“Before Prom: A Paradox” By Chad Robert Parker

My first date ever was Prom. Actually it was the date to get our After Prom tee-shirts. Yup, you could say my first date was three dates in one. It might seem strange but the formal event of Prom was my best opportunity for experimenting with High School dating.

A regular date holds more unwritten expectation to become boyfriend and girlfriend. Needless to say the dating world’s expectations are messed up. It’s not that young men don’t want to commit to a woman, when many girls at that stage feel vulnerable with the need to be valued by a relationship, but rather that some boys, like me, prefer to learn from the experiences of going on several dates and getting to know what type of girl we are interested in, before we are held to the perfection of dating exclusively forever after. Prom lets you practice all aspects of a date in one go, without all of the commitment paradox. It’s the drinking from a firehouse analogy, but it is what it is. That’s the context for my story.

My date nervously combed her hand through her long nest-like strands of white blond hair. She didn’t have much to say. I kept thinking of topics, one after another, but I didn’t get much play out of anything. We drove over a railroad track and my keys popped out onto her lap and slid off to the floor. She screamed. I laughed and asked her if she could hand me the key. She was distracted, confused about why the car was still running. Half of the key was long since broken off in the ignition. A screwdriver could start it (family secret blown). Then I killed the engine on accident and really did need the key to continue. It was the most entertainment we had.

It was funny because at Prom–driving a nicer car I was less familiar with–I fogged up the windshield. I had to pull over. My good friend, her twin brother, teased me for weeks, saying I tried to take advantage of his sister, twice.