America, January 1, 2005
And it only took me 15 years to realize it
It's my senior year of high school. We're talking 1989-1990 here, and I am trying to make my big move. I am attempting what few dare and even less succeed in doing. I wanna move up from the dorks to the cool kids. No need to try and make that move in the lunch room, we all go off-campus to eat, but there are specific times to make the move in school.|
One of these times is in my anatomy class. Luck would put me next to one of the nicest girls in my high school, we'll call her K, and her clock-stopping hot best friend, M. In front of me they sat and to them I made my upgrade pitch. Stories I told, answers I whispered, jokes I made all semester long to win their hearts and mind to my cause.
Finally, after months of wooing, I was ready to make the biggest move yet. One that took me weeks to build up the confidence for and is universal in its king-making and fool-ejecting ability. I decided it was time to ask M to the prom.
I leaned forward at just the opportune moment and made my delivery. I might have asked a little late, knowing me it could've been the week before prom, or maybe I wore the wrong shirt that day. Either way, her answer was swift and final. 'Thanks Wayan, but I already have a date.' Crushed, I sat back in my chair.
I wound up taking a good friend of mine who was trying to shake a crazy ex-boyfriend. A psycho ex who beat me up a month later for my chivalry. Still, that night we had a great time and I escorted her home by midnight, jaw aching from all our laughter and fun. Fun that while great, never did erase the words of M, which haunted me for years.
I can't tell the exact effect that rejection had on me, but I do know its sting was sharp 15 years later when, on New Years Day, I walked into a dinner party with my Mom in Vero and saw M.
I didn't recognize her at first, but when she said her name and referred to high school, the memories came flooding back like an Indonesian tsunami. Me, talk-a-holic Wayan, sat in stunned silence, just staring and remembering for a good hour. Not saying a word past an occasional mumble, I kept thinking of that year, that try, and my failure 15 years prior.
Slowly, as the night progressed, I found my tongue again, and we would up talking for hours about our lives past and present until I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to tell her of my ancient trauma.
In the re-tell, she laughed at the importance I put on the night and then revealed a very interesting memory. It seems that her date was already dating someone else by the time prom came, and he danced with his new beau all night. M, in her disgust, yelled at him and sought solace with K and her date. Then she said, 'I remember seeing you at prom. You were having a good time with some cute curly-haired girl.'
It took me a minute, but then I realized something amazing. M, in the middle of high school prom, regretted turning me down and actually felt envy for my date. Not only that, she remembered her regret and envy clearly 15 years later. Just as I remembered my hurt for 15 years too.
Well not any more. Not since that night have I felt a touch of hurt from my high school prom rejection. No, now I feel down right elated. Thanks M, you made my whole 2005 on the very first day.