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The Climax Never Comes
All I’d ever wanted was for my life to be just like a romantic comedy. I figure I’m the kind of everyman underdog—like a young Adam Sandler—that American audiences could root for to get the girl. I’d do just that as hilarity ensued, all leading—as every movie I’d ever watched led me to believe—to the big dance. She’d end up slow dancing with me, I’d say my first serious line, we’d kiss, and the camera would pan out while some one-hit-wonder of the 80’s played and the credits rolled. In other words, the perfect ending.
It goes without saying that—unless Molly Ringwald returns my calls—this could never happen, but I believed that it could up until my first dance with an actual girl. I had managed to set up the romantic comedy dynamic flawlessly—slowly winning her over with my comedic charm as the American public fell in love with me—so I thought I’d be realizing my dream for sure.
But there was no romantic slow dance. There was grinding, which is to be expected at such an affair nowadays—and isn’t something I’m opposed to—but it wasn’t quite what I had been looking for. I had envisioned something slower, sweeter, and, well, a little less sweaty. Still, though, I hoped and waited, my heart’s pace inverse to that of the music. The last slow dance came and went, taking my hopes with it. I hid my disappointment as best I could—which wasn’t hard since I had at the very least had a fun night—and took my date back to the limo.
Cut to one year later and I’m trying my luck yet again at a dance. I’d chocked my previous failure down to going with the wrong girl—I’d have a word with the casting department later about that one. This time would be different, because this time the girl I was taking was my actual girlfriend. I’d already finished awkwardly wooing her, so I figured my fantasy was a sure thing.
The scene of our arrival occurred just as the sun—that great studio light—was casting the last of its soft rays at the order of some unseen director. The sky was still shrouded in her pale blue dressing robe, not yet in the flowing black dress worn for the role of night. So although eager for my dance, I had to wait; there weren’t many others—hardly any of them dancing—there yet, and my date was made noticeably nervous by this fact. So we waited. Despite the postponement of my long-awaited perfect moment, the night began well enough. Couples’ photos gave us something to do—we chose an oh-so-classy waterfall background, since my black suit and her fancy blue dress simply screamed tropical—and set the tone for what I believed would be a magical night.
Until dancing seemed acceptable, we killed time by finding each of our friends and introducing the other. This was a bit awkward at times—although awkwardness is how I get into character—but I paid only half attention anyway. I couldn’t take my mind away from the thought that once Night herself came on set, the rest of the cast would follow and sixteen years of filming could finally be called a wrap.
The small talk continued for ages until Night, that incorrigible diva, finally finished with wardrobe and made her appearance on set—so suddenly and gracefully that you’d never notice unless you had been watching the entire time. She’d chosen a sheer black dress sequined with starlight for this scene, and it covered the set with an almost oppressively strong magical feeling; Night only did one take, and she wanted everyone to make it perfect. With Night came a chill in the air, the director urging us on; it was cold outside, but it was warm where everyone was dancing. Taking his cue, I turned to my date and delivered my line flawlessly. “Care to dance?” The words glided out of my mouth in a tone that was suave and adorable at the same time, and with an ease that made them seem to be the only words I ever needed to say. I waited, feeling pleased as punch with my performance, for what I was absolutely sure would be a positive response. And I waited. And as time passed, I thought, “Oh no, she forgot her line,” and I’m about to feed it to her in a whisper when I see the look on her face. The image of it was worth an entire script, and every word of it was “No.”
This girl, I thought, my girlfriend, does not want to dance with me. My mind went blank and I tried to ad-lib as best I could. I. Am. Heartbroken. These words formed in my mind but never made it to my lips. Instead, I figured that the show must go on so I do my best and I ask her why not, why she cannot dance with me. She talks and talks but there is nothing in her answer. Lines read with no emotion. She dances around the question more than she will dance with me. Without any sort of reason, I could only blame myself; only think I am not good enough.
No one had yelled cut, so I had to keep going. I played the role of the good, patient boyfriend—even despite my gnawing insecurities—as I always would. Still, it struck me as extremely odd that she remained at the dance—where people tend to, you know, actually dance—after so completely refusing to even step on the dance floor with me. I tried for a while to have fun without dancing, but she wasn’t exactly making it easy for me. She’d gone from dodging my questions about why she didn’t want to dance to ceaselessly apologizing for not dancing. The word “sorry” flowed forth from her mouth in such volume that I couldn’t tell if she really meant it or if she was just trying to absolve herself of any feelings of guilt. Either way, the apologies only made me feel worse. I shut out her voice and started my big monologue for the scene. Am I so pathetic that she can just apologize for not dancing all night, when the dance floor is just feet away? Am I so pathetic that I can just sit here and take those meaningless words and act like I’m okay with this? Why won’t she dance with me anyway? Something is wrong with me. I am, for whatever reason, not good enough—but I don’t need to sit here and be reminded of it. So I got up.
I stayed on set but I went anywhere other than the bench she and I had been sitting on. I found people, any people, to talk to—I needed them to help me forget momentarily. For an instant I could laugh with them and pretend my night was unforgettable for all the right reasons, as I knew theirs were, but only for an instant. They’d always have to run off to go dance or they’d see someone else and I would get left alone until I moved on to the next person. I did this a few times, but I felt guilty after a while about leaving my date alone, so I hurried back to the bench. I saw no one, and for me, the set went quiet.
I didn’t have to ask what my motivation was for this scene; I frantically looked for her, checking every possible place over and over, all the while thinking Don’t be gone, please, be anything you want, but don’t be gone.
And when I knew without a doubt that she was gone, I could only think This is not my movie. Things were not supposed to be like this, not ever, not for anyone. So why for me? Hundreds of others would have their perfect moment tonight, perhaps like mine or perhaps very different, but perfect to them in every way. Why not me? It all comes back to me being different, to there being something wrong with me. But what?
My thoughts were interrupted by the tap of a man’s hand on my shoulder. Administration. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that they were coming for me, that I could be in trouble. After all, wasn’t I the victim here? The man motioned for me to come with him—I assumed we were going to the office—and I followed, for the approximately fifteen feet he led me. There stood my date’s mom, come to get her things that I had been holding on to in my pockets—she hadn’t had any and mine were quite large—and give me a look blaming me for this entire affair. I was speechless. In my mind, I could only think Line? Line? Line? as I struggled to find the words I needed to get out. Why didn’t she dance with me? Why did she go? Why are you acting like this is my fault? She rejected ME, she crushed MY dream, and she ruined MY night—and all I did was try to give her an unforgettable evening. I am guiltless.
I may have been guiltless, but there were certainly other feelings raging around inside of me. I was HUMILIATED. Everyone I saw, and I mean everyone, had to ask “Oh, where’s your date?” My anger filtered every word until I was convinced that they knew and they were mocking me. All of them, with their perfect fairytale nights that I would NEVER get to experience, I could feel nothing but anger towards them. They were, it seemed to me, the blessed—effortlessly having the greatest times life could provide them, and taking every moment of it for granted.
I wandered around alone for a while, stuck somewhere in-between self-pity and self-hatred. There was no hope of me salvaging the night, no hope of me making any kind of fond memory, so I just walked. Alone. My insecurities, awakened by the events of the evening, went wild in my head. I looked up to the sky and asked What is wrong with me? And Night was so appalled by my question that she stormed off to her trailer, her dress left hanging inside out on the set, its celestial sequins now impossible to see, like a million eyes all closing in shame.