Forgive me for omitting names--it's not that I'm protecting the innocent so much as their families and myself. Too many of you are likely to have known these people or their families, and I don't really need to reignite gossip from 15 years ago.
This is going to be a long story. If you can't hack it, that's okay. It's mostly for Rebecca Marie, because she unwittingly played a supporting role in my teenage drama.
When I was a freshman in high school, I developed a wicked crush on my friend's older brother. We'll call him The Dud. I didn't know The Dud except in passing until the weekend when we were 2 of only 6 people who went to a far-away youth rally, when for some reason I decided he was the cat's pajamas. In reality, he was a quiet, moody, not particularly bright guy who cared more about basketball than he cared about everything else in the world put together. The Dud didn't have much of a personality, but that didn't dissuade me! He was a blank slate on which I could create the perfect man. I decided he was cute (he was average at best); I decided he was smart (being smart-mouthed does not always equal smart); I decided he was funny (being able to quote funny parts of movies does not mean someone is funny, it means someone can memorize funny things other people say); I decided he was charming (I obviously needed to watch a few more Cary Grant movies). To be fair, he wasn't a total troglodyte. He just wasn't the paragon of manhood I'd created in my overactive 15 year-old imagination. Even my sweet, supportive, sickeningly optimistic best friend couldn't figure out what I saw in him. But I was nothing if not persistent.
I pretty much threw myself at The Dud at least three times a week for two years straight. Subtle was not in my vocabulary. I even went out with one of the hottest guys at school that fall, but I always had my crush on The Dud to fall back on. I had always been the flirtatious type, but I was ridiculous with him. I might as well have batted my eyelashes, dropped a scented hankie, and swooned at his feet. Seriously. There was no possible way he didn't know I liked him. When The Dud transferred to my school when I was a sophomore and he was a senior, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. I got to smile at him in the hallways and stare at him during Chapel. When he joined the choir second semester, I was totally psyched. When he called me a few weeks before Spring Break/choir tour and told me that one of the junior girls (who was also in our youth group--and cuter and more popular than me) was in love with him and chasing him and driving him crazy, and he asked me if I'd pretend we were an item so she'd leave him alone? Well, the Heavens opened, the angels started singing, and I started looking for the perfect china pattern. We hung out after school in the gym, we goofed around in choir, we spent a lot of time together on choir tour--he even got a little grabby while pretending to nap on the tour bus (such a gentleman). I was just sure that it was only a matter of time before I was his official girlfriend and the envy of all the girls in my class. (Yeah, I wouldn't have been anyone's envy with that dope.) I even picked a pattern and bought the fabric so my mom could sew me a formal for the Junior/Senior Banquet (our school's version of the Prom--we didn't have dances, because evidently dancing is a big fat mortal sin). All of his flirting had me absolutely convinced that he was going to ask me to the formal.
Then one morning I walked into the office and saw his name on the Junior/Senior sign-up list. Next to his date's name: Becky Holden! (That's Rebecca Marie to you.) WHAT!?!?! Where did that come from? I didn't even know they knew each other very well. What the heck?! He was supposed to ask me! I was devastated. What did she have that I didn't have?!?! But it got worse. Later (don't remember if it was that day or a few days later) he sent the junior girl that he'd been trying to get rid of to tell me that he only liked me as a friend! Could there possibly have been a worse person to send? At first, my instinct was to blame the girls, but I soon realized that he was the jerk part of the equation. I got MAD. And then I got over it. I had this delicious epiphany where I realized that I had basically created a great guy in my head when he was really just kind of average in reality. And I decided I was done wasting my time on that putz. It was a shockingly fast recovery from a two year crush--too bad all heartbreaks don't heal so quickly and thoroughly!
But getting over it quickly wasn't the best part.
The night I got the "just friends" message, I went home and fumed. I was so over him, but I was still peeved that I'd been led on and that he'd been so jerky about the whole thing. Then Mom got a phone call from one of her coworkers. Kathy's son, Matt, needed a date to his Prom and he'd procrastinated big time. He went to a small school and didn't really want to ask any of the girls there because he didn't want "romantic entanglements." So he was to the point where he needed to find a blind date or he couldn't go--and he really wanted to go. It just so happened that his mom knew I had a dress (from a previous formal--which I attended with the youngest Bonner brother of Rebecca Marie's blog fame, but he was my bestest buddy, not a crush) and I was free the night of the Prom, seeing as how Rebecca Marie stole my man and all. (Hee! Thanks again for the favor, Becky.) Mom assured me that Matt was nice and very cute, if a little shy. So I blithely agreed to be my mom's coworker's son's blind date to his Prom! Who does that? I probably would have been too chicken if I hadn't been so infuriated by the shabby treatment I'd endured earlier that day. It was the adrenaline, I tell you!
Anyway, I wasn't even nervous because if it was horrible, who had to know? I figured I could survive anything for one night, and no one at my school needed to find out unless I wanted them to. Turns out I wanted them to. (Insert giant grinning face here.) Before he arrived to pick me up, Mom and I worked out a signal so I could let her know if I thought he was cute before we left. He was so cute, I forgot to give her the signal because I was too busy staring and drooling. Seriously, SO cute. All athletic and adorable with dimples and blue eyes and everything a teenage girl could want. It's not fair to meet a guy that cute for the first time when he's wearing a tux--it's just knee-weakeningly unfair. What's a girl to do?
We had such a fun time at the Prom. Matt was all sweet and shy, but with a funny, dry sense of humor. And since it was a small school and I was "fresh meat," I got a lot of compliments and attention from his friends too, which I've gotta say didn't hurt my self-esteem. We had fun, my hair behaved the whole night (for the first and last time ever), the pictures turned out super-cute, I was in top witty form, and a good time was had by all. When Matt got to school on Monday, his friends all pounced on him and started bugging him to ask his mom to set THEM up on blind dates. (I'm pretty sure that's a compliment.) Matt and I got along so well that he (the guy who wanted a blind date so he could avoid romantic entanglements) asked me out several more times over the summer--we were never officially in a relationship, and eventually his shyness and the 45 minute drive led the whole thing to sputter out, but I had a new crush by then and it was no big deal. I suspect I was some sort of dating practice course for him because the next year he was quite the ladies man at his school--his mom blames me for losing custody of her car because I gave him the confidence to ask a whole slew of girls out. And he and his friends made me feel like a genuine, certified babe instead of a pathetic reject. Matt and I remained genuinely friendly whenever our paths crossed. I went to the State Track Meet where he set a school record, and I think we even attended each others' graduations. I even made all the corsages and boutonieres for his sister's wedding a few years ago. It was probably the best blind date to a prom ever, and it happened at the perfect time. I wonder if he knows he did me a favor by letting me do him a favor?
But the best part of the story? Was the look on The Dud's face when he happened to walk by my friends and I in the hall while they were looking at my Prom pictures and freaking out over how gorgeous my prom date was. Yeah. He was, shall we say, crestfallen. Poor Dud! It was awesome.