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Last Song of the Night
The last song of the night. You always imagine it as being this fairytale where Prince Charming finds you after gazing at you all night, and you dance, and live happily ever after. No one ever says anything about it being anything less than perfect, so it always is, right?
This was the eighth grade semi-formal, I was wearing a pretty green floral dress and metallic silver heels, “Stairway to Heaven” was starting to play, and I was with my friends. I had watched my friend dance with her date all night, who she said was just a friend, but I knew they were getting too comfortable with each other to be “just friends” for much longer. As well as watching them have their ten minute walk up into heaven, I was watching a majority of my grade dance with their dates with my three dateless friends. I didn’t have a date, obviously. I mean, who on earth would want to go with me? The nerdy, stammering, weirdo of the female half of the class. I shouldn’t be so surprised that no one asked me, but I too am a normal teenage girl in the fact that I do want someone to think I’m pretty enough and fun enough to spend a night with. Not even a night. It was three hours, and I would have allowed them to go off with their friends if they wanted to—I wouldn’t be a date-zilla, or a drill sergeant. So more like an hour and a half, we would spend together. Couldn’t one halfway decent guy deal with that?
The four of us sat at one of the tables set up, watching the couples revolve to Led Zeppelin. Seems kind of strange when you think about it. Hard rock, bone rattling arena band and you’re slow dancing to them. Just something to think about.
“You know, they’re going to regret not asking us when we have perfect boyfriends from Pittsburg next year, and they’re left with the last of the girls,” Victoria said from her chair to the left of mine.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “I mean, look at some of the people they’re with and look at us. We are obviously the better of the two choices. Look at Deanna and Dylan…well, I guess that’s not the best example. They’re perfect for each other, and no one wants Dylan.” I quickly looked away from those two, because the only dancing going on between the two of them was that of their tongues. You’d think a teacher would step in to stop that. I guess the teachers thought it was gross too.
Kelsey and Alex were staying quiet, just nodding and listening to Victoria and I rant. They were never much for arguing over things you can’t really control.
“Hey, look at Rayno,” Alex said suddenly. We all looked across the room at another table where Mr. Rayno, our science teacher, was talking to about five guys, looking in our direction. My heart started beating at an incredibly unhealthy rate and my eyes went bug-eyed. I probably looked like a giant plant-eating insect in my cream-colored, floral print dress.
“Looks like Mr. Rayno is trying to get them to ask us to dance,” Victoria said. She was smiling brighter than she had all night—her crush was over there. I don’t remember if I was smiling on the outside or even on the inside, but no guy over there asking me to dance could fix my self-confidence, which was dropping faster than the ball on New Year’s Eve in Time Square. I turned my attention to my friend Alexis and her date, hoping that it was just a coincidence that the guys were looking over here when we were watching them, and that they weren’t actually going to ask us to dance.
At least three minutes passed and the song still wasn’t over. It had to be the second longest song I had ever heard. (Have you heard “American Pie?!) I had almost completely forgotten about the guys, when I realized Victoria was gone. Then I looked up. God, I wish I hadn’t looked up. At the moment, that was my biggest regret in my entire life.
There stood one of the guys that had been at the single-guys table. “Hey, Katie. Do you want to dance?” He looked a little nervous, and I couldn’t really tell in the dim lighting, but there may have been a pained expression on his face. I wouldn’t be surprised. I would be wincing too if my science teacher told me to go ask the giant aphid over at the other table to dance. I sat there with my mouth gaped open, stammering like I always do. I looked to Alex and Kelsey, whose eyes said it all. “Go, you moron!”
I stood up, not really remembering how I did it, even to this day, and walked away from my friends, my lifelines; the people who were supposed to be saving me right now. I looked back at them, whimpering like a puppy scared of getting whipped by a rolled up newspaper, when all I wanted was to get my food bowl filled. They just sat there, watching me suffer. Those friendship bracelets I made back in sixth grade meant nothing anymore.
We walked over to an empty spot and he put his hands on my non-tapered waist, and I wrapped my arms loosely around the back of his neck. His hands might as well not have been there, because I couldn’t feel a thing. I was numb with misery. All I could feel was the ache that had planted itself in the middle of my chest two weeks ago, gradually getting worse as semi got closer. We turned, and there he was, looking as angelic as ever, his arms around the waist of a pig faced girl (Not any of my friends, if you were wondering). Yes, the “him.” The “him” that keeps teenage girls up at night. The “him” that makes even the most well composed girl lose control of her mind. That infamous thing most people refer to as the “middle school crush.” And he was so close to me that I could count how many buttons were on his shiny green shirt, but we still weren’t close enough.
Those five minutes of my life passed more slowly than you could ever imagine. I was just thankful that he had asked me to dance halfway through “Stairway to Heaven” because if not, I would have been wishing for a genie to send me a greased slip n’ slide into H*ll as I was standing there revolving. Burning to a crisp with a bunch of convicted felons would have been better than this torture.
The second the song was over I flung myself out of his loose grasp and met up with Alex, who I was able to see, but Victoria was nowhere to be seen, and Kelsey was probably talking to Alexis. Turns out Alex ended up with Mr. Rayno, just behind me and my forced-date, and Kelsey was in front of me with a guy named Derek, who was just about the most revolting person on the planet. Alexis found us and was all smiles, and smiled even more brightly when she found out us loners got to slow dance with someone for the first time for every one of us except Alex.
“Who did Victoria end up with?” I asked Alex as I grabbed my purse from the table.
My mouth dropped open and I smiled for the first time in about twenty minutes. “She was with Hunter?” A.K.A Victoria’s crush. “Oh my God, I’m so happy for her!”
“Yeah. Did you see who I was with?” Alex asked, as we began walking toward the door out of the gym.
I nodded solemnly, trying not to laugh too hard. “Yep, I sure did. And it was the funniest thing I have ever seen. Okay, second to the looks on Kelsey and Derek’s faces. They both looked so miserable. Priceless.”
“Well, dancing with Rayno had to have been worse. I might as well have been dancing with my uncle.”
Kelsey walked up behind us, shivering at the thought of what she just went through. “That was the worst thing I have ever had to do. I feel like I need a shower.”
Alex and I laughed and Kelsey shot us ugly looks that obviously were telling us to stop, and fast.
We found Alexis and walked out of the gym, craning our necks to try to find Victoria in the crowd. No luck. The four of us said our good byes and dispersed, except for Alex and me.
The two of us went our separate ways after a few minutes of our mothers talking in the lobby. I wasn’t necessarily miserable anymore, but did I kind of wish that I could go back and change what happened, even just a little? Of course. Everyone has something that they want to go back in time and change for the better, but we all know it’s impossible. There is no such thing as genies, or magic, or time machines. You can’t stop what you don’t even know is going to happen. And I think this night helped me realize that. But I still wish I had gotten that slip n’ slide.