Hey, wanna come along with me on a little imagination trip for a second? (Sure you do!) Okay, suppose you enter your kitchen after returning from a pleasant evening walk, and your oldest son is sitting at the table...wearing an uncharacteristically...grave...expression. While Husband stands nearby and smirks--which could honestly either be reassuring or even more alarming--the teenager turns to you and states, "I have something to tell you." His tone of voice does nothing to alleviate my growing sense of unease, which expands further when he adds emphatically, "And you're going to Freak. Out."
Now, we may all be aware that I don't have a terribly high tolerance for tension, so this was already pushing my threshold. "Well?" I demanded, "What is it?" I had a split second before he spoke again to focus on his face while I steeled myself for his...confession?...and I suddenly realized that some of what I'd taken for seriousness might actually more closely resemble...the proverbial "deer in the headlights" look. Finally he dispelled the suspense by announcing, "I'm going....to PROM!" complete with a dramatic wave of his hands to complete the effect.
Ohhhh...myyyyy...WOOOOOW! I've gotta say, that was totally unexpected--especially considering the fact that I'd been asking this beloved young man on a regular basis for MONTHS whether he had any intention of attending the event, and each time he'd shrugged disinterestedly and replied, "Eh...I'm just not into it." So what changed? Whew...let me tell ya, that made for quite a convoluted and confusing tale. With that Storyteller's Disclaimer, I can't promise I'm going to get all the nitty gritty details right, but I'll try to capture the gist, as best I can recall and relay it.
The first and most critical thing to know is: we're blaming the whole thing on one of his school buddies--whose anonymity I pledged to uphold when I warned him I'd be writing about the incident...even though it wouldn't really matter, as everyone involved would easily recognize him anyway...nevertheless we shall call him..."Lou". You see, Lou DID want to go to Prom, since it is, of course, a major social event, and a rite of passage for Upperclassmen, and he understandably didn't want to miss out on the...hoopla. Therefore he--and I allow that this part is a bit fuzzy on the facts--apparently arranged to go with a girl who also lives in our neighborhood, since they've been good friends for a long time, both wanted to go to the dance, and neither had a date already.
Nice! What a happy ending, right? But wait...you might wonder--as I did--how in the world Derek managed to get himself dragged into the narrative? Weeellll...it seems that the young lady (who also needs a pseudonym if I'm going to talk about her, so she's now "Evelyn", okay?) had a girlfriend who also lacked a companion to escort her to the shindig. Lou and Evelyn were supposedly chatting about this dilemma, when someone threw Derek's name into the ring as a possible solution. Innocent enough, yeah? But that's when things went careening quickly off the rails, as Evelyn MIGHT have mentioned it to her mother...who's close to Lou's mom...and just like that, the speculative "hmmm, this might work" became a done-deal...WITHOUT Derek being informed. Like, at all.
Which is why, during lunch at school on Friday, when Lou's mother texted him something to this effect, he panicked, grabbed Derek, dragged him away from the rest of the group obliviously enjoying their meals, and muttered possibly the most dreaded sentence in all of humankind's history: "We have to talk." Lou then proceeded to bring Derek up to speed on the developments of the saga in which he had become unwittingly embroiled, all the while entreating him not to worry, and assuring him that everything would be fine....somehow. Oh, and did I forget to throw in there the amusing tidbit that Derek and this--I'm sure delightful--girl don't know each other? As in "have never exchanged so much as a casual greeting"? (Right--she's joined the cast of the...soap opera...now, so she requires an alias as well...we'll go with "Patricia"...are you keeping up? Very good...let's continue...)
And with a somewhat wild-eyed demeanor, Derek concluded, "That's all I know...for now." I had been following this speech with rapt attention, naturally, but now that he'd wound down and caught us up to the present, a burning question popped into my brain. "Um...sweetie? When, exactly, does Prom, you know, HAPPEN?" With a sheepish grin he admitted, "Next weekend?" As if feigning ignorance would make up for the incontrovertible fact that he had given us a WEEK to prepare...all I could think was, "Thank goodness he's a dude--all we really have to worry about is renting a tux and ordering some flowers!" (Yeah...neither of which we have any idea how to do...or even know if there's time enough to accomplish...but apparently, we're gonna figure it out!)
