Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Monday, December 5, 2016

I Fooled Around And Fell In Love (The Blunder Years – Part 3B)

You should read part 1 “You Know I Won’t Dance” - before reading this one.

Part 1 Summary – Don does not want to go to his senior prom in 1976, however the senior girls are pressuring him to ask Rhonda.  Don does not want to take Rhonda, so he decides to ask Sarah, a beauty queen, instead.

"Ah, but since I met you baby, love's got a hold on me
I fooled around and fell in love"*

Asking Sarah Edwards to the prom is one of the craziest decisions I have ever made, but I was desperate and not thinking clearly.  I my mind, my plan had little chance for success, but it was the equivalent of a “Hail Mary” football pass. If it was successful, my Rhonda problem goes away. If it falls incomplete, at least I knew I tried to do something. And when I’m standing at the altar, and Rhonda starts walking down the aisle, I will be thinking “If only Sarah Edwards would have gone to the prom with me, I wouldn’t be in this mess.  This is all Sarah’s fault, not mine.”

Monday, after the newspaper staff meeting, I followed Sarah to her locker.  I was mildly nervous, but I fully expected to be rejected, it was just a matter of how and when.  I envisioned she would first be a bit startled when I approached her, then slightly amused after I issued the invitation. She would then say she wanted to check her schedule, and would decline my offer on Tuesday.  I wasn’t concerned if the rejection became public knowledge. It would not be embarrassing to be turned down by Sarah Edwards. The worst-case scenario would be if she laughed in my face, “You silly boy!  Go ask Rhonda like you’re supposed to and leave me alone.”  I hoped she was too classy to do that.

I acted like I was a worthy suitor and approached her confidently.  I looked into her eyes with my best “Oh baby, you know you want it look” and delivered the invitation flawlessly, without any hint of fear.

I knew something was amiss almost immediately, she smiled subtlety at me and was highly amused, even pleased, at my request. I studied her face intently for her next response.

Then her large, gorgeous, blue eyes widened.

(My pulse quickens)

Her luscious lips turn from a grin to a full smile

(My adrenaline starts to flow like a raging river)

“Sure, it would great to go with you!”, Sarah gushed.

(Of course, I act as if that was the answer I had expected)

“That’s wonderful! “We will discuss the details later”, I exclaim, as I flash my signature big, fake, smile.

I turn quickly to leave, not only because of what just happened, but because my next class was one floor up, on the opposite end of the building. I take two steps and then I fully comprehend what just happened. The left side of my brain screams out to the right:


At this realization, I become literally weak in the knees (this has only happened a couple times in my entire life).  Now it would be a travesty to collapse in the hall right after such a manly display of bravado. Somehow, I am able to take five more steps, with no feeling in my knees and duck around the corner to the left of the stairwell, an area which is not visible from the hallway.

I lean hard against the brick wall for support and start to hyperventilate.  I wait a few moments for the feeling to return to my knees and my breathing to recover. Then I rush to my class. 

I had never mentally prepared for an immediate, enthusiastic, positive, acceptance.  Two weeks ago I was dead set against even going to the prom, now I was taking Sarah Edwards, go freakin’ figure.

Most guys who scored this coup would have would have immediately announced it to everyone they encountered it the school. “Who has two thumbs and is taking Sarah Evans to the Prom? This Guy!”  “Oh yeah Tom, I guess taking a cheerleader to the prom is kind of nice. I’m happen to be taking a beauty queen.” 

But I react to this unexpected situation like a jewel thief who had pulled off the heist of the century.  The only person told I ever told about my prom date without being asked about it first, was my mother, and that was only because I needed cash to pay for everything.

By the next morning, the rumor was spreading like wildfire throughout the school.  At least Sarah had told her friends, I was worried she might keep it secret also.  And it was only a rumor at that point, because of course, few people actually believed it.

I spent the entire day confirming the news. The girls would say, “I heard you are taking Sarah Edward to the prom” (meaning “is it true?). I would answer. They would say “that’s great” and then smile.  And all this sudden female attention was great, really great.

Now the guys would approach me with an expression of skepticism and bluntly ask, “Are you taking Sarah Edwards to the prom?” When I said “yes”, they would say “Wow!” (with an expression on their face that said: “I didn’t know you had the balls to do that!”)

 Yes, suddenly I was a stud muffin, a big man on campus, and I had the balls. (With apologies to Dr. Seuss) “And what happened then? