought Ya. . . Or Not. . .

A couple of my blog-friends, Lime and Cocotte, have recently posted a meme about their high-school days, which has piqued a few memories in me, and a good story or two. So ladies, you may consider this post to be my extended answer to Question #22 - 'Did you have fun at the Prom?' . . .

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I really enjoyed high school. Mostly for the academic stuff - I was sort-of the resident Math Whiz in my class, but really, my interests were pretty eclectic. It was in high school that I started to become aware of all the intellectual wonders that were 'out there', waiting for me to explore. I wasn't an asocial nerd, by any means, but I was never a candidate for Homecoming King, either. My social life tended to center around my church youth group, and the sports teams - I played football and baseball (and I hung out with the basketball team, although I wasn't remotely good enough to be on the team. . .)

I never had a steady girlfriend in high school - at least, not at my school. I met my GF1 the summer between junior and senior years, and we carried on a long-distance relationship during senior year; the following summer, after I graduated, we were able to see a bit more of each other. In my school days, I had one serious crush, on a girl named Cindy, which I'd carried since 7th grade, but since she was going steady with one of my best friends the whole time, I had to keep it pretty much on the down-low. I did go on a few dates, with girls I liked, but nothing ever 'took hold'. Which was a bit disappointing at the time, but in retrospect, I don't feel like I missed all that much (I mean, you know, Molly didn't go to my school, so what was I supposed to do, right?). . .

I think it was my junior year, that a girl named Bev, who wasn't in the youth group, started tagging along with one of the other girls in the group. In early December, the youth group had an activity of some sort, and in the course of the evening, Bev and I wound up together quite a lot. Before the evening was over, I had the distinct feeling that she liked me. Which, if you're 15 and never particularly been liked by a girl, is pretty darned cool. . .

The following week, the youth group had a Christmas Caroling outing, and this time, Bev and I just stuck to each other the whole evening, intoxicated as I was on the sweet elixir of 'She likes me; she really likes me'. We might have even snuck a kiss or two. Or three; I forget how many. A couple times during the evening, while we were briefly separated from each other, a couple of my friends, who'd known Bev longer than I had, came to me, warning me not to get too carried away with her, that she wasn't all that she seemed to be. But, hey - I was in love; what did they know?

In those days, our school had what we called a Winter Prom (I think my kids' school calls it a Winter Ball, but we thought that having two proms every year was cool; besides, in those days, the whole tux/limo scene hadn't gotten all the way Up North yet, so it wasn't like there was a huge major outlay of cash involved). Which, coincidentally enough, was just a couple weeks away, by the time Bev and I got together. So I asked her if she would go to the Winter Prom with me, and she said she would. Which was all sorts of cool, and I was walking on air.

I did my duty and procured a corsage for her to wear, but there was an immediate logistical problem - I was only 15 (I was young for my class) and didn't yet have my driver's license. I explained my conundrum to Bev, and she said no problem, we could double with another couple she knew who were going, and he could drive. Which was just fine with me (greenhorn of romance that I was).

At the appointed time, the other guy (his name was Gary) showed up at my house, and we went to pick up his date, and then Bev (I will confess to having had a mildly-elevated heart rate when I had to slip my fingers inside the neckline of her dress in order to pin the corsage on her). On the way to the dance (which was held at the high school), Gary and his date (I forget her name; call her Laura) sat in front, and Bev and I were in back. I thought perhaps we could renew some of our kissing experiments, but she seemed preoccupied with something or other, and oddly distant.

We got to the school, and grabbed a spot at a table, Gary and Laura on one side, Bev and I across from them. When the music started, I took Bev out for a dance, and Gary and Laura danced right near us. The whole time, Bev was making small talk with the two of them, and, other than the physical proximity entailed in dancing with me, she pretty much completely ignored me. Back at the table, it was more of the same - Bev chattering away with Gary and Laura, while I sat by like a third wheel.

After a while, Bev suggested that we switch partners for the next dance - I could dance with Laura, and she could dance with Gary - so we did. I barely knew Laura, who was in the class above Bev and me, as was Gary, and we didn't find much common ground to talk about.

When the music ended, we went back to our table, but Gary and Bev never returned. I mean, they never returned. After a few minutes, Laura and I were scanning the room, looking for our respective dates, but they were nowhere to be found. Which was odd at first, but quickly moved into 'Annoying', just before Laura and I looked at each other and realized that we'd been had. Which kinda killed the mood for the two of us, after that. I tried to take a 'make-the-best-of-it' approach, and took Laura out to dance a couple more times, but that was a pretty futile proposition.

It also put us in a very awkward spot, since Gary had been the driver for the four of us, and it was apparent that he and Bev had vacated the premises. I didn't have a car, and I couldn't have driven her home, even if I did. It wasn't so bad for me - I only lived about six blocks from the school, so I could walk home - but Laura was kinda stuck, in heels and a prom dress, and she lived on the other side of town. I hung with her while she tried to work out a ride home, and once she did, I said good night and thanked her for such enjoyment as I'd had, and walked home.

