Daily Archives: May 6, 2016

What I Didn’t Do At Senior Prom

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Back in the last century I was in high school. In 1986 I was senior and around this time of year, I was invited to go to prom.

The boy who asked me was the captain of the football team. He was the president of the athletic boys’ service club. He was a nice boy and over the four years of high school we experienced at the same time, I barely knew him. So I was a little surprised he asked me, but flattered nonetheless. He had a sterling reputation.

I remember the occasion, we were in the senior hall. I was probably late to class or something and the hall was quiet; I even think it was after school.

He asked me with a note. Like a piece of looseleaf paper folded with letters in pencil that formed words on it.

I suppose I was an intimidating person back then?

“No! You were definitely never a ‘glass half-empty’ person, you were always upbeat!” my friend said to me today, as we compared notes about the situation.

But what this is showing me as I remember it, is that this boy really didn’t know me very well either.

I got along with everyone in high school. I didn’t belong to a clique, I sort of hovered in and out of groups. If anything, I was likely most in alignment with the “preppy” crowd, simply because I loved cotton. I knew athletes, I was funny, I knew a few of the vo-tech crowd, some of the super smart people thought I fit in with them. I would say overall, that my high school class was pretty inclusive or not very cliquey…? I suppose I will be corrected, but I feel like by and large, we all got along.

My nickname was “Buffy” because I wore a Buffalo Yacht Club crewneck sweatshirt often and because well, I was from Buffalo and I guess because I was preppy. But that was how you dressed in Buffalo. Button-down collars, turtlenecks, Levi’s, khaki skirts or pants, loafers, and fair isle sweaters. Because I came from the land of snow, I had LL Bean clothing up the giggy, and I did a lot of sailing, so I think I was already preppy by default.

I didn’t know a thing about Jordache jeans or Sassoon clothes or Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. The school where I came from had a uniform: you wore a hideous plaid jumper every freakin’ day with a yellow or white blouse with a Peter Pan collar. Every fourth Friday we got to wear pants. While I utterly hated that uniform, it spared me from years of serious wardrobe missteps however, I had a hard time adapting to the idea that you didn’t wear the same thing every day for the rest of your life. I am sure I suffered some style bruises. In short, I was a style dork.

That this particular boy invited me to prom, was interesting. He was not flashy in the least. He reminded me even then as an older man; his stride was awkward and stodgy. Our coupling would be most unpredicted, and possibly entertaining.

If there was any scuttlebutt about his asking me beforehand, I had no clue. I had a major-league, like the kind you read about, crush on his best friend, one that I’d had since the dawn of man for years, and so by simple crush-anxiety-association I knew this individual. I was pretty good friends with his best friend though, the kind of “heyheyeah!how’reyoudoingi’mgoodyeahokherecomesBipsysookbye…” good friends that left you running home in tears from the bus stop or punching the hell out of a pillow imagining it the girl he preferred instead.

I’m good. I’m good.

In laughing our collective butts off /reminiscing about those days today with a good friend, I can say with certainty that if I had one class with this person, maybe two, it was Senior Art (which was so much fun) and / or Senior English. My issue is not so much that I don’t remember now if we had a class together then, it’s that I didn’t remember then if I had a class with this boy then. My friend laughed and said, “Wow, you really didn’t really know him very well…”

So no… we didn’t spend much time together at all.

I have harbored this story for 30 years.

I’m not bitter about it anymore, but it’s time I shared it. After all, what’s three decades? Thirty years. 360 months. 1,560 weeks.

We have a ton of mutual friends on Facebook but he knows to not even bother asking me anything again.

There are handful of people whom I suppose know about my prom night. This boy, whom I will mostly consider gutless, me, my parents (one of whom is dead), possibly his parents (and they should be ashamed of themselves), a couple friends I told in frustration and tears about what happened, and possibly one more person.

So back to “The Ask.”

I call it “The Ask” because my own son has asked a girl to prom. His “ask” was themed after a film set because he and his date met in film class. Their arrangement and situation is very much as how I constructed mine for prom:

  • nothing heavy-duty,
  • everyone’s leaving for college in three months,
  • let’s not fall in love or even try, and
  • can we go as friends?

