Just when you think you’ve reached the absolute limits of humiliation, your dad steps in.
I mean, sure, I know it’s every girl’s dream to go to prom with her dad because her boyfriend dumped her, but call me a rebel. I’d prefer the crummy boyfriend who looks like a young Christian Bale to escort me to the biggest social event of my life.
We were talking about prom when it happened. I told him a little about the dress I’d spent two weekends searching for – about how the front cut away about mid-thigh to reveal the bright turquoise satin underneath. He’d seemed disappointed by that.
“Not a fan of turquoise?”
“Naw, it’ll be fine.” He grinned and leaned over to kiss on my temple. “Not like you’ll be in it forever or anything.
I was too busy memorizing the shivery trail from my cheek to the pit of my stomach to process that right away. We hadn’t been dating all that long, but boy, he knew how to bring out every girly, cow-eyed reaction I didn’t know I was capable of.
“So I should bring something to change into for the afterparty?”
It was his laugh that clued me in. That and the direction his lips had been headed. I leaned back about an inch and made myself ask what he meant.
And he told me. Not in a piggish way like a lot of guys do. He was slick. Used the “L” word a lot – how long he’d loved me from afar. How he could feel our love deepening daily. How my resolution to take it slow made him love me so much more. And how he expected to be rewarded for his patient love come prom night.
A corner of me that really wanted to believe him. Okay, maybe more than a corner. Maybe the corner was the part that said quietly, blushingly, that sex wasn’t part of my prom plans.
That corner was the first to shatter when I heard the whispers the next day. The other “L” word. About how I preferred company of a different sort, and how lucky he was to have escaped before it got serious. I went home that day prepared to pull the covers over my head until graduation day. That’s when my dad knocked on my door.
By the time he’d gotten about a sentence into his spiel about the convoluted way he’d heard about the problem, you could’ve used my face as a Mcdonald’s fry-warming lamp. He kept it mercifully brief, but interpreted the strangled groans I was making as agreement with his plan. By the time my voice recovered, he’d patted my knee and left the room with the parting comment,
“Not every dad gets to take his baby girl to prom. This means a lot.”
I made up my mind to dp it. No point in not going. Maybe he’ll be awesome enough to realize what he’s doing and drop me off at the door. Free dinner and an evening with friends wouldn’t be a total wash. Yeah, right.
He’s in a tux. A tux. And he’s holding a white rose.
I pray the world ends before we make it to the restaurant.
Dinner is excruciating. The restaurant is full of people who know me. Every time I hear giggling, I flinch. Dad tries to lighten the mood by telling my about his prom. I’m okay until he mentions the word “bell-bottoms” to describe his prom night look. Now I’m nauseated as well as nervous. Sick, Dad, really.
By the time we arrive, you can hear the music yards away from the door. I stiffly accept my dad’s arm. I’ll be graduating in a few weeks, I tell myself. No help. I can still feel the blush prickling along neck and up to my cheekbones. Dad, on the other hand, is beaming.
We’re inside just long enough for me to register the “Gothic Passion” theme in castle silhouettes and black roses when I hear the first laugh. I turn, clutching at my rose, to see him with his arm around Chelsea’s waist, pointing at me. I can’t hear the words over the bass, but he’s set everyone else laughing.
“Sweetheart?” According to Dad’s tone, I must be at death’s door.
He steers me to a black cardboard castle and offers something. I can’t see through tears and blacklights, so I grab. A hankie. He brought a hankie. A giggle escapes.
“Old school, Dad, really?”
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