The 8th Grade Dance Story
For some of you, this is a classic. For others, it's brand new. For everyone, it's a reminder that sometimes, life really does work out like in the movies. But most of all, it's completely and 100% true.
In 8th grade, I was not exactly the most popular kid in the school. Actually, as Cam likes to remind me, my only friend was the kid who chewed the plastic off the scissors. Even CAM was too popular for me then, and when that happens you know something must be wrong. Haha. I love you, Cammy.
Anyway, despite the fact that I was a social bottom-feeder, I had something that I now lack - perseverance. I say that because it's the only reason I can possibly come up with for why I decided to go to the 8th grade Valentine's Day Dance. Alone.
So I spiffed myself up in my nicest Aussie T and jeans, thereby achieving the absolute zenith of preteen fashion, and got Mummers to give me a ride over to the Boys' and Girls' Club. I walked in, scoped out the gym/dance floor (self-segregated, of course, with boys and girls on opposite walls). Not much was doing there, so I went upstairs to the game room and started hanging out with some girls who were accessibly anti-social (9th graders at an 8th grade dance, so I figured they had to be just as bad at this clique crap as I was).
We were playing pool - or I was watching them play pool, or something - when this kid I knew came bounding up from the dance floor. He came over to me and started talking, which made me very confused because he was Not In My League. But I listened anyway.
"Allison! There you are. Listen, I have to talk to you. I have this friend, and he's downstairs, and he's been wanting to dance with you all night but he's too shy to ask. You have to come with me."
The internal alarm bells didn't go off (stupid alarm bells), so I followed him downstairs to the gym, and...ok. You know those horrible, terribly-written teenage chick flicks? You know how, in all of those chick flicks, whenever the Protagonist Girlie enters the room, there's this aisle of kids flanking her? It's what I affectionately refer to as the Gauntlet.
This was exactly like that.
People who would never have talked to me in school were encouraging me, patting me on the back, telling me how much this kid had liked me since forever. It was like I had done nothing but was suddenly sucked into this frightening vortex of popularity. I was surprised, and maybe a little suspicious, but happy (because it's very hard to be a socially-bottom-feeding 13 year old and not do everything you can to drag yourself up).
We got out onto the middle of the dance floor, where a big circle had opened up. I was standing in the middle of it, alone, with the Gauntlet kids watching. I started to get more nervous...and more...and then I saw the kid. This was probably the most popular guy in 8th grade, not bad looking - and the largest and most obnoxious jerk in the school. "Wow," I remember thinking, "I guess all that stuff they say about boys teasing you because they like you really is true."
He walked towards me with his arms out, like he was going to take me by the waist to slow dance. He got closer - and closer - and then, when he was about three feet away, he stopped and got this look on his face. "Wait, it's you," he said. "Oh, sorry, I was looking for somebody pretty." Then he turned around and walked away.
The entire gym can't have started laughing, but that sure is what it seemed like. I, of course, started crying and ran into the locker room, where I stayed for an hour before calling for my ride back. For the rest of the night, I watched the Valentine's edition of Boy Meets World and drowned myself in tears of humiliation. Which is, come to think of it, pretty much what I've done for every Valentine's Day since. Here's to setting a precedent!
See? Teen movies really ARE based on life, no matter how crazily out-of-whack they may seem. And now you have all heard the best life story I have to tell. I hope you enjoyed it.