My traumatic prom experience

Don’t even ask me what even brought me to this topic today. For some reason, I heard the word “prom” at some point in the last few hours, and it made me think of the one time in my life where I asked a girl to prom.

Asking a girl to prom is like asking a girl to marry you. It’s something you only want to do once in your life. However, in my case, I only asked once, and it was a disaster.

Again, this is completely out of the blue, if anything I should be discussing Passover and Easter, since they are just about upon us. But, if you ask me, Passover and Easter are lame excuses for families to get together. A lot of my friends are all busy this weekend because of these holidays, but come on, what middle-aged 20-year-old actually genuinely cares about celebrating Passover and Easter?

I swear, when you age, and start to drift apart from your families, arranging times to see them is like arranging a divorce settlement. “Alright mom, you can have Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, every other Memorial Day, and the occasional President’s Day. Otherwise I don’t want to see you.”

But anyway, so I was thinking about prom earlier, and whenever that happens, I think about one of the most hurtful “no’s” I’ve ever received. It was so demoralizing that I don’t even think I’ve shared this story with anyone since it happened — and this was almost seven years ago.

There’s probably no more traumatic experience for a man in his life than asking a girl to prom. At least when you’re asking a girl to marry you, you know that she loves you. But when you’re asking a girl to prom, it’s really just a crapshoot. And when you’re 17-years-old, it is just too much to ask. There should be some lottery that decides who goes with who for prom just to save humiliation for us guys.

I remember it clearly. Whereas girls think about their prom from day one of senior year — in fact, they’ve probably already been to at least one already as a younger student –, but guys, they ignore its existence until maybe one month before. I was kind of just hoping that a hot girl would materialize next to me while I was at prom.

Another problem for me? During my senior year of high school, I lost all regard for my health, and I gained an extravagant amount of weight. I became chubby, and by the end of the year, I definitely qualified as overweight. Just in time to ask a girl to prom. So you can imagine how self-conscious I was about the whole thing.

But I actually knew who I wanted to ask. There was a girl in my grade who I never really knew, but during my senior year, I had a couple of classes with her. She was one of those girls who was extremely pretty but she just didn’t know it. She was incredibly shy, barely spoke in class, and as a result, nobody really knew who she was. Oh and she was also very smart and very nice. My mom would have loved her.

So, like I said, I had a couple of classes with her. Since I had a pretty outgoing personality, I befriended her throughout the year, and I learned that she was actually a very down-to-earth and cool person. I talked to her almost every day throughout the year.

As June drew nearer, I knew it was become time to act. Although I never outwardly acknowledged (or told anyone) that I wanted to ask this girl to prom, I knew deep down that she was the one. And there’s nothing more embarrassing than going to prom alone. I’d rather not go at all.

Finally, about two weeks before prom, I told my friend that I wanted to ask her. I think it was my subconscious way of hoping that by telling him, it would somehow get back to her, since I was too cowardly to ask her myself. From what I knew, she had yet to find a date.

A couple of days later, that same friend approaches me, and said that he had heard through another friend that the girl has actually sold back her prom ticket. According to my friend, he believed she did it because she couldn’t find a date. So, he said, I had to ask now or it would be too late. I hated his advice, but I knew he was probably right.

I decided that I would ask her the next day. I said to myself, “Just ask, and if she says yes, then great, and if she says no, then at least it’s over with. Either way, it’ll finally be over and you’ll be happy.”

I decided I would ask her during 2nd period, since it was my first class with her. It was usually a class where we worked independently, and therefore, people would be doing their work and chatting and I would be able to ask her without anybody noticing. Because, as I said earlier, she was really shy and I knew she wouldn’t like it if I made a scene.

That entire 1st period, I didn’t listen to anything the teacher said. I stared at the chalkboard for 45 straight minutes, my stomach hurt, and my hands sweat. It was like I was minutes away from the electric chair. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that type of anxiety again ever since that 45-minute long first period. But, after what felt like two hours, it ended.

As I predicted, 2nd period consisted of everybody doing their own work, and fluttering around the classroom talking amongst themselves. It was perfect. And to top things off, this girl was sitting completely alone on one side of the room. Again, it was now or never.

Like an idiot, I sat down right next to her and didn’t say anything to her. In fact, I sat there for about fifteen minutes and didn’t say a word. But finally, I manned up, and I looked at her, said her name to get her attention, and just muttered through an extremely red face, “Do you want to go to prom with me?”

She turned red, and her response was, “I’m not going to the prom.”

Again, like an idiot, I didn’t know how to react, and simply said, “I have an extra ticket.”

She repeated, “Sorry, I’m not going.”

I believe I said, “Okay, if you change your mind… let me know,” and walked away.

Like I said to myself earlier, the experience was over. I could put it behind me and be happy again.

Except, I wasn’t. I had an extremely hollow feeling for the rest of the day, and I realized that I was genuinely disappointed that she told me no. I really wanted to go with her.

Naturally, I was so embarrassed that I didn’t speak to her for the final month of the school year. I just couldn’t face her. And I’ve never seen her since then. But, in her defense, she really did not go to prom. So I can be slightly eased by the fact that she didn’t lie to me.

No I didn’t end up going to prom alone. My friend set me up with a sophomore that he knew, and actually, she was extremely pretty. However, regardless of how pretty she was, I would have much preferred to go with the original girl who I wanted to go with all along.

Even now, seven years later, I think about that day. I get angry at myself for letting myself become overweight during my senior year. Perhaps things would have been differently if I was thinner. And now that I think about it, she was probably the first girl in my life who I ever had genuine feelings for. She will forever be “the one who got away.”

And, present day, since I have long been in pretty good shape, have a stable job and a quality haircut, I almost wish I could run into her again. I hold no ill will against her. She was a nice person, and I will never forget that. But I think it would be funny if I saw her. It’s been so long that I think I can finally joke about the situation, and possibly even guilt-trip her about saying no to me.

I may have come to terms with it, but I still remember the feeling of dejection, and how it felt to have the word “no” said to you, after you’ve spent hours upon hours envisioning it differently in your head. Honestly, it sounds weak, but it’s something that most girls never have to experience, and you don’t realize how traumatic it could be when you are a teenager and you build up all of your courage towards something… only for it to fall flat on its face.

I’m still not quite sure why I never told that story. I guess it’s because I was embarrassed for so long that I got rejected by a girl to prom, and then when I finally came to terms with it, I just forgot about it. Until tonight.

But maybe my story could help others. Don’t wait until the last second to ask a girl to prom, don’t let yourself get fat, and actually brace yourself for the fact that just because you built up the courage to ask, doesn’t mean that she is actually going to say yes. It’s a good life experience.

As I said earlier, you only hope to do these things once in life: Asking a girl to prom, and asking a girl to marry you.

Hopefully I’ll have better luck with question two.

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