The Spring of 1991 was supposed to be the time of my life (or something). I had a few easy coast courses (which oddly netted me the Honors Diploma that advanced math wouldn’t) and enjoyed if not full acceptance by my peers, at least the pretension of it. The only dark spot on the horizon as the school year and my secondary education career drew to a close was the Rite of Spring everyone else looked forward to but which I dreaded with intense anxiousness. Prom.
At first, I planned on not even going to my Senior Prom, but it seemed like something I should do. I was only going to have one shot at it (my own Prom that is) and I decided I would go, but by myself. I did not want to add the pressure of finding a date. I mainly didn’t because I was very bad at asking girls out. Really bad. Whenever I even talked to a girl, it often veered off in the wrong direction. I knew all of this and was actually comfortable with going to Prom by myself. Unfortunately, everyone around me had other ideas.
“So who are you going to ask to Prom?” a friend asked.
“It’s February,” I deflected.
“You can’t start too early.”
“Well, ask me again in March or April.”
In March, the same friend asked, “So who are you going to ask to Prom?”
“I think I’ll just go stag.”
“You can’t go stag to Prom!”
“It’s just not done, dude.”
“So? It seems simpler. Besides, this way I don’t have to face rejection.”
“You don’t know that you’ll have to face rejection. She may say ‘yes’ after all.”
“Who?” I asked, more excited than I cared to let on, “Do you know someone who wants me to ask?”
“Of course not.”
“Wow, thanks for the encouragement.”
I had several exchanges like that, but remained unconvinced. Eventually though I got tired of the constant pestering about it.
“Fine,” I said one afternoon when I had enough, “If I ask someone to Prom will you lay off even if she says no?” The group around me answered in the affirmative and I soon had an opportunity.
A classmate walked by so I caught up to her and matched her stride.
“Hey,” I asked, “Would you, uh, go to Prom with me?”
“No.” She didn’t even break her stride.
Everyone stopped pestering me, but something about the way she said “no” got under my skin. I decided I would ask someone else, if only to be turned no more gently.
“Um, I know you don’t have a date for Prom, so I wondered if you’d like to go with me,” her expression caused me to back pedal a bit, “No, no go go with me. Just go with me to Prom.”
“Thanks, but no thanks.”
A normal guy might have given up then, especially if he didn’t want to ask someone to Prom in the first place. Sadly, I was never a normal person and even though I only asked the first girl to prove that she would say no, now I wanted one that would say yes.” I determined that I would have a date to Prom no matter how many girls I had to ask. Big mistake.
“I was thinking about asking you to Prom and wondered what you though about that.”
“I haven’t thought about it. But now that you mention it, no.”
“You don’t even know what I was going to say!”
“Fine,” she sighed, “What were you going to say.”
“I was going to ask you to Prom.”
“Definitely no then.”
“Wait, what did you think I was going to ask?” BUt she already walked away.
“Hey, do you have a date for Prom yet.”
“How about me? As your date for the Prom I mean.”
“No,” she laughed. She thought I was joking.
“No, I’m serious. Will you go to the Prom with me?”
“Oh,” she said and stopped laughing, “Still no.”
“Do you have a date for Prom yet?”
“Would you like one?”
“Yes!” She said excitedly, “Do you know someone who’ll ask me?”
“I will! Want to go to Prom with me?”
“Do you know anyone else who’ll ask?”
“I’m already going with someone else.”
“No, not really.”
“Oh, hell, no!”
“You really feel that strongly?”
“Please don’t ask me,” she said as I walked up to her.
“Why not?” As if I didn’t know.
“Because I don’t want to turn you down.”
“I guess I won’t make you.” Even though she already, you know, did turn me down.
After this procession, spread out over a couple of weeks, a friend asked, “So who are you taking to Prom?”
“You’re not going to Prom?”
“I guess I still am, but I’m going stag.”
“You can’t go to Prom stag.”
“Because it’s just not done,” we said simultaneously.
“How did you know that’s what I was going to say?” he asked.
“Have you asked anyone?”
“You could say that. I got turned down.”
“Well, just ask someone else.”
“I got turned down again.”
“Well, you have to-”
“Fourteen times,” I interrupted.
“Dude!” He started laughing and sai, “I’m sorry, but you have to admit that’s kind of funny.”
“I guess. Assuming you’re not me anyway.” (I do have to admit that it would make a hilarious video montage).
“Hey, I know someone you can ask.”
“You do?” I didn’t want to admit how badly I wanted this to work out.
We were both in All County band as was his girlfriend who went to a different high school. She had a friend they were convinced would go to my Prom with me. One night, they engineered a meeting for us. I was awkward as always.
“When are you going to ask her?” he inquired. Several times.
“I don’t know. Whenever it seems right.”
A few minutes later we all crammed in to a car that was too small for the number of people crowded in to it. The girl in questions conveniently wound up in my lap. It seemed like a good time.
“Hey,” I started. She leaned her head close to my mouth to hear over the open window.
He hair was impossibly soft against my cheek. “Um, what are you doing a month from tonight?”
“Well, it’s my Prom. Would you like to go to it with me?”
“Sure,” se said. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath.
I guess fifteen was the magic number.