However, we seem to have gained an absolutely invaluable ally in Evelyn--who by all accounts is 100% On. Top. Of. This. By the end of the evening, she had sent Derek a lengthy text including pertinent information such as Patricia's favorite candy (more on that in a second) and the color of her gown (for corsage-matching purposes, of course. And yes, the girls had gone ahead and purchased dresses for the occasion...determining that they would go as a group, before the whole "Operation Friend Matchmaking Scheme" was hatched. Pretty remarkable foresight and organization, yeah? You go, girls!).
Now, about the sweets: at this point, Derek and Patricia STILL haven't actually, you know, "spoken to each other", much less discussed showing up at an iconic High School function together...but Lou and Patricia both gave their solemn vow that no matter what, she was going to say "yes" when Derek finally got around to asking. Because you see, third-person negotiating aside, it's not enough these days to just request the honor of someone's company in the old-fashioned way...noooooo, you have to do a (wait for it...) PROMPOSAL. That's right, you heard correctly. And perhaps you're with me in thinking, "I'm sorry, what the WHAT? When the heck did that become a thing?" Evidently you've got to make a cute sign, or bring balloons, or, I don't know, spell out your message in cookies, or come up with some other creative, goopy, silly-sweet grand gesture....to ask someone to a DANCE, for crying out loud!
Fortunately, since this was all very last-minute, and "arranged by others", and let's not forget "Derek and Patricia haven't even really met", Evelyn supplied the information that Patricia likes Sour Patch Kids. And Lou was feeling soooo guilty about his part in railroading his pal that he went to the store and bought a ginormous bag of them for Derek to present to Patricia when he gets around to meeting with her face-to-face and officially offering to accompany her, blah blah blah. (When Lou dropped by our house to pass the package o'sugar on to Derek, I approached to chat with them for a moment. I tried--I reeaallly made an effort--to give Lou my best Mom Glare, and pretend to be furious with him as he, when I was still probably 10 feet or so away, began apologizing profusely and earnestly for the "chaos" he'd inadvertently caused. It was adorable...and hilarious...and I swear he'd still be saying "sorry" if I hadn't broken into a grin and stopped him, letting him know I wasn't mad in the slightest and he wasn't on my Doghouse List. It was fun to watch him squirm, though...for the 30 seconds I managed to maintain my fake ire before I let him off the hook..)
Meanwhile, Husband and Derek embarked on a successful quest...for formal-wear....this morning. Since Patricia's outfit is black, I've been told, he selected a black tuxedo with a dark purple vest and tie ("like the Ravens' uniforms" it was explained to me--of COURSE there was a sports reference. Are you surprised? I didn't think so...). I'm not completely excused from duties, however, as my role shall be to supervise in picking out the corsage (which by the way is a word that I would bet you a million...Monopoly dollars...Derek had never encountered before this experience. So, you know, it's all very....vocabulary-enriching...or whatever. Also: "YAAAAYYY for flowers"! My part in the Prom-a-palooza plan rocks!).
Honestly, all the drama and hubbub aside, I'm super-psyched that he's going. When he kept telling me he didn't care about the Prom, I secretly worried that he'd eventually come to be sorry he missed it, and I'm glad he'll have this chance to make some special memories with his friends and classmates. As for me, I'm looking forward to seeing him all dressed up, and taking LOTS of photos...and, let's face it, trying my darndest not to cry (at least in front of him and his lady-friend...after he leaves, fuhgeddaboutit!)...and hearing all about it when he returns home. I guess I should look at the silver lining: true, we don't have much time to get ready...but at least we don't have too long to wait for the Big Day--ha!