just sat there, moping.


it was freshman year, and i was all excited for the first dance. i hadn't been to one before, so i was thrilled by the idea of meeting new people and having a good time. i was fourteen, and i didn't know much better. i was at jason's house that night, and we were getting ready for it. i had on a pair of khaki cargo pants and a new blue mossimo polo shirt that zipped up to the collar. i sprayed some ck-one on me, and jason said to put some on my neck.

"this is gonna be awesome," i said, looking at myself in the mirror. i had acne, but i was so thrilled that it didn't even matter. "it's not gonna be that good," jason said. "people are probably gonna be like, 'hey, look at that fat kid, and look at that tall kid.'" i laughed, and then i hoped what he said wouldn't be the case. i put on my new suede airwalk skater shoes, and i felt like a million bucks.

jason's dad drove us to the gym, where the dance was held. he was a big chinese dude. he didn't say much, but when he did speak, it felt like he was trying to be some american dad straight out of the movies. "so, are you guys gonna meet some girls tonight?" "that's the plan," i said. i don't think jason said much of anything, either. we listened to the radio, and i was feeling nervous and excited all at once.

we got to the gym, and there was a line out the door. i saw a handful of my classmates, and they were with girls i had never seen before. i wondered if any of the girls from my elementary school were going to be there, but i didn't see any of them. none of my friends were going to be there, either. days before, i had asked if any of them were going to go. "hell no," they said, unanimously. i couldn't see why they were so opposed to it.

the dance cost about $5 or so to get in. i paid the fee, and received a small orange ticket in return. the gym was dark, but there were glowing lights flashing all around. there were some tables and chairs set up where the basketball court was supposed to be. everyone else had congregated onto the dance floor, which was adjacent to the court. it wasn't how i imagined a dance at all. it wasn't how they pictured it in the movies and on television. they were supposed to be dancing on the court, not off to the side.

jason and i went with some other guys to the dance floor. it was goddamn ridiculous was what it was. this filipino kid named joey led the way. he started coughing loudly, screaming, "i have meningococcal!" he was trying to be funny, because just weeks prior to the dance, a freshman girl at loretto had died from the disease. we made our way through the crowd, and it was unpleasant. it reeked of body odor, and it was nearly impossible to move. i wasn't having a good time.

i decided i'd sit down for a while. a while turned into an hour. the hour turned into the rest of the night. i watched the clock and waited for 10 p.m. to roll around because that's when students were allowed to leave. "why don't you go dance?" jason asked. "it's too stupid," i said bitterly. i started feeling depressed, faced again with another one of life's disappointments. i sat there, brooding. this is how it was gonna be, huh? life was just going to be about getting my hopes up, and then seeing them crushed.

the next day, my classmate, alex, instant messaged me. jason said you just sat there, moping, he typed. i told him that it would be the last time i would go to a stupid dance.

but that wasn't true.

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