A Prom(ising) Date for the Brave

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

A Prom(ising) Date for the Brave

The prom is like the Olympics of high school. You wait four years, three people have a good time and everybody else gets to live on with shattered dreams.” –Prom

Michael opened the refrigerator door for the umpteenth time that afternoon and stared down the corsage.  As with every other time that day, the floral arrangement gave no sign that it noticed the onlooker.  The red roses sat there with their deep, rich colors; the silky texture refused to wave or yield for the teenage boy.  The corsage remained passive, its emotions as hardened as the plastic box that served as its temporary home.  Soon, the corsage would find its real home, its true place, resting on a lovely young woman.  Of course, all that depended on Michael keeping his resolve.

The whole evening made less and less sense to Michael the more he thought about it.  He still had a hard time believing that Noelle had said yes to him.  The head of the track team was newly available, thanks to her boyfriend’s “indiscretion” behind the gymnasium.  Neither Michael nor his friends really thought that the famous redhead would have deemed him worth her notice.  But, with the promise of free cafeteria chicken burgers for a month, Michael had taken the dare.

He had walked up to the tall girl, her uncontrolled hair blocking Michael from her peripheral vision.  When he cleared his throat to signal his approach, Noelle had turned around with a piece of lettuce still protruding from her lips.  Michael had turned his eyes away in embarrassment and Noelle’s friends had giggled excitedly at what they guessed was coming.  Somehow, despite Michael’s awkwardness and the unromantic status of the conversation, he had managed to squeak out the question.

“Hey Noelle.  I’ve always thought you had a quality about you…”

“Quality?”  Noelle raised an eyebrow.  “What sort of quality, Michael?”

“Well”, Michael said with a pause.  He was shocked that she even knew his name.  They’d had classes together, sure.  Still… she knew his name?  “You seem, I dunno… nice.  And confident.  I admire that about you.”

“Thanks”, she replied as she put down her fork.

“And you’re hot.”

The table erupted with laughter at that.  Michael felt that the table had lost all interest in eating their lunch and was no focused solely on him.  He swallowed his throat and put his finger in the neck of his shirt.  The t-shirt had always sat loosely on him before, but now he found himself suffocated.  He considered caving to the utter humiliation of the scene.  Then he noticed the way Noelle was looking at him.  There was that kindness he liked about her, sitting right on her face.  He took a breath and tried again.

“I mean, attractive.  I suppose you could say ‘hot’.  All the guys do.  But, I mean, it’s more of a grace, y’know?  Like you’re pretty and all that, but you walk around without knowing it.  Even when you’re running, you’ve got this calm poise about you.”  Michael felt himself rambling.  “Does that make any sense?”

Noelle’s expression became very quiet.  If she had been considerately attentive before, she was now fully engaged in their conversation.

“Thanks”, she repeated.  “I really appreciate that.  Did you come all that way to say that?  Did you maybe have something, you know, else, that you wanted to ask me?”

“Actually, yeah”, Michael said, picking up the ball that had been gently lobbed at him.  “I was wondering if you’d feel like going to the prom with me.”  Michael had never felt more awkward in his life.  Noelle had certainly been respectful and kind, but that was no guarantee that she wanted to spend an evening with him.  Fortunately, Michael’s waiting was short-lived.

“Sure”, Noelle replied as the cafeteria gasped in response.  She pulled an unused napkin from beside her plate and nodded towards Michael’s constantly full shirt pocket.  “Mind if I borrow a pen?”

Noelle proceeded to write down her number and Michael hazarded a look over his shoulder.  He turned to his friends who were four tables away and flashed them the double thumbs up.  The table pumped their fists in the air silently, but then a look of alarm spread over some of their faces.  They made wild and panicked circling gestures with their arms until Michael finally caught on.  He returned his attention to Noelle to find that she was waiting, a bemused look on her face.

“Here’s my number.”  She said, handing the previously ordinary napkin over and bestowing upon it the rank of sacred treasure.  “Why don’t you call me tonight and we can talk.  Sort of, discuss plans, and all that.”

Michael grinned sheepishly and took the napkin which he handled carefully.  He nodded and starting walking back to the normal table where he belonged.  It wasn’t until he was twenty feet away that he remembered his manners. He turned, yelled, “Thanks!” and was met by his friends with a round of high-fives.

