Suggested Audio Candy:
 The Jackson Sisters “I Believe in Miracles”
 Duran Duran “Rio”
 George Michael “Careless Whisper”
Time is running out. I’ve had plenty of chances and there has always been something stopping me from telling her how I feel. Study the facts; she is possibly the most popular senior ever to walk these halls and then there is me. I have never been what you would call one of the cool clique. While she has been attending the most prestigious parties and hanging with older boys, all of which have transportation with more than my two wheels I might add, I’ve been skimming stones with a group of non-entities. Maybe that’s what has prevented me from acting on my impulse, the fact that I would clearly be punching above my weight. Yet, as much as I am clearly heading for a fall, I still feel compelled to roll the dice. After all, there is nothing much to lose tonight.
It has all come to this. After tonight it is unlikely that our paths will ever cross again. She has got into Stanford and that is right at the other side of the state. She will inevitably get snapped up before she gets allocated a locker and I will be left pondering what if. I’m sick to the gut of what if. Where does it ever get you anyway? I’m fully aware that it could all end in tears but, if I surrender to probability then I will leave the prom none the wiser. I don’t fancy a whole summer kicking myself for not having the cahones to at least try. I’m expecting a knock back, anything else would be either an act of God or alcohol impairment, but I’ve had my beady eye on her all night and have received Intel from a reliable source that the punch has definitely been tampered with so what’s to lose?
I’ve watched her movements intently for the past five years and occasionally she has given me a glance. Granted, it’s been an uncomfortable “are you following me?” kind of look, but I’m sure she is used to the attention. Being homecoming queen automatically raises your profile to legendary status and I wouldn’t be the only one to witness her flaxen locks dancing around her neckline. She probably gets it all the time so I’m assured my stalking has remained low-key enough not to be considered creepy. Of course, my room decoration would need a rethink if anything were to happen as I think she may find the dozens of photos of her taken while she has been unaware a touch disconcerting but I shall cross that bridge if and when I come to it.
I need to rehearse my lines before I go over there. The last thing I need is to stand before her with a gormless grin on my face and a mouthful of hot air. That’s the hardest part of the whole deal for me, breaking the ice. If I start badly then it could all be over in a matter of seconds. She probably gets approached all the time and hears every line in the book as she has never been short of admirers and I know of several boys who have failed spectacularly attempting to ‘get into her stockings’. Thing is, I have learned from their fumbles, I know what not to say and, besides, I’m not interested in what she is packing behind that prom dress. Okay, you’ve got me, I’m kind of curious but it is so much more than just a physical attraction.
You see, she’s not like the others. Despite being largely considered the most beautiful girl ever to walk these halls, her mind doesn’t operate like the droves of mindless sheep. For a start, she is academic. Strict parenting and an authoritarian father has fast-tracked her to womanhood and she has never so much as had a detention the whole time she has attended Princeton High. Instead, she has kept her head down when others have lobbed blackboard chalk at the supply teachers and separated herself from any sort of foolishness. That’s strength of character right there, this girl has age beyond her years. Her eyes look like they have two lifetimes of experience behind them and I find that captivating. I’m banking on that to make my advance, if nothing else, I’m positive she will let me down lightly and do so with tact and kindness.
We have actually known each other since pre-school. Back then we were all friends, before any social divide sorted the swans from the geese. We’d play together daily with none of the complications which adolescence provide. That all changed as we left primary school and, the past five years, we have hardly exchanged a solitary word, but I know she remembers. I may be a goose but I’m a good goose. That has to count for something here. I think I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be and simply will not let this moment pass me by. One way or another, I will know the answer, and can move on with my life accordingly. Expecting the worst is just remaining realistic but I believe in miracles after The Jackson Sisters drummed into me that it’s the only way to be. Thanks girls, I shall send you my heart to repair after it breaks clean in two in around two minutes.
My palms are clammier than a Catholic priest’s, throat has almost closed up, and I’m pretty sure my suit jacket is a size too large as I just caught glimpse of myself in the mirror and I look like I’m headed to a Duran Duran comeback tour. There’s three good reasons to cut my losses right there, but I shall not be taking them. If there’s one thing that the occasionally cruel scholarship experience has taught me, it is that without a steely resolve I am unlikely to amass to anything much in life. You have to find the balance between being confident and self-effacing, a little humility can go a long way, especially with an angel like she. My picture may well be towards the back of the year book and the passage beneath it may well be nondescript compared to more effervescent personalities, but I’m a still a legend, at least, in my own back yard. I pray that will be enough.
