i met my junior prom date in first grade, but i don't recall any interactions with him until sixth grade. colleen, who would fail to popularize wearing shaker sweaters backward, and i sat in front of him in history class. in a moment of pure comedic inspiration, colleen and i both wiped a slime trail of snot onto a piece of wide ruled notebook paper and passed it back to him. like it was just a common note. he opened it. saw the boogers. and immediately walked it up to mr. h's desk and handed it to our teacher while pointing back at us. we were crippled with laughter.
surely mr. h would find this crude gesture funny. gum chewers in his class were forced to stick the wad of hubba bubba to the blackboard. if you passed gas in his classroom, like my junior homecoming date, mr. h made you wear a diaper for the rest of the period.
mr. h called colleen and me to his desk, pointed at the matching snot arts and said: this is disgusting. no. really. this is seriously gross and weird and i think you both need psychological help.
in junior high we called colleen "pig in a pink mini skirt" behind her back. she introduced me to aretha franklin. and told me she had a huge crush on this super hot guy. this singer named "tracy chapman." eventually colleen moved to colorado springs.
in eighth grade i broke up my 10-month relationship with the skateboarder, but only when i knew that my junior prom date was going to ask me out. my junior prom date and i both were on the lourdes' cross country team. early into our eight-day courtship, we were running 800 meter intervals at twinkie field: 100 meters out and a dogleg to the right into some trees not visible to coach g, who was holding a stopwatch at the finish line.
a few laps into the workout, some of us lazily followed the lead of some upperclassmen, and stopped running all the way to the end. we ran until coach g couldn't see us. waited an appropriate amount of time. turned around and jogged back.
my junior prom date told on us. from then on, we called him "the narc."
in my head, our breakup was borne of my junior prom date's fear of kissing me: i was a worldly 13 year old boasting a 10-month resume of dexterous tongue kissing with the skateboarder. he had gone out with two or three people max for about 15 minute increments.
my friends and i were gathered in dong's basement playing a game we invented, called "ripfest."
boys versus girls, shouting out such scathing character jabs as "oh yeah?! well, your perm makes your head look like a stalk of broccoli!" or "oh yeah? well you're flatter than a four year old boy!" which eventually led to "oh yeah? well the only reason you broke up with me is because you are afraid to kiss a girl!" i accused my junior prom date.
that unleashed a frenzy. ripfest was in full force. no zit, no bad hair day, no fashion faux pas, no pit stain, no dyslexia went unmentioned. we were a squaking frenzy of coke-drinking, cheeto-eating teen on teen hate crimes.
fannie and i slugged back to her house, defeated by ripfest. i picked up a red folder with the words "never tear us apart" written on the cover. it was my novel about my relationship with the skateboarder, the title homage to "our" inxs song. i stared dumbly at the ground and eventually tipped over, weeping into fannie's bedspread. i'd broken up with the skateboarder for this? a prudish narc who didn't like snot jokes? this novel was going to be so good ...
fannie's mom knocked on the door, and came into the room.
"you okay?" she asked us.
"we're just talkng about my novel," i said, showing the folder to mrs. fannster.
sophomore year, my junior prom date came over to my house. while he was genuinely a nice kid, self-depreciating and cute in his lanky awkwardness, i believe his intentions were naughty. we were leaned against the fireplace hearth, eating stale popcorn and watching a movie and barely talking when i noticed he had made a horrifying wardrobe adjustment.
i sent him home. but since he'd driven all the way across town, i conceded to kissing him. later, telling the story to my friends, it was so surreal i couldn't even believe that this was an actual scene out of my actual life.
it was understood i'd not be going to my junior prom with the train, my on-again-off-again boyfriend. he was going with the holder of a division I basketball scholarship, wrapped in obnoxious blonde waif: his other girlfriend. the one whose friends were dating his friends and so was more convenient and socially acceptible and didn't have a curfew.
i spent a lot of time that winter wondering why my enemy, the woman i hated most in the world, was also the loudest person in the hallways, commons, parking lot. even the ponytail she wore on top of her head was irritating, mocking me with its stupid bounce.
i don't remember my junior prom date asking me to go with him. i do remember that it was a relief to have a date who was easy on the eyes, one of my good friends, and who i could -- in a pinch -- consider romantically.
i found an embarrassingly floofy purple dress and i got my hair done by a woman who thought i said "elizabethian, please." fannie's hair looked better: a take on a 1980s housewife, as seen in the st. pius church directory. my junior prom date got to my house before i'd slipped into my formal wear.
i spent the night sending longing looks at the train. my dress slipped down around my waist while dancing, giving one math teacher, a grateful dead fan, and my date a poor excuse for a peep show. for whatever reason, this did not embarrass me at all.
"it just looked like any other boy's chest," my junior prom date shrugged.
lourdes fielded a decent boys basketball team in the 1993-94 season, my senior year. a pack of mid-sized, above average athletes: overachievers who spent summers and weekends shooting freethrows and playing pickup games in the gym. in those days it was safe to entrust the keys to the school to a dopey 6'4 post player stuffed into the drivers' seat of a festiva.
the first round of the Section 1A playoffs pitted the eagles against pine island -- a far inferior team. our boys got off to a slow start, were down at the half, and seemed en rout to a loss.
my junior prom date was the sixth man. the first one off the bench. not a star, but tall. for the entire second half, everytime he touched the ball, it went in the hoop. he could shoot from half court. he stole the ball, then raced in alone for a layup. he made free throws when he was fouled. he was en fuego. the game of his life. i can picture him bounding down the court with a huge smile, knobby knees and fist pumping, flailing a bit and unsteady.
our boys lost, but man, my junior prom date had a heck of a game.
we all went off to college. and then we all graduated and moved back home to rochester for lack of more creative options. fannie and i picked up my junior prom date for a night in altura, minnesota. he came bounding out of his parents house, hawaiian shirt and jabby elbows. he took an awkward and angular leap over his parents shrubs -- like a deer competing in the steeple chase -- and jumped into the car breathless. i'm not sure what it will take to erase that memory from my brain.
my junior prom date had met a girl that none of us liked, for all the reasons you don't like your guy friend$'s silly attempts at finding girlfriends. it could be anything from her name, which sounded like the name of a cartoon animal, to her tongue ring -- which we were too vanilla and judgey to see as anything other than the decorative decisions of a low rent stripper. she also wore a lot of blue eyeshadow. my junior prom date had a poster-size photo of this woman dressed as a rabid cavewoman. that loin cloth she was wearing didn't help our opinion.
they would date. they would break up. they would date some more. during one break, my junior prom date seemed interested in fannie.
"go for it," i hissed to her. "take one for the team."
this became my mantra everytime she expressed doubts in actually becoming romantic with my junior prom date. "you get in there and take one for the team!"
my junior prom date and fannie dated for about the length of a work week. not consecutive, mind you, but a work week none the less. in fact, we refer to that time period as "the work week."
my junior prom date bought a six thousand dollar engagement ring, proposed to the ol' cartoon animal cave woman and i fell down the steps at their wedding. three months later and one curious hacking into her email account and they were divorced.
the last time i saw my junior prom date was on new year's eve -- sometime between 1999 and 2004 -- i honestly cannot remember. we were gathered for a party at the elks lodge or vfw in hopkins. fannie and my junior prom date fell into a liplock at midnight. then he got distracted by a cute blonde he vaguely remembered from college.
he got her phone number, but told us he didn't get her phone number. then he told us he got her phone number, but said he wasn't going to call her. then he got remarried to her.
then he fell off the planet. or at least my radar.