That had been three weeks ago.  Michael had been too terrified to call Noelle right away, so he waited until his nerves had calmed down to a somewhat reasonable level.  For the day’s purposes, “reasonable” would have to be defined as stammering only once every five words.  Still, Michael had managed to take a deep breath and dial up Noelle’s number.  He looked at the number on the napkin one more time to be sure, but his retinas had already burned the number into his brain from an afternoon spent studying its writing.

The phone conversation had been surprisingly easy.  Noelle seemed much easier to talk when Michael didn’t have to look her in the eye.  They had ended up talking for a good half hour and even had talked some since.  Sometimes it was a simply text message from Noelle asking how Michael’s day was going.  One time they talked about college and summer plans for almost an hour.  Michael couldn’t understand why she was being so nice.

The weeks of nervousness had all given way to today.  Michael had followed Noelle’s instructions and had purchased a corsage that would match dress.  She had tried to explain the details of how beautiful it was, but he admitted that he couldn’t keep up.  Once he heard the words “red” and “strapless”, his brain started to shut down.  All he knew was that he was taking the greatest gal at the high school to prom.  Even the jocks had stopped flushing his gym socks down the toilet.

Michael paced back and forth in his living room.  His parents had promised to be gone when Noelle showed up for their drive to the prom, but Michael was suspicious.  They seemed to continually find errands that needed to be done around the house that would, “only take a second”.  He didn’t feel that the kitchen lights and the top of the cupboards required dusting, but they were adamant.  If nothing else, Michael’s father had been useful in helping with the formal attire.  Michael had never worn a cummerbund before.  He figured it was some sort of royal sash.

The limo was due to arrive in half an hour and Noelle was supposed to appear in fifteen minutes.  Michael gulped for the umpteenth time that night.  The doorbell rang and Michael could feel himself sweating through his dress shirt.  As he walked to answer the front door, Michael noticed that both his parents were watching from around the kitchen doorway.  When they realized they had been discovered, they ducked back into the other room.  Michael rolled his eyes upward and moaned in annoyance.  He took one more breath, placed his sweating hand on the doorknob, and opened it.

“Hey, Michael. Are you ready?”

Michael tried to respond, but he couldn’t speak.  There, standing in his doorway, was Noelle.  To call her stunning was over-simplifying things.  The sleek red dress hugged her body while the slit down the side showed off her legs.  Her usually unkempt curly hair was pulled back and swept up, giving way for a red piece of fabric to drape under her chin and down by her shoulders.

“You… you look great”, Michael replied.

“Thanks”, she said with a smile.  “You too.  Very handsome.”

“I like your scarf”, he offered.

“Oh, this?”  She laughed and put her fingers to the loose fabric.  “It’s actually a wrap.  I thought it added a little dramatic flair.”

Michael nodded and stepped away from the door into the living room.  It was the closest Noelle was going to get to an invite to come in, and she understood it as such.  Michael couldn’t believe that Noelle was here.  In his house.  About to go on a date with him.  His curious nature got the better of him.

“Can I ask you a question?”

Noelle had been taking in her surroundings.  She stopped and turned to Michael.  “What’s up?”
“Why are you here?”

“What…what do you mean?  You asked me out?”

“Yeah”, Michael replied.  “But why did you say yes?”

“You’re a nice guy aren’t you?”

Michael only shrugged his shoulders.

“I’ve found that there aren’t a lot of nice guys in college.  I’ve noticed how you clean up after lunch when someone leaves a mess.  You helped Mrs. Nolan get around and got her chair for her when she had that surgery on her hip.  You take care of people.  Why wouldn’t I go out with you?”

“You’re pretty out of my league”, Michael offered.

“We may not have the same friends, but that’s not much of a reason, is it?  And just because I look confident when I’m running, doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out.  We all have our baggage, Michael.”

“Really?”  Michael was intrigued.  “What kind of issues?”

Noelle laughed.  “How about we get through this date first?  Maybe we’ll talk about our shameful quirks on the next one?”

Michael had a hard time believing what he was hearing.  A second date?  That lunchtime dare might have been the best thing that ever happened to him.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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