I may be mistaken but this seems to be the last dance. Careless Whisper by George Michael is the kind of song you just can’t follow. A cursory glance at my wristwatch confirms this as we are no more than five minutes from the witching hour and I already see the deejay packing up his vinyl wares. No more time for pensiveness, it doesn’t matter how many times I stroke my chin, the stubble won’t appear any faster. It has never been so now or never, every second that passes is an opportunity for someone far cooler, better looking, looking less like one of Adam’s ants minus the war paint, to snipe her from the outskirts. A girl like this would never make it to the first chorus without being set upon at least three times and I can already discern a disorderly queue beginning to form less than ten feet from her coordinates.
I wish her friend wasn’t there hanging in her oxygen like a fart in a sauna. Charity, I think her name is. Actually, who am I kidding here? Everybody knows her name and there is one reason for that. She has seen more adolescent cock than a Phys Ed teacher. This girl is reported to have once given blow jobs to three boys back-to-back without so much as a swig of mouthwash punctuating each gobble. It’s not that which concerns me as I know that they are chalk and cheese and she wouldn’t ever partake in such frivolous sexual pursuits. The thing that bothers me is that she is her voice of social reason, I clearly wouldn’t match up to her criteria and she would make no qualms about informing her friend that I am beneath her. That kept me awake last night more than any other factor and, true to form, she hasn’t left her side for the whole evening.
Shit, here comes Blaine. There is always one guy over which all the girls swoon. Blaine is that particular sleaze. Surely she would see through his ruse, I mean, the dickbag isn’t even wearing any socks for fuck’s sake. No socks! Why? Why should he be able to get away with such an act of ridiculousness without being pelted with garden vegetables? I tell you why, because his brogues alone set his parents back $130 and the suit hanging off his perfectly chiseled six-pack likely cost more than the limo ride up here. He will be the first to drive, the first to make a million and probably the first to catch Gonorrhea and gift it to the masses. He’s clearly a date rapist, his cologne alone is probably laced with Rohypnol and there’s a dumpster out back with one lucky recipient’s name against it. Please God don’t make it her.
The Gods are evidently on my side tonight. He slid across the floor like a turd on a toboggan just as I had anticipated but honed straight in on Charity. To my immense fortitude she accepted his advance and the coast is now clear for me to take my last chance and bag this last dance. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that she said yes, after all, the word no isn’t one she is familiar with. For her, the dumpster suits just fine. When it comes to the STD in question, it will be her donating the seven-week itch, and the first that dumb prick will know about it is the moment his pee-pee bears a radioactive glow. It’s a good job your folks can afford a good obstetrician son as your yearbook entry may as well say most likely to be contaminated and you haven’t the faintest clue how you’ll be spending your summer. Scratching like a flea-bitten mule.
No more procrastination, do it now. The stars have aligned and I will never have another opportunity like this to close a chapter of my life without a cliffhanger for once. I think she has noticed me anyhow, how could she not? I’ve been orbiting her for too long to remain inconspicuous, a few more seconds and it will definitely have moved into creepy territory, if that isn’t the case already. She’s smiling which is a distinct plus, granted it’s a slightly lopsided smile and not the most encouraging at this point, but it’s a start. Moreover, it’s my cue. I’m determined to take a mental picture of this exact moment as this is what five years at Princeton has amounted to. Standing here, balls on the chopping board, cleaver raised and colander on hand to collect the trimmings. I’m making my move.
My throat, already closed to around 15% capacity, has pretty much sealed up entirely. Fate can be cruel when it knows what’s at stake and I’m barely able to muster a note but somehow my bloody-mindedness culminates in a careless whisper of my own. “I was wondering” Here comes the bush-beating. I’m determined to skirt the subject but there’s only so long that a silence can remain comfortable with the guillotine teetering overhead “if you would do me the honor of” Get to the point, come on now, this should have been wrapped up by now and the I can hear the darkened recesses calling my name already “sharing the last dance with me”. There, I did it, I may not exactly have been eloquent in my delivery, but the words are out there now and cannot be taken back. I am not kept waiting long for my rejoinder.