My son’s invitation was cleared a few hours before he did the formal “promposal” (bullshit that kids have to put themselves through these days) based on a movie set theme because they met in film class junior year. Regarding “promposals” I read somewhere that the average budget for a promposal is somewhere between $75 and includes tickets to Beyonce and $500. UM… FOR AN INVITATION TO A FREAKING DANCE… People… save the money for college. Prom will never have a high return on investment, trust me, I know.

My son’s budget was $22.19. We spent the majority of the money on movie theater candy and white pen markers. They are going to go and have a marvelous time. Mostly because they’ve known each other for about two years and there’s no weirdness.

Back to My Story

That my “The Ask” was written in pencil should’ve been a sign. I feel like I’m 80% sure that the “invitation” was multiple choice… as in:

Molly, Do you want to go to prom with me?

A) FUCK YEAH! LET’S GO! AND VEGAS AFTER?!

B) IS YOUR BEST FRIEND GOING WITH US TOO?

C) MMMMM…K.

D) WHO IS THIS?

E) WHY?

-the boy who shall not be named… yet

If I know me, and my sense of humor and my treatment of other people those years ago, I’m pretty sure I would’ve added a choice which would’ve been this:

F) “F” is for going as “FRIENDS,” right?

I was just beginning to have an interest in another boy who was also completely interested in me and was very clear about his interest. This boy would walk me to class and he would wait for me after mine. It was all very sweet, and new, and I liked the attention. The prom date boy was much more subtle, shy and not nearly as invested in me. If there’s any data to the contrary, I’d love to see it.

>crickets<

So while we were alone in the hall this one afternoon, I do remember seeing him in person and we talked about it. I had not yet really dated anyone for more than a couple dates at our high school. I had dated other boys from other schools. Most of the boys I knew were friends. I had two brothers and my relationship with my mother was often conflicted, so my “girlfriend time” was reserved for a few select girls, most of whom shared energies similar to my mother’s (as I later learned in psychotherapy) so those relationships were sort of conflicted too.

I had major crushes on boys in our school, and I was on the market for a date or a beau, but nothing like that had materialized. I actually thought I was invisible to boys for a very long time.

Anyway, I said yes, that I’d love to go to prom with this boy and I wanted to be very clear that “we were going as friends,” and he nodded (denoting comprehension and agreement) and even said something along the lines of, “Sure! Totally! Easier that way… I get it.” To me, asking someone to prom, which was about four weeks (three days, seven hours and 32 minutes) away from the invitation was hardly a first date. It was the expression of interest in HAVING a first date, at least by prom. Plus I had that other guy online. 

Look, I can’t imagine the pressure to ask someone to prom. So from that regard, we handled it well.

The next weekend we went to a movie, I want to say it was “Nothing In Common” (HA! That should’ve been a sign) starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason. And in the dark, he leaned over to me, reached into his pocket, and asked me to hold his …

Asthma inhaler. No joke.

Snort.

I did. For 90 minutes I held his asthma inhaler. After the movie we went to an ice cream parlor. I am sure we chatted about the film as he drove me home. I didn’t write about any of it in my diary.

I’m sure we talked in the halls at school and I recall a few phone calls. We may have even gone to a party together or met up when we got there. I’m sure it was confusing to him (even though I was clear about it) that the other boy who newly held my romantic interest was lurking about.

The weekend following the movie, I brought him to a crab feast at a scrappy and established rowing club in Georgetown. My dad and mom were there as was one of my brothers, maybe even both. Putting a 5’10” asthmatic football player amidst a squad of 6’3″, 230# or stronger GodhelpmewhatwasIthinkingbringinghimtoallthatwhenIshould’vejustgonealonesoIcouldogle oarsmen was awkward for him I’m sure, but it was a social occasion and I was making an effort to include him in things, to get to know him better, and to do what I could to ensure we’d have a fun time at prom.

To me, I was reciprocating, doing everything “right.”

The next day, I went with my mom to a dress shop or the dress section of Garfinkel’s, a really nice store here in D.C., which had a “no-formal returns” policy, and I selected a lovely dress that was off-white / soft pink and reminiscent of the flapper-era (and being even then an F Scott Fitzgerald devotee I was all too ready to pay homage to my one true love) gown. It consisted of two parts: a sweet silk camisole-sheath dress beneath a gorgeous lace overlay with fringes and pearls. The buttons were covered in silk and went down the back. I had a nice pair of bone pumps to wear and my mom said I could borrow her string of pearls.

