Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Prom Date"

In honor of our next in-person class, and the chapter on Prom, I'm sharing an excerpt from a short story I wrote awhile back about my high school experience.'s a little t.m.i...but I think it's pretty funny, and it's true. Alright....

“Prom Date”

Sitting there with my legs stuck to a leather couch clutching a ball of black tulle and sequins, balancing an overnight bag and rolling my neck back and forth waiting, thinking, “Get here, get here, get here, get here.” This is my sharpest memory from the morning after. The doorbell rings and I leap up, waddling to the front door of my girlfriend’s house. My mother peers through the glass of her front door, with cupped hands and a look of concern on her face, and a lump settles into my throat. “Thank you…um, I’ll see you later.” I mumble the expected polite good-bye, and sneak out the door while simultaneously dropping and catching my things. As I climb into the car, it smells sweaty and American. Tennis rackets scatter the back seat, and I shove them over onto my brother’s lap. Fantastic. Fuck. My entire family is in the car. Curiosity fills the air; my mom whips around with wondering eyes, and before she can even speak, my chest thrusts forward and in one swift second my face is buried in her lap. “I got a fucking hemorrhoid, okay?! Are you happy now?” Silence. “Wow, it sounds like your prom date was a real pain in the ass.” Thanks Dad. Yes, let’s regale the situation. Well, three years later, I can do this without my face lighting on fire.

High school was a mess for me. Virgin to the core, I was petrified of boys. While most girls participated in the blow-job-under-the-bleachers or sex-on-the-staircase milestones, I managed to escape the whole shebang with only one kiss under my belt. Although I managed some awkward flirtations, it was always somehow understood by the other party that it would go nowhere. I tortured myself wondering why I didn’t have a boyfriend. Torture, because I spent so much time agonizing over something to which I secretly knew the answer. I did not want one. In my mind, the ways of navigating adolescence were seemingly polarized; it was either going to the clinic for the morning after pill or baby-sitting every Friday. Like a multiple choice test asking, “Who do you want to be?” And these are the only choices; A. Someone who smokes pot and changes under the pressure inflicted upon them by a 16 year-old boy-child, or B. Someone who memorizes Saturday Night Live sketches and side-walk chalks neighbor’s drive-ways in the middle of the night with their best friend.

I spent the weeks before prom artfully dodging every boy who made eye-contact with me because of my fear that I may be asked. My fear of inadequacy and being exposed to another human was suppressed by the genius idea that I chose to go alone in order to, you know, be myself and have fun dancing like a drunkard without someone thinking I was crazy. Naturally, it was impossible for me to wrap my head around the idea that someone could think I was hilarious. No, no, no. Without anyone ever telling me this, I was convinced that no one could possibly find me attractive, charming, witty, smart, or even tolerable. I told myself it was not that I didn’t believe those things to be true about myself, but because I didn’t believe that anyone at my high school had the je ne se quois to see those things about me. Well, with that attitude, Christ, I can not believe I didn’t have boys crawling all over me. I saw people as inhibitors, as a threat to myself and the things which they would never, could never, understand about me. Prom was just one more opportunity to prove, “Look. No takers. Well, good, I’m glad, because I would rather be alone than with someone who doesn’t get ‘this.’”

Fear not. Though prematurely cynical and dateless, I still managed to spend the entire night joining in the bathroom festivities which are an integral part to any high school dance. You know the deal; crying, throwing up, yelling, swearing about how “so-and-so stepped on my dress”, or, God-forbid, “so-and-so is wearing my dress.” Only I was upset for another reason. I was going to the bathroom for another reason. I wonder now what it would have been like to have taken pictures with someone; received a corsage from someone; danced with someone; kissed someone; to have been in that bathroom because of a negligent date. If I only could have given more credit to those around me and taken chances by letting someone make eye-contact with me. Let someone make awkward banter with me. Let someone ask me to be their date. I was too busy writing everyone around me off, that I didn’t realize I was writing myself off. In my attempts to escape the chance of pain, I escaped the chance of joy. To think, I really believed being alone would leave my prom problem-free. Ironically, I did end up dealing with something painful; a symbiotic one at that. At least my hemorrhoid didn’t ignore me. Or dance with someone else.


Sarah Wissig said...

I feel so bad laughing at your adolescent embarrassment, even though it's clearly meant to be funny!

I really enjoyed this!

ramona q said...

This is so perfect. And so exactly what my life was in high school. I was like the most virgin person ever as well !!

Ariel Dansky said...

Haha I was also the "most virgin person ever" in high school.

I really enjoyed reading this =). You should publish it in a zine or something.

Kari said...

See, now I'm really glad I didn't go to prom!