Note: Names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent. That would be: ME (name the song?) But for real. For his protection. And to save my embarrassment somewhat.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I was a junior in high school, and prom was quickly approaching. Since I was kinda tall, and kinda quiet, and kinda awkward, I'd never been invited to prom before, and I would die before I would go alone.
All of us junior girls were kind of worrying. Many were already working on their underclassmen guy friends. A lot of the guys our age or older already had dates or were in relationships, which was the case with the boy I adored. His name was, er, ah, Neil? Ok. Neil. I don't think I ever knew any Neils in person, and if I did and you are one and you're reading this, my apologies.
So I was crazy about Neil. He was our new preacher's son (sorry Neil, gave ya away there to the Warsaw people, didn't I?) and if you've ever lived in a small-town, you know that new people are usually well-liked. Fresh meat. New blood. A different face than the same ones you've looked at for the past ten years. I kind of made up my mind to like him before I even saw him, if that tells you anything. I heard he was tall (a plus for a girl pushing 5'10") and played basketball, and he was a "good boy," something I was in need of after the catastrophe that was Charlie.
BUT. Neil was dating Michelle. He even told me all about how he was going to ask her to go to prom with him blah blah blah like I cared. "Aww that's awesome! How sweet!" I cooed without rolling my eyes even once.
So he was out, although going to prom with him would have been my DREAM date.
We had a semi-formal dance the month before prom (dumb?) and I went to that with my BFF Louise? Oh hell it was Lindsey. Ok anyway, toward the end, this upper-classman asked me to dance. His name was Wally. Darn I'm just not so great at this name-changing thing, am I?
SO WALLY danced with me and we had this kind of connection. Translation: I'm all like ooooh potential prom date! And he was *most likely* all like oooooooh a girl. We danced a little more, making eyes and all that hullabaloo. Then he asked me if I wanted to go out with him after the dance! UH YEAH I DID!
My girlfriends were all like "Ooooooh maybe he'll ask you to prom! Prom date! Prom date!" I think they may have even mentioned that to him.
So he took me out. Translation: McDonald's and driving around. That is where he attempted to make a movie moment and teach me to drive his truck (a standard). I didn't learn, we exchanged numbers, and then he asked me if I'd like to go to prom with him. I said YES, and that was kind of that. In all honesty, I have NO IDEA if he kissed me, tried to kiss me, or did not kiss me, but I think it was the latter, because I got a very chivalrous impression of him.
Ohhhhhhhhh how I was wrong!
A few days later he called me and wanted to know if I would like to go on a date so we could get to know each other better before we went to prom. That was a saving grace for me, but a bad idea for him.
We decided to meet at the theater on Thursday night. This was approximately two weeks before prom. When we arrived, we were dismayed to see that they weren't showing any movies. It was closed. Why? Beats me. But they were. He suggested we drive around...IN MY CAR which I thought kind of sucked because I've always been a truck-loving kinda girl.
He guided me to the boat docks, where we sat awkwardly in my Escort with the windows down and radio on for a while, when he leaned over and kissed me OUT OF NOWHERE. I was startled, and I probably would've kissed him back if he hadn't Hoovered half my face off in the process. Ohhh it was awkward and I realized at that moment I had NO romantic feelings for this boy. I just wanted a prom date, not a boyfriend.
After the kiss I raised my eyebrows and turned up one side of my mouth (if you know me in person, this is my AWKWARD face) at which point he smiled his CHEESIEST smile, you know eyes half closed looking like a high baby? Anyway he says, "Soooooooo. I'm thinkin' I wanna go all the way."
I HONEST TO GOD didn't understand or comprehend what he'd said. Maybe I heard it and didn't process it, or maybe he stumbled over the RIDICULOUS words he'd just uttered, but either way, I was left looking at him like, "HUH?" I then said, "HUH?"
"I think I wanna go all the way," he said again, probably feeling a little stupid having to say it twice.
"Uhhh," was all I could think to say. I pressed my lips together SO hard trying not to laugh. Maybe he was "in a moment" and found it serious, but all I could think of in my head was how he tried SO suavely to say that...TWICE!
"Soo...whaddaya think?" he asked, pressing the issue.
"I. Uh. (stifled giggle) I gotta get home actually."
"Oh. Ok," he said, disappointedly.
I remember NOTHING after that, except my fits of hysterical laughter allllllll the way home. I was laughing at the situation, at the fact that I basically had a douche for a prom date or no one, and at the way he said those words. I can still hear it today, and it STILL makes me laugh.
Somehow the story got to Neil...probably through Lindsey. She was always good at watching out for me boy-wise ;) Somehow my mom found out he told his mom he couldn't stand the thought of me going to prom with that jerk. And somehow his girlfriend broke up with him. I got all this information second-hand, but I considered his mama a pretty reliable source.
I was desperate to get rid of Wally, and to think I had a second chance...a chance to go on my DREAM date?!?! I found Neil at school after classes one day, and I said these words, or something very close to them, "So, I was thinking since you and Michelle broke up, and since Neil turned out to be a real jerk, and neither of us has a prom date, maybe we could, uh, like, I don't know, go.......kinda......together?"
"Sure." He said, and smiled at me. And that was that. Nothing changed in our friendship. I still stalked him and he still had no idea ;) (this was pre-Facebook and pre-texting y'all young'uns...we had to get creative). We coordinated our colors, and he bragged about picking me up in his dad's Lincoln (which I still say was an old lady car, but whatev).
I hadn't exactly broken the prom date with "suck-face guy" as my lovely former freshmen called him. Oh yes, I've used this as my example personal essay every year that I've taught :) So once I knew that Neil and I were golden, I broke the news to Wally.
"I'm not going to prom with you," I said coldly after school one day, feeling SO powerful.
"What? Why? I already got my tux!" he yelled as I was walking down the hallway.
"Sorry," I hollered back, getting the attention of several track students and a coach.
"Wait! This doesn't have to do with our date, does it?" he pleaded from down the hall.
"YEAH it KINDA does!" I yelled.
"Let's go out again. I'm sorry, let me make it up to you."
"You've done enough. I have to go," I said breezily over my shoulder. And that was the end of Mr. Toad.
On prom night Neil picked me up (in the Lincoln). He stood taller than me even in my heels. He wore a purple vest. He brought me a beautiful corsage...one of the biggest ones ;) He made small talk. He danced with me. Closely, but not uncomfortably..."All My Life" by Kci and Jojo will always remind me of that night. He went to my best friend's house with me afterward, and stayed the whole time. He didn't kiss me, nor did he even try. He was chivalrous. He was a decent date. For that night, I felt like Cinderella.
As I gained years and perspective (and a way cool senior prom date) I found the night to be rather boring, and not nearly as magical as I once thought, but he gave me my night on the town. I wrote a poem about it. Someday I'll post it. It's cute and teeny-bopper. He helped me see I COULD squash a toad and end up with a prince...at least for one night.