“Okay.” Unless I’m mistaken that bonus ball completes a clean sweep. That sounded decidedly like a yes so why is it that I am frozen on the spot? Maybe I am lodged in Blaine’s snail trail. What other explanation could there be for the fact that my legs have become little more than dead weight? It’s as though my slip-ons have become entrenched in concrete but thankfully she seems to have picked up on my damsel in distress moment and is offering me her hand freely. It’s not so much new-found strength that carries me forward, more gravity, but right now I’ll take it. Inside I’m dancing at this moment and, in a few seconds, I will be required to replicate that with none of the grace or poise I possess in abundance in my head. Perhaps she’s visually impaired, it worked for Lionel Richie after all. I knew I should have mastered the pottery wheel when the chance presented itself.
I think she can feel my nerves. Despite this, she still leads the way. I wouldn’t say I’m at ease but there’s definitely a calming aura washing over me and she isn’t giving off a negative vibe unless I’m woefully mistaken. I normally pride myself on being perceptive and there has to be a point when the realization dawns that the hardest work is behind me now as I’m currently sharing a spotlight with the undisputed queen of Princeton. Right now I’m dazed and intoxicated by that perfume. My nose is nuzzled into her soft neck and my right hand intimately rested against the delicate fur between her shoulder blades. Guilty feet have got no rhythm, mine are both of the left variety but somehow I’m remaining vertical. Sure, I’ve trodden on her pumps three times already and have discovered the key to live rigor mortis en route, but I’m doing it. I’m living the dream here. John Hughes was on to something all along, this is that pivotal moment. I must cherish it.
“Listen. You have to know something before we go any further as I feel it’s only right” Ominous start to a sentence but, please, continue. Tongue is now totally barren, no throat and those damn clammy hands have made an unwelcome reappearance “It’s not going to happen. You and me. I’m so sorry, I really wish it were different but I don’t see you in that way” This is identical to being shot with a tranquilizer dart and already I can feel my calves beginning to tighten. Good job she is holding me up as I currently have all the vertebrae of a Portuguese Man of War. There it is, the moment of sharp pain off-center of my sternum. The fatal blow, five-fingered death punch, already delivered and awaiting repercussion. In a few moments I will be hitting the boards with the same velocity of Charity’s panties. Scrap that, she’s commando. What am I thinking? Back to the impending heartbreak.
I’ve got to ask the burning question while I’m topside, got nothing whatsoever to lose now and closure will help me to nurse my wounds over the coming weeks. “Can I ask why you agreed to dance with me?” That took every ounce of resolve and I’m proud of myself for putting it out there before the time passes. “Sure. You remember when we were maybe five or six?” Of course I remember, every moment we have shared together plays on perpetual loop in my head. If only you knew how much I recall. “Go on” I do my best impression of playing it cool. “I fell off the wall and grazed my knee. I was crying and you offered me your sleeve and stayed with me until the school nurse came. I will never forget that you know”. I can actually feel myself welling up, finally some moisture somewhere other than my pants.
“There will be someone perfect for you not too far from now I promise you. You’re a sweet guy with a good heart and unlike most of the idiots I have to deal with on a daily basis. They’re all the same, only want one thing, and that is the reason I am still a virgin. That’s for me and you to know, I already trust it will go no further. I don’t divulge to anyone but feel that I should share with you after what you did back there. It showed courage and I respect that. I have caught you looking on numerous occasions. Hope that doesn’t sound conceited but it’s just truth and I have been raised to have integrity. In answer to your question, I am dancing with you now as I want you just to enjoy this, I’d have no problem sending most guys packing but not you. I want you to leave this dance with dignity as you deserve that. That’s it, I hope I have explained that okay. I know it’s a lot to take in all at once but I’m not leaving you until this song finishes so I really hope that helps you relax.”
Astonishingly it does. Feeling has returned to both of my legs, circulation has officially resumed, and I do exactly as she requests, relaxing enough to savor these last few grains of sand. My head is held high, she explained herself beautifully and, moreover, showed great tact and kindness where many wouldn’t have seen fit. The last dance of my school life has been bittersweet but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Well maybe the conclusion. Let’s be real, every word that just left her mouth only made me adore her more and it will be a rough ride over the summer for damn sure. But I have closure and nobody can ever take this last dance away from me. As the song fades out and the light around us fades back in, she leans over and plants an affectionate kiss on my left cheek and moves towards my ear with her one careless whisper. “Be lucky” I owe it to her to make that so.