To quote one of my favorite TV detectives (Monk):
Here's what happened...
At approximately 9PM, I watch a few people going to the prom enter the common room; then I work up my courage and follow. After showing my ticket and entering the commons area, I mention to a friendly adult chaperone that I had never been to prom before and ask, "what should I do?" “Food is downstairs and the dancing is in the theater,” came the reply. Okay, easy enough. I go downstairs, where only a couple of people have gathered. It is early, so early, that the party had barely started, and the only people I knew in the room were the adults. I panic, pace-walk into the bathroom, slip out my phone, and call my 24-7 counselor (a.k.a. Mom) for guidance. She reassures me, advises me, and encourages me to "get back on the battlefield."
Okay, I can do this. Go back out. Look at the food, take a cookie, look around again for a friendly face, see not one, pace-walk back into the bathroom again. It has been 5-10 minutes since I walked into prom. I call Mom. Poor Mom. She was hoping to watch a TV episode at a friend's house. Sorry Mom.
Thank you Mom. She reassures me again, advises me again, and encourages me again. “Try dancing.” Thank you again Mom. I go to the dance floor. It's beautiful: golden balloons, colorful lights, dancing music. I watch and listen. I move a little to the music. Then the “Cha-Cha Slide” comes on. Everyone joins in and dances to that. So do I.
The second song is a slow "romantic couple" song, but people still dance in groups. I am not in a group. I watch; I move to the beat; I try an experiment to see if the vibrations of the music through the floor change from place to place.
A girl from a group saw that I was dancing alone. She moves towards me and dances along, asking her group to include me. I am thankful. We dance a lively dance to a slow song, and it was fun, even though the tempo of the dance differs vastly from the song. After two songs, the group dispersed. I stand off to the side again, watching.
A couple from running team sees me. They invite me to dance with them. I am lucky I have good friends like these – even though they are on a date with each other, but they still went the extra mile (!) to include me. We dance for a song or two.
About this time I start getting a little tired. I stay for another song; then leave the dance floor to the commons area. I take another cookie. I look around. Now there are a lot more people, but they look and sound a bit intimidating. It's too noisy. I panic, I pace-walk to the bathroom again. Even the bathroom is hopping!
I wait before calling. It’s too noisy, not ideal for phone calls. People here are having a good time. The bathroom is also a place of touching up here and there, adjusting dresses, exchanging small gossips. I know quite a few people there.
"Oh, we went to so-and-so a restaurant. Did you go anywhere?""Ooo, I love your hairdo! How do you do it?""Your dress is fabulous!""Thanks, yours is too."
The bathroom does clear itself in a couple of minutes, after all, the food and boys were outside. I call Mom. At least, she had 25 minutes of uninterrupted time! I'm ready to go home. She will be there in five minutes. A girl from my class overhears me. She waits patiently. I finish the call as quickly as possible; I hope I don't seem rude. She invites me to stay with her group. I am lucky I have good friends. I thank her, but decline in hopefully the most respectable way possible. Everything is great, but I am too tired. She smiles and says goodbye.
I go out to confront the commons area once again. It seems a little friendlier now. I grab one more brownie. Comfort food. I need it. I go upstairs. More people are still flooding in. Mom should be out in the parking lot by now. Once I leave, I cannot be readmitted. I am done anyways. The building is suffocating me.
Only outside in the nippy air, do I realize that it was hot inside. The dark night is an indication of how late it was. In the car, I collapse in the seat. It is also way past my normal bedtime. Mom and I visit the friend whose house Mom stayed at while waiting for me. Both Mom and her friend praise me for be so brave, they never went to prom. Maybe I am brave, but I can't see that while I am tired. Maybe tomorrow, I will see and be a little bit braver on the social battlefield for it.