The next day I told him all about the dress and he nodded (denoting comprehension and agreement) and even said something along the lines of, “Sure! Totally! Easier that way… I get it.” (Yes, I used the same words as above because why not….)

Then either that same week or a week later, again by looseleaf paper, but this time in pen, was another note… the likes of which I will exploit because it’s my memory and my blog and while the wording might be off, the intention is on point:

Dear Molly,

I am a classless shit and I have no guts. I am turning tail and will not take you to prom even though I asked you three weeks ago, you said yes, we had an understanding, and you’ve bought your dress which is non-returnable. Instead, I will take someone else I asked the other day. She goes to another school, so you don’t know her. She said she would go with me and so I am an asshole. #sorrynotsorry

Can we still be friends? Please circle your answer:

A) Sure! No hard feelings. go to hell

B) I am a little hurt right now, but in time I will understand. I want you to have a good time at prom. go take a flying leap you asshole

C) Wow, this is awkward! Sure, have a great time! Love ya! go fuck yourself

and just for good measure I added one:

D) go fuck yourself.

-heath coward

I was humiliated. It’s not that I considered myself above him or better than he was, but who does that?! I mean really: who the hell does that?! Did his parents know he was such a shit? I never met them. Did he even care about what our mutual friends thought? I did.

All the boys with whom I was friends had dates already. The boy who I eventually dated around the time actually did take me out, but we couldn’t stay out too late. He took me fishing. Not exactly ideal and I couldn’t wear my dress, but I wasn’t alone crying in my soup. He was a nice boy and we dated for another six months or so and I cared for him a lot. It wasn’t meant to be and that’s OK, but he treated me well and took care of me that night. We are still in touch albeit virtual and very high level.

When I got home later from fishing (I still smirk at that), a good friend who had a limo and who’d dropped off his date due to her curfew picked me up and we went to a few of the afterparties. So I had lots of the fun and none of the pressure to put out, to get married, to HAVE A GREAT TIME NO MATTER WHAT!? or to leave. Vindication: the boys I hung out with later on said they’d had a better time with me and all our friends than they did with their dates. It was all just hanging out and I’m A FUN PERSON, DAMNIT!

So I didn’t go to my actual prom. But I was asked! And I said yes! And we had an understanding! So while I didn’t make a big stink about it, I didn’t keep it totally private. I was pissed but above all, I am a lady. I wanted to key his fake Mach 1 car. I didn’t. I wanted to booby trap him near his car so he’d step into a bag of dog shit and get it all over the inside of his car and it would stink for the trip to the prom, but I didn’t. I just ignored him…

COLD

AS

ICE.

I knew the girl he took instead. We’d met a few times over the year at games, parties and other events, months before he asked either one of us to the same event. I knew her through mutual friends. She was very funny, engaging, and outgoing. She didn’t (and still doesn’t) strike me as the kind of girl who would have said yes to him (or anyone) if she knew he’d already asked someone, especially someone she knew, who had said yes and who had already bought a dress. I know I wouldn’t have done that.

I may have some generalities confused and maybe some social events backwards or even not included, but I know for certain that he asked me to go to prom with him. I know for certain I said yes. I know for certain I held his “asthma puffer” during a movie; I know for certain I bought a dress and really loved it; and I know for certain he creeped out with about or less than two weeks before the event.

So when my own son asked his date to prom a couple weeks ago, I told him, “You better not welch on this deal. You take her no matter what. You take her. If she becomes a nun between now and then, you take her. If she falls in love and gets married, you still take her. If she confesses undying love for you even if you can’t reciprocate, you take her. If she asks you to hold her asthma puffer when you take her to a movie, you hold that puffer and guard it with your life. You take her. You still take her. DO YOU HEAR ME????????”

My son heard me. He will take her. She’s lovely. He’s classy. This is what you do. You don’t welch on a deal like that.

I’m not bitter. Anymore. Writing this was a little hard; I didn’t want to sound like a brat, but writing it brought me to I realize that I did nothing wrong. I have sort of been holding on to this concept that I caused it to happen, when I know I didn’t.  Catharsis can be fun!

Thank you.

The Mad Pooper

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This post contains the use of “shit” a lot.

Something is going on in my neighborhood and it is really strange.

