Twelve short steps and an eternity in my mind. My stomach grumbled a bit, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had for lunch had long since wore off, allowing for plenty of room for the one thousand butterflies to flit and fly at will. She was beautiful, not sunset beautiful or beautiful like a bouquet of flowers. She was blessed with a universal depth and beauty that I was sure no one, not even God would have been able to look directly at without squinting. I chuckled to myself at this thought ,cheesy as it was it was true, but I also though that God would have a badass pair of Maui Jims so it really wouldn’t bother him at all.
At eleven steps to go I started to notice the sweat. Dripping from the back of my hair and between my over starched shirt and back, rolling unhindered down the curve of my spine and ultimately depositing in the waist band of my underwear. I knew what the last song was going to be, always a slow song, it would be Sailing by Christopher Cross, my friend Frankie was the DJ, he would hook me up. It was song that rarely penetrated the radar of my hard rock sensibility, but it was epically long allowing for all kinds of thoughts that would eventually lead to no action while dancing. Yeah….but just the thoughts were enough some times.
I would like to say steps two through ten were as memorable, but I don’t really remember, they flew by in a horny haze that left me dizzy and hoping the ghost in my pants wouldn’t wake prematurely. I didn’t need to wield a subpar weapon into this foray. She was standing near the stage of the gymnasium. The gym, had been transformed into a romantic hotbed of raging hormones and inadequate lighting, the disco ball creating a mood that felt like a full blown orgy could happen at anytime. Four out of twenty yellowish sodium vapor lights cast a backyard party glow, and the ruby red exit sign glow gave a red light district quality to a normally sweaty and competitive space.
She was talking to Wendy Crump. Wendy crump hated me, but as it usually happens, she was her best friend and I am sure that most of my longing glances, inadvertent brushes, and inappropriate mumblings were heavily scrutinized in their teenage girl conversations. It mattered not on this night. I was fresh off a speech from my father, who, being my biggest fan, said not to be afraid of rejection because who knows?
Step two introduced a fresh wave of anxiety. I straitened my tie and shirt, took a deep breath and stepped through the candy glass force field that took me from step two to the last step.
“Would you like to dance?” She smiled, thank God she smiled.
“No thanks.” She said it like someone had offered her a whiskey sour. My fathers voice came into my mind like a silent cheerleader. “Don’t take no for an answer.”
“ I promise I’ll be a perfect gentlemen,” I said with an awkward smile.
“She’s taken jackwad,” Wendy Crump spat. She rolled her eyes and turned away from me.
She took me by the arm and pulled me away from Wendy.
“Its not you, I am in a relationship with a girl from St. Anne’s.” She turned and headed back to Wendy.
My head filled with an audible buzz. I wasn’t expecting that. I turned and headed back to my jacket, the dance was over for me. Rejection seemed to sting less in this context. As I walked out I looked back and took one last look at her and wondered how one would manage watching her make out with the girl form St. Anne’s. I left with a new perspective and a mission…..another successful high school dance.