A Ninth-Grade Dance to Forget -- If Only I Could
This tale of woe takes place in the
ninth grade, back when ninth graders still stayed in junior high.
I had detention. I don’t remember
why. But so did the prettiest girl in the class, whom I’ll call
Rhonda—because that was her name.
The catch was, she was dating Benny,
the captain of the football team. But, at detention, I learned
there was trouble in paradise. Oh yes. They had broken
up, with just four days to go before the big ninth grade dance.
We had a fine chat when I walked her
home, so when I got home, I decided, what the heck. I called her
up to ask her to the dance. Sure, she said, why not.
Of course, I was level-jumping, and
I knew it. So I had to avoid her the entire week, to make sure
she didn’t back out. Because her locker was near the bathroom,
that meant I couldn’t go to the bathroom at school all week.
Couldn’t risk it.
And, as luck would have it, my mustache
was finally coming in that very week, so after four days of rubbing
my fingers over my lip, I had two mustaches: one made of wispy blond
hair, the other of acne. Awesome.
Dragging that blade over my lip for
my shaving experience was fantastic. Man that felt great!
Being only 14, my dad had to drive
me to her house, and this is where things got tricky. Her father
happened to be the head coach of the Huron high school hockey team.
My entire life, I dreamed of not of winning Nobel Prizes or even playing
for the Red Wings or even Michigan, but suiting up for the River Rats
of Huron High.
So, when I got there, I had to be
cool around Rhonda – wearing a beautiful spaghetti strap purple dress
I remember to this day – tough around her dad, but sweet around her
mom. After we took some pictures by the fireplace, I figured
I’d pulled the whole thing off – until we get to the gym.
I made sure we showed up about 20
minutes late, so all my friends – and especially my enemies – could
see me walk in with the prettiest girl in school.
Well, it worked – maybe too well.
My former best friend yells, from
the back of the gym, with 300 people I’ve known my entire life between
us: “Hey Bake! Look at your coat!”
I look down, and I see a sight I will
also never forget: There are only two buttons on a sport coat, and I’ve
got them mixed up. The coat is a mess – with everything tilted
to the side, as if I’m on a skateboard flying by.
My brain goes into full panic mode
– Reee! Reee! Reee! Overload! Overload!
Can’t function! Can’t function! To this day I don’t
know if I put my right foot down and kept walking, or even if I could
The rest of the night, I was a shell
of my former self. But I was young, and after school got out,
I recovered, finding solace by playing baseball and hanging out with
Until, that is, I got a little envelope
from a strange address. I open it up. In it is a sweet note
from Rhonda’s mom. And – what’s this? -- a photo, of us
standing together, next to their fireplace – with my coat buttoned
And that’s when that tender wound
that had just started to heal tore clean open.
Oh, and her father left Huron to start
coaching one of the Red Wings’ minor league teams that fall.
Lot of good all that did me.
So, boys, this prom season, be sure
to double-check your coat to make sure you buttoned it properly.
Girls, be sure double-check your date’s coat to make sure he buttoned
it properly. And moms, if your daughter’s date didn’t button
his coat properly – don’t send him photos.
But don’t worry, boys. Even
if you do screw it up, you’ll get over it—after years of therapy
and light medication. You’ll be fine. Trust me.
Copyright© 2011, Michigan Radio Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnubacon
Copyright© 2011, Michigan Radio
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnubacon