Previously, I spoke of this situation in the second part of my MPJ story (photos removed to protect the anonymity of the subject--and because I was asked to nicely). However, let's delve a bit deeper into how embarrassingly awkward my Senior Prom was for me and possibly because of me. May 20th, 2006. A day I'll probably never forget--mainly because of its Preakness-esque problems. See, I'm not always the victim in these and I'll own my foolishness.
For starters, my mom and stepdad, Roland, thought it’d be a good idea to drive me to my date, a young model-in-training named Jenny (Ed. Note: Name changed) house. Okay, that's kind of forgivable. I was my mom's only child and y'know, pictures and whatnot, since I was going to my date's house. Plus, I was broke, so I didn't have party bus money. The day of the prom, my stepdad gets all jazzed up, to look like a chauffeur, to drive a 2006 Chevy Impala. Again, I own my loser-esque qualities in high school; it was an awkward time where I finally got to be a kid (kinda) and not an adult in kid's clothes. So, my awkwardness was brought on, mostly, by adjusting back into normal social roles.
Anyway, the car was pretty nice, and was a step-up from riding in the Speed-mobile, also known as my family’s minivan. For some reason, Roland has some sort of van fetish. Maybe it’s because they're cheap, or maybe he wanted to have a big-ass family and he could live out his dreams with a Grand Caravan. I don't judge. But, the Impala was a nice car. It was sleek, it was metallic silver, but it was still being driven by my folks.
Things would have gone better until my folks then decided to invite my cousin along to take pictures of me at Jenny's house. Now, my cousin is good people, but he sometimes gives off a vibe of "guard yourself," possibly because he carries his photography equipment almost everywhere. I mean, he almost took a picture of my mom's body at her funeral; had to stop that with a swiftness. But, it also doesn't help that he lacks tact and tells it how he sees it.
So, there we are, all piled into a rental Impala because my stepdad thought it was "limo enough," going to pick up Jenny. My cousin blabbed on to my mom about random family happenings, while his camera equipment dug into my thigh. Meanwhile, I prayed that things didn't completely go to crap.
We made a left turn from my folks' place right into Preakness traffic. For those who don't remember, 2006 was the year that Barbaro was slated to the Triple Crown...then broke his leg in 20 places and was later put down.
With that said, traffic was even worse than usual for a post-Preakness atmosphere. We sat in traffic for an hour to get to the 83 exit by sucky-ass Sinai Hospital (Ed. Note: Sinai, as noted in parts of Unhinged: The Case Study of Speed on the Beat, was where my mother was officially declared dead. Their approach towards helping me "cope" was to make fat jokes about my mother). Thankfully, once on 83, it was smooth sailing--except for the fact that my stepdad shat bricks on 83; he hates driving on any road that doesn't have stop lights. Once we got to Jenny's house, the fun really began.
Everyone piled out the car like a bunch of clowns and we waited outside, since Jenny wasn't ready when we got there. Then, her friends showed up and we all have one of those “look at you, Speed! You grew up so much from that pudgy damn-near midget kid who had a crush on one girl and got kicked in the balls by another because reasons" moments. You can trust in old friends to goad you about things that happened years ago to try and have a few chuckles with you that usually end up turning into chuckles at you.
Once inside, Jenny comes down. She towers over me, since I’m 5'7 on a good day and she was model-tall without shoes. That’s not a bad thing, as I'm used to being the Kevin Hart of the group, minus the jokes and the monetary awesomeness. However, everyone decided to just go on and on about it, including my parents.
"He looks so cute standing next to you," my mother said as she became trigger-happy with her disposable camera. "He looks like a little man."
"Jeanette, don’t embarrass the boy," my stepdad requested, sensing my uncomfortable disposition.
"Aw Roland, you don’t know nothin'. That’s my baby," my mom retorted as she snapped more photos on what seemed like her fifth camera.
"Aunt Jeanette," my cousin began, in his booming, yet somewhat goofy, voice. "You gotta let Johnthan grow up the way he's gonna grow up. This isn't y'all assed-out homeless anymore. Besides, how you expect him to have sex when you taking pictures."
