"I'm going outside to walk around your apartment," Ashes said about two weeks ago, looking grimmer than grim.
I saw the paper she was holding in her hand, and new something was up. "What's that?"
"It's what I was talking about in the car." She held it up for me to see. In bold black magic marker she had scrawled, "NEED A DATE TO THE PROM."
I was interested to see how this would play out. In the first place, I didn't think she had the nerve to actually stand outside and hold the sign up. But if she did, I had severe concerns about the sort of person that would actually take her up on her offer.
Five minutes later, I had my answer. She was back in the apartment, looking somewhat sheepish. "I couldn't go through with it," she admitted.
Somehow I wasn't surprised. "Why don't you put something up on Facebook saying you need a date to the prom?" I asked. "What could it hurt?"
She looked visibly repulsed, as if I had offended her sensibilities. "Dad!" She shuddered. "That would be so embarrassing."
"More embarrassing than holding a sign up outside my apartment, looking for a date?" I grinned. "Look, why don't you just ask your best friend to go with you? You don't need to go with a guy, you know. You can just go with a friend and have fun."
"Bring Jo-Ellen?" Ashes frowned. "The whole reason for going to the prom is so you get a photo of you standing next to a hot guy. Otherwise, what's the point?"
"Well, anyway, I think you should go to the prom," I replied. "At the very least you can say that you went. It's like a right of passage. I know my prom wasn't the best of times, for me."
That was putting it mildly. I took my friend Pauline, and I didn't have a car, so I had to beg some friends to let us go with them. Eight kids packed into one car. It felt like a sardine can, and it got even worse after the prom, when the other six, who were actual couples, wanted to go parking. We had to wait outside in the rain and cold while the other couples fogged up the windows making out. It may have been the longest twenty minutes of vicarious passion in my life. How many times can you say, "Well, isn't this fun?"
A week later, Ashes called me. "I've decided to go," she said.
Well, I'm glad. And tonight, after one week of tanning, a serious do, and a new gown, I picked my gal up to take her to the prom. Her best friend Jo-Ellen went with her. And both of them looked beautiful.
About five minutes ago I received a text message from Ashes: "We're gonna go straight home."
"How was the prom?" I texted back.
Her response: "It just sucks."
Well, I can't wait to hear all about this. But I still contend, at least she went. It's a memory. And Ashes needs more memories. She needs more getting out there, she needs more interactions. Besides, she still has half an hour left.
Maybe a handsome prince is just around the corner.