What kind of loser makes it all the way to 12th grade having never been on a date in his life?
The kind like me.
Perhaps I should break it down for you.
How to Be a Dateless High School Loser
1. Junior School Banquet: Tremble with fear at the prospect of asking a girl to go with you. Once at the banquet, stand along the walls as if your very presence holds them in place.
2. Homecoming, Freshman year: Call Mary Pierce to ask her to go to the dance, then hang up as soon as she answers. When she asks you if you called, curse Caller ID, deny it and say it was your sister.
3. Homecoming, Sophomore year: Having given up on your ability to use a telephone, plan to ask Jenny Tillman at lunch. Just as you begin to get the words out, spill your milk carton on your lap. Dab frantically at your crotch with flimsy, brown cafeteria paper towels while Jenny and her friends explode into fits of giggles.
4. Homecoming, Junior year: Break into hives at the very thought of asking anyone to be your date. Stay home and play Halo 2 with the other guys who are too nerdy to have dates.
So, that’s pretty much the path I followed. But today all that’s going to change. Having no desire to become the author of How to be a College Dateless Loser, today I will actually ask a girl out. God willing, she’ll say yes.
The lucky girl, or intended victim, is Lucy Anderson. We were on the same church mission trip this summer. I think she likes me because she sat next to me on the bus and once she even let her leg touch mine as we bounced in our seat on the dusty Mexican road. Sitting there with her leg gently resting against mine, I told God if I died right then and there it would be just fine.
I strap a leash on our dog, Polar. My plan is to walk by the school just as Lucy gets out of dance team practice. Over the summer, she told me she wants to be a veterinarian so I know she’ll make a beeline for Polar as soon as she sees us.
Polar is twelve years old, so I carry her most of the way to the school and plop her on the ground for the last 20 feet. We arrive at the very moment Lucy exits the building. My timing is perfect because I’ve been stalking her for a solid week.
“Hi Jeremy! What an adorable dog! What’s its name?” Lucy scoops up Polar.
“Uh, P-P-Peanut.” Crud. I hadn’t planned for this. Contrary to the obvious implications of a name like Polar, my dog is a solid black Pug. I named her Polar Claw, after my favorite Transformer Beast War action figure, when I was in Kindergarten. It would be too humiliating to explain that to a girl like Lucy.
“She’s so cute. Are you walking this direction? My house is this way, too.” Lucy cradles Polar against her chest and rubs her nose against Polar’s ear. For the first time in my life, I wish I were my dog.
We walk in silence for a while as I agonize over what to say next. Lucy twirls her fingers around Polar’s curly-q tail, tugging it until it unwinds and then springs back into place.
She giggles. “How does that rhyme go? Boys are made of frog and snails and puppy dog tails?”
For the first time on our walk I look directly into her eyes, warm and friendly, and I’m transported back to that hot bus in Mexico. “And girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Lucy, I think you’re a really nice girl and I would love it if you would go to the homecoming dance with me.”
My heart is pounding and my ears ring with the sound of my new, sudden boldness.
“Jeremy, I’d love to go the dance with you.” She stands on her tiptoes and gives me a light kiss, soft as a feather, on the cheek.
Somehow I remember to get Polar back when Lucy leaves and bounces into her house. I can’t believe I have a date.
My Mom greets us when we get home, breathless and happy. “What are you so cheery about?”
I shrug and try to look casual. “Oh, I just changed Polar’s name to Peanut.”
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