By JOSEPH TINTLE
The high school senior prom was approaching and I had no intention of attending. But two classmates, Jack and Kevin, approached me and said I just had to be at their table because we’d been classmates since seventh grade. The problem was that Jack and Kevin had girlfriends; I had yet to date. In fact, I had promised myself as early as seventh grade that I would never attend the prom. That’s how shy I was.
Even at 17, I never thought I’d outgrow my social shortcoming. My friends pushed and pushed so I eventually caved and said I’d see what I could do about getting a date. I went home and told my sister, Alice, about my predicament and she gave it some thought. A day or two later she told me about a waitress named Carol at the restaurant where she worked. Carol was five-feet, two inches tall, an attractive blonde, and tops in her class, Alice assured me. I was interested.
So one Saturday afternoon I just “happened” to go to the restaurant and my sister introduced us. Carol waited on me, I ordered chicken croquettes, we talked, and I asked her out for Saturday. She said yes. But Friday came and I thought I should give her a call. I didn’t know why, but I did.
“We can’t go out,” Carol said in a firm voice.
“Why?” “Something’s come up.”
“How about next week?”
“I don’t think so.”
Well, Carol and I never went out that Saturday or any other Saturday for that matter, and it would be two years before I learned the reason why she had backed out of our date. By then I had taken a summer job at a nearby school and one day I was speaking with a teacher. She had the same last name as Carol and I asked if they were related. Yes, they were, she told me. So I explained how I had asked out Carol two years earlier and that she had mysteriously brushed me off after accepting the date.
The teacher explained that was probably the day Carol found out she was pregnant by her former boyfriend. A few days later, Carol’s family sent her away to have the child.
The next day I told Jack and Kevin that the date with Carol didn’t work out. They thought for a moment and said they had “the perfect girl” for me.”
“And who’s that?” I wanted to know.
“Her name is Carolyn,” Kevin said. “She’s a friend of my girlfriend.”
Hmm, a blind date. I wasn’t comfortable with that, but the guys were insistent and being their peer I, of course, went along with what they said like any teenager would.
My blind date was set for the following Saturday. Carol was now in the rearview mirror; Carolyn was up ahead and coming around the bend. Carolyn turned out to be wealthy and living in a gated community. No pressure there for my first date as we drove up to her stately home.
As I walked in her house accompanied by my friends and their girlfriends, Carolyn made a grand entrance down a stairwell. How ravishing was she? Well, have you ever been on a date and realized that you were the dog?
It was all downhill from there.
From our initial conversation it was obvious that Carolyn and I had little in common, so I asked Kevin if I could hang with his girlfriend while he entertained Carolyn. He agreed and eventually the night dragged to its conclusion. Jack, his girlfriend, and I dropped off Carolyn at her home. I said good night, turned, and slinked into the backseat. Jack and his girlfriend sat in the front as the car rumbled through the gated community.
As we wended our way to her house we spotted a rather large-figured girl walking on the shoulder of the road. “Hey,” said Jack’s girlfriend, “that’s my friend. Pick her up, please.”
Jack complied and this 17-year-old girl, who weighed about 250 pounds, squeezed her way into the backseat and off we went. We drove another two minutes when Jack arrived at his girlfriend’s house. They bid each other farewell with a drawn-out kiss.
Given my lack of dating experience, I was rather embarrassed and turned to look at our new passenger thinking she’d roll her eyes at the proceedings occurring in the front seat. Instead, she gave me a long look as if she wanted to kiss. I turned and stared out the window, never so embarrassed.
Obviously, I did not make it to the senior prom, but at least I kept my seventh-grade promise.