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to say, “Don’t go on the grass. That’s where the animals go.”

I was a kid. Words mean things. Especially in their base sense. I didn’t understand what she meant.

Go.

Well, if you’re me, and a kid, you want to go where the animals go. You like animals. They’re animals.

Grandma and Grandpa lived near the zoo, so I thought, maybe a lion has been here. I would like to see that lion. Or a giraffe. Maybe a giraffe is in the back yard, or somewhere on the grass, like in a place that I couldn’t see, maybe behind that tall blue spruce pine she had on the corner yard.

Naturally, I’d venture.

ON THE GRASS.

HORROR.

My mother would hissper (I just made it up: it’s a confluence of hiss and whisper) and gesticulate, her arms flailing wildly, “GET OFF THE GRASS THAT’S WHERE THE ANIMALS GO!!!” as though I was some sort of baboon idiot, that’s where the animals go!!!. 

My brothers or cousins, if they were with me, would giggle. I would likely continue and make a jump to the narrow concrete walkway leading to the backyard, my cape unfurling with my leaps.

“Is this OK?” I imagine myself asking, while in all likelihood I just dashed toward the backyard or to the actual sidewalk toward our car, Grandma likely either passed out, or in a state of apoplexy because I’d gone where the animals go.

Go.

Lots of places were off limits when we were at Grandma’s.

The upstairs for one. I’ll never forget my intrepid oldest cousin, the leader of the pack, who basically decided one day that enough was enough. College was in the wings and she ventured up to the second floor, slowly in the dark because it was always unlit, creaking up the steps, one by one and into a room, we could hear the door open, and she RETURNED, ALIVE and utterly unchanged. The same person. Her hair was not suddenly gray. Her emotional state was totally whatever, teenager, unfazed… so bored.

“There’s just a bunch of boxes up there,” she said.

Just.

Like.

That.

The mystery vaporized. The way Grandma protected that space… Anything, ANYTHING, could’ve been up there: Jesus, a dead teamster, fresh candy, a carousel, a live chained grizzly, or a band of harpies…

But no. Boxes?! It never occurred to me that it would be boxes and a bedroom and no dead bodies or clowns or war criminals.

My grandmother was not a “fresh chocolate chip cookies from the oven stacked on a colorful stoneware dish served with a clear glass of cold refreshing whole milk at a table” grandmother. My grandmother was a “freshly opened bag of Oreos / Chips A’Hoy / Fudge Stripes placed on a floppy paper plate as you waited for a styrofoam cup of fresh skim milk at a table” grandmother. And that’s OK. What Grandma lacked in ease, she more than made up for in humor and kindness. And recitations of the rosary at 11pm when you were waiting for the return of your parents in her living room on the davenport.

So I think I finally got it this morning: “where the animals go.

Go.

She meant “shit.” Grandma meant, That’s where the animals shit.

I’ve been walking my kids to the same elementary school for the better part of nearly 13 years. We use the path we always have, not going where the animals go, and never in my time over the last two years, and this year especially, have I encountered literal dog excrement actually on the path, in a tidy pile or heap or lump. Sometimes it’s a lonesome part of a turd in one place and just when you think you’re safe, you encounter its scattered brethren about 12 feet down the line, smeared or simply waiting.

Dogs do not “go” on the path naturally; they like the dirt, grass, forest or mulch. Hell, they don’t even want to be seen on a sidewalk or path; dogs are fauna. Expecting your dog to defecate on concrete or asphalt is contrary to their Dogness, their very DNA. I suspect having a human following them around picking up their contributions to the ecosystem is an insult to their sense of being. I can’t say I blame them. I’d like to give up the habit altogether, but I know it’s not healthy for the community.

I digress.

So what the what with the people whom I’m convinced are out of their God-loving minds?! Who are very likely totally jacked-up on some substance and take their dogs’ leavings and purposefully deposit them on the paths?

If it were just the path to school I’d think that it was one dog and that it shits wherever it does because this is its way. That this particular canid was raised by ignorant humans and that it shits on the floor in the living room or kitchen despite its instinct to shit somewhere private, out of the way, because essentially the human place it lives has become its place.

So the owner takes the dog out and the dog shits on the path, on the street (no shit!) and even on the wooden bridges over the little streams in the ‘hood?!

To quote a dear friend, “Who does that?!?!”