Jenny turned to me in horror and it was then that I knew that I'd screwed the pooch.
As we emptied out of the house, Jenny began to speak on her phone. Nervously, I suggest that I can make her forget about the phone. It was less of a sexual thing and more of a "holy crap, I know that was awkward. But, please, for the love of God, let's not completely ruin this night" plea. As the night went on, she continued on her phone, and eventually left me during the prom, saying that she was "sick." I really feel that it was because I was so stupid in focusing on MPJ and her datelessness--and the pre-Prom shenanigans. Plus, she was a model-in-training. She probably was busy booking calls and shoots; kind of rude, but I get it. We were both rude in some ways.
We got down to the American Visionary Art Museum about an hour after the prom started. Of course, I’m posing, styling, profiling, and looking overall straight pimped out. My date, as previously mentioned, was yakking it up on the phone, which kept me outside of the prom for an even longer time. Why? She was afraid she'd lose service.
When I finally made my way into the spot, after I take my keychain photo, the first person I saw was--you guessed it--Ms. Pink Jacket, dateless and feeling like a "third wheel" (her words, not mine). She wore a green dress reminiscent of that J. Lo dress from back in the day. Of course, me being me as I was during high school--in other words, still crushing hard on MPJ--I decided to walk over (after making sure my date was okay, of course; not that much of an a-hole) to where she’s at and strike up a conversation.
"Wow, it’s so crazy that we’re about to graduate. I’m gonna miss you, girl," I said to MPJ, fake-crying for humorous effect.
"I'll miss you, too. You were always so unique," MPJ said, as she adjusted her dress.
I look down at my keychain photo set, noticing that I'd only gotten one versus the standard two sets.
"What do you know," I began. "I have another set of keychain photos. Wanna go take 'em?"
"Sure," she said, and off we went.
When we took the photo, and I’ll probably never forget this moment, I made sure I let her know what was going through my mind. As the photographer began to signal us to take the photo, the photographer motioned for me to hold her closer. She looked into my eyes, smirked, and leaned in, closer to my face. My arms draped around her and my hands were on her butt. Look, when you're me in high school with the girl you'd been crushing hard on for years that close to you, you'd be like YAS QUEEN too.
"This is it," I thought to myself. "I’m finally going to get somewhere with Ms. Pink Jacket, for real," forgetting that, you know, I was there with someone. Hormones and teenage puppy love had that effect on me. Time began to slow down and all that stuff. She and I moved closer, in plain view of practically everyone. Our faces were, pretty much, cheek-to-cheek. And then it happened.
"Attention," the AVAM’s PA system blared. "We are about to announce Prom King and Queen. All students return to the dance floor for the coronation." She smirks at me and begins to tug on my arm.
"Guess we've got to go back," she said, right before the photographer takes the picture. MPJ and I headed back upstairs where our guidance counselor, Ms. London, stops us.
"[Redacted]," our guidance counselor said. "You won Prom Queen! Congratulations."
"Did I win anything, Ms. London," I jokingly asked.
"Speed, you didn't even enter this year," she responded.
"Touche," I retorted as I walk off and grab my seat next to me date. She gives me a somewhat sickly eye which also has the sense of "Speed, you screwed up what you were trying to not screw up." And, once we got to our afterparty, Jenny left me. This, of course, set up my failed attempt to kiss Ms. Pink Jacket, as discussed in part two of my MPJ story.
To this day, if I could, I'd go back and not be as standoffish with Jenny. But, to do so, it'd have to go both ways. She'd have to leave her phone alone and I'd have to stop faux-flirting with MPJ. All in all, though, it was a weird night that wasn't all that bad...just weird as hell. As it led to me confronting my fears with MPJ (and all that entails), I wouldn't have traded how things went for anything. See, even in our darkest, kind of D-Bag moments, we can learn something about ourselves and better ourselves--if we're willing to see the light in the darkness and all those cliched phrases.