And that, my friends, is the story of my Prom. The girl I took to the Prom went home with another guy, leaving me and his date to fend for ourselves. I have been known to use my Prom story to tell my kids not to have such high, lofty romantic expectations of the Prom, so it wasn't a total loss. And besides that, you can't buy that kind of education - I learned volumes about Human Nature (most especially including my own) over the course of two weeks; besides learning that my friends had my back, even when I didn't want to think that they did.

The Winter Prom happened during the Christmas break, so we didn't have to go immediately back to school the following Monday. Which was probably merciful. By the time I saw Bev again, my heart had had some time to heal of its bruises. For her part, Bev picked right back up where she'd left off at the Prom (and, coincidentally enough, where she'd been before I came along) - acting like I didn't exist. Which suited me just fine; if she'd wanted to make all 'friendly' with me, I might have puked in my own mouth. And she and Gary were suddenly an 'item'; which was her plan all along, I suppose. And it was a wiser young Desmond who roamed the halls of Up North High after that. . .

I have no idea what ever became of Bev (and honestly, not to be all snide about it, but I don't feel particularly poorer for that lack of knowledge). I've kept in touch with a few of my close friends from high school, but my parents moved away from Michigan even before I'd graduated, and my occasions to go back to my old hometown have been pretty few.

9 comments:

lime said...

eeesh, poor you and laura, certainly some valuable lessons in all of that, so there was that benefit.

Cocotte said...

That is JUST AWFUL! Amazing how stories like this stick with you, isn't it? I love that you used it as a lesson for your own kids.

Sailor said...

Ugh, that's nastiness. I'm so glad not to be in HS, lol.

Trueself said...

Gee that reminds me a little too much of a dance I attended in high school, not a prom though. I don't remember what the dance was but it wasn't the real fancy kind. This guy who lived down the street from me invited me to go, and I (like the big dummy I am) said yes even though he'd never paid any attention to me at all before that. For the next couple of weeks until the dance he was very attentive to me, always talking to me, catching rides with me to youth group meetings and what not (he was a few months younger than me and didn't yet have his license).

Once we were at the dance it became increasingly clear that he had no interest in me other than what use I could be in making his ex-girlfriend jealous. Once I figured that out I did everything in my power not to help him in that or any other endeavor. Like your date, he acted like I didn't even exist after that. Suddenly he no longer needed rides anywhere and would never ever look me in the eyes again.

Pfft. . . his loss.

Desmond Jones said...

Lime - You know, the whole story starts with my own love-struck-ness, that instantly and completely overrode the warnings of my friends, who were really in a position to know better than I. . .

And I really do hope for better for Bev than what this story from my life would seem to say about her. . .

Cocotte - Awful about sums it up. . .

I was initially a little hesitant to tell the story to my kids, because it puts me in a fairly unflattering light - not just being the object of Bev's bad character, but being stupid, and pretty pathetic, besides. But, I see my kids just loading up The Prom with all manner of over-the-top emotional/romantic freight, that I just had to try to interject a bit of reality. Odds are, they're NOT gonna marry their prom date, so just go, and have fun with your date, and your friends, and don't stop at a motel on your way home. . .

Sailor - I think part of the reason I was mostly able to enjoy high school was that I managed to mostly stay aloof from the whole 'who-likes-who' popularity games. I had quite a few friends (but only a few really close ones), from most all of the various and sundry 'cliques', but I wasn't really in the 'inner circle' of any of them. And that seems to have worked out OK. . .

Truey - Yup; his loss. Certainly not yours. . .

flutterby said...

A pox on 'er!

*sigh* Sending a time-travellin' hug to young Desmond. Your retelling was captivating and fun and all that a retelling should be... but I'm sure the sting was pretty harsh at the time.

Desmond Jones said...

Flutter - I'll say nothing about poxes, but only leave that between Bev and the Universe. . . ;)

And yeah, it stung pretty good. But honestly, I figured out pretty quickly that I hadn't really lost all that much. . .

Xavier said...

Life lived, lesson learned and alla that.

My own prom was interesting in that I went with a friend (Queenie was too young at the time) who, it turned out, wanted more than friendship. She hinted all night about it but I didn't catch the hint until late into the night. Yes, she knew about Queenie but was convinced she'd be able to wrestle me away.
We double-dated with her friend who asked out a closet gay that they both were scheming to 'turn' ..... ahh, the days of youth.

Desmond Jones said...

Xavier - I know better than to ask you to post the story in full. . . (*sigh*)But honestly, on the whole, I think your story is actually more *troublesome* than mine. 'Cuz, once my date booked off, it was pretty clear to me what to do. Whereas, it sounds like you had to, um, persevere thru your situation.

And God bless you - you obviously had stronger character than I did at that age. I couldn't say with nearly as much certainty as I'd like, that Id've declined such an offer.

And teenage girls can really be dumb, can't they? I mean, trying to 'turn' a gay guy?