Yesterday I took my dogs for one of our standard long walks. We were about two miles from the house. As we crossed a wooden footbridge where people like to fish near a pond, Charlie was ahead and he stopped in his tracks to lift his paw, sniff and move around a bagel-sized mound of “frexcrement.” (Another made-up word by yours truly, a blend of “fresh” and “excrement.”)

Charlie actually looked back at me as if to say, “Watch out, Ma, Cugo was here about 10 minutes ago and he’s really pissed…Step over this one… >sigh<…”  Murphy was disgusted.

So experiencing that turd pile so far from home blew my proximity theory: that the person responsible for either letting its dog shit on the path or for actually placing its dog’s shit on the path lived nearby.

I had a short list of suspects.

One is an jerk I’ve known and mutually disliked for years. He’s an ass and his dogs are massive, but I doubt it’s him because he walks that path too and as much as I dislike the guy, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t boobytrap himself…

The other suspect is a tenant in a house we pass en route to school each day. It’s an out-of-state family whose reason for being here escapes me as I don’t see anyone in a military uniform or seasonally appropriate clothes ever. The woman is likely younger than I am but doesn’t seem to live on our plane(t) so she looks like she’s from the Medieval era due to her ignorance of hair arrangement appliances, rain coats, boots or sanity.

Often I witness her and her child on my walk back from school (admittedly moments late because Thing 3 simply can’t be bothered to rush and I dig that about him) desperately reaching into a crumpled bag of Chee-tos and sharing a Dr. Pepper. Others they share a canister of Sour Cream Pringles and take turns swigging from a bottle of Diet Pepsi. Sometimes the child is engrossed in a video game along the steep grade to the school, angered by mother’s insistence of eating the Frito-Lay of the Day breakfast.

Don’t assume I’m entertained by this duo. I’m not. It’s frightening for me because while I don’t want to go there, I will: it’s a little close to home for me as my childhood mornings were just as frantic, save for the maternal accompaniment on the journey to school on frosty mornings or rainy mornings or sunny mornings… mornings in general. So while this mother might be wearing a sun dress, with no evidence of an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder on a frigid morning as she cravenly grabs into the Pringles canister, at least she is there. She’s walking her kid to school.

I suspect her and her tribe because there’s a dog in that house and the deposits have been on the the increase since they moved here. The last time I saw that dog was when it was in her arms… so… umm…. maybe not?

Anyway, lots of the poops are on the pipestem they live on and they go the distance to the school (I honestly can’t believe I’m writing about this…), but their freshness implies she’s been upright to let the dog out, but maybe it’s her child… However, as I said, the shits’ distance from the house now leads me to suspect there is a drugged-out or totally psychotic human being who is filled with enough rage against society to purposely deposit dog shit on the path.

Evidence of people stepping in it is everywhere: sneaker tread imprints, smears, feckless efforts to wipe it off on the asphalt or fallen leaves…

Are you bored yet? I almost am. It’s nearly over…

My incidence threat will be dramatically reduced soon because my kids are growing up.

I was saying to Thing 3 this morning that I will miss our mornings together as we walk to school, but that I won’t miss the poopy path.

He’s going on to middle school next year. My oldest is graduating and off to college and while the college he’ll be attending is literally less than 5 miles from our house, he will live on campus and have the full experience, so he won’t be here. And that will be different. I don’t want to say “and that will suck” because well, it won’t. It won’t suck. Yes it will.

Naturally it’s reminding me of when my older brother left for college, and that sucked. That whole scene was challenging because we moved from our home the same week he graduated from high school. The night of his graduation and related parties, he returned home to a massive Mayflower Moving truck in front of our home.

The next day that truck was packed, and pushed off from Buffalo to Northern Virginia and the day after that was my mother’s 47th birthday and we met it in front of our rental home. That was a radical time.

I’ve never understood the rush to get here that week. We usually would spend July in Canada but we came here instead. On her birthday. To the unbelievable humidity and heat and to my mother’s precipitous emotional collapse in a house she never saw and in a town she never accepted.

So I suspect I’ve taken to writing about the dog shit on the path because I don’t want to write about my kid taking off. I was texting one of my SILs the other day and I said, “Weren’t we just 26 and newly married last week?! wtf.”

Tempus Fugit.

Thank you.