There’s a cold sweat running down your neck as you see him turn the corner. Every other body in the hall turns into a blur and you see only him, casually strolling towards you. He doesn’t see you yet. You have time to unstick your dry tongue from the roof of your mouth and form the words you’ve been practicing in front of your dog. You know he wants to go with you. He has to feel what you feel. You will walk in together and a slow song will start playing and as you’re holding each other close, he will whisper he loves you and how perfect this moment is. He will pull back and look into your eyes and finally, slowly, give you that kiss you’ve dreamed about 800,000 times.
As I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer last night, she has a line early on about how her life has drastically changed since becoming a slayer and her biggest problem used to be decorating the high school dance. While I am not the Chosen One and destined to slay vamps, I long for the days where asking a boy to dance was the be all, end all of my universe. In those moments, I never thought I’d want them back, but here I am wishing for them and now, writing about them. What I would give to walk down those halls thinking about nothing but “When will he ask me?” “How do I ask him?” “Why don’t I have bigger boobs for this crucial moment!!!!!??”
In middle school, we had dances called Sock Hops. We had them once a month, I think, and they could only happen if we got enough chaperones which meant we usually had to beg our parents to come and stand around watching us deal with our early teenage emotions on a Friday night with disco lights and 90’s music. At these Sock Hops, the goal was to dance with the person you liked. Your friends would all stand around you and the guy or girl’s friends would be around them and you’d both be in deep discussion in your huddle, awaiting a slow song to come on so you could go ask or be asked. The prized possession was “Stairway to Heaven.” It was the longest song the dance would play and if you got asked to dance during that, it was clear the object of your affection like you back. I had a massive crush on this boy, DH. Such a crush. All I wanted was him to ask me to dance during “Stairway…” It was my dream.
One Sock Hop, my friends had arranged it so he knew I wanted him to ask me. I mean, I didn’t hide my crush well, I am certain he knew the entire few years I doted on him. But it happened. I kept glancing at him, he kept glancing at me. Everyone was involved in this happening. My heart was beating faster every time the song would change. It was awkward and extremely long. I mean, it’s a really long song. Every one of our friends were watching and giggling and whispering. It was kind of a surreal experience. He was warm against me and I could hear him breathing in my ear. His hands were loosely around my hips. I kept wishing them to tighten so I could feel him holding me more. I worried if we kissed would his braces cut my lips? I was ahead of myself. We didn’t talk, we just danced. At the end, we just sort of pulled apart and that was it. I don’t remember saying anything or him saying “Thank you.” I went back to my group of giggly girls and he went to his guys. I could still smell his cheap teenage boy Tommy cologne on my clothes.
In high school, we had more structured dances with actual dates. We had a Winter Ball and a prom. I had a crush on a boy who I have written about before but let’s just call him Charming for now. I loved Charming in a jump back onto the Titanic Leo loves Kate way. I would have done anything for this boy. Charming knew I existed, in fact was one of my close friends. But he never quite figured out how I felt until the Winter Ball one year.
The Winter Ball was, in my opinion, better than prom. You went out to dinner with a group of your choosing at a restaurant of your choosing before and then headed to the dance. More than anything, I thought this was the most perfect opportunity to confess my deep love for Charming and he would realize he felt the same. We were in between classes in the hallway. I stopped him and asked him, point blank, if he would go with me. The conversation went like this.
After I asked if he would go to the ball with me:
Charming: Oh. Really? Um. We’re just friends. (and he laughed like this was the most absurd thing I could ever say)
Me: Right….but I think we’d have fun…and um…
Charming: Well, I really want to ask Laura. I kind of like her. Do you think she’ll go with me?
Me: Oh. I don’t know. Probably. Ok. (and I legit turned and ran down the hallway)
At this Winter Ball, I was going with a very good friend and we had a total blast but seeing Charming with this girl, Laura, was devastating. Then he saw me and his face changed entirely. A wave of shock came over it and then it lit up. He came up to me at one point (my insides burst into flame thinking he’d ask me to dance. He didn’t). He touched my arm and said “You know, I should have gone with you. I’m kind of bored.” My heart stopped. I’m pretty sure it stopped entirely. I think I laughed and said something that I hope was witty but it warmed every inch of me. “You look so different. You look really pretty.” I died and came back to life in that moment. It gave me hope that someday he would love me like I loved him. That deep down he knew we were soul mates and destined to be married and live happily ever after. I did look good that year, too…just want to add that in.
This wasn’t the year but I also looked good this year. We all did.
Why was this so important? I can’t wrap my mind about what I was going through at that time. It seriously was all I thought about. I had nightmares around the time the dances were about to happen. All my prettier girlfriends were having their crushes and boyfriends asking them. My crushes never asked me. Don’t worry, I had the best dates on the planet to these dances. Many of them were boys who liked me and I was too busy crushing on others to realize. I remember how utterly destroyed I was when it didn’t work out. I was a brave girl. I always took it upon myself to ask. I even asked a senior to a dance once! They always answered that we were ‘just friends’ or that they liked Bethany or Alia. That seemed to happen a lot. Damn blonde best friends.
It was silly to hate on myself and let it consume me but at the same time, I am so glad it did. I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach flapping around when I would face the boy and ask him. I mean, how fucking brave was I? That’s kind of insane I did that. I still did that when I was dating, actually. I guess I’m a forward lady and I had to have learned it from these dances. It makes me want to write a letter to teenage girls out there and let them know that this deep pain they are feeling is nothing yet. It may take over your life for a few weeks a year but when you are older, you are so grateful you had that tingling sensation up your spine. I wish life were still that easy and I only had to worry about who I was going with to the dance. To me, having that boy coming over to ask you to dance was the greatest feeling in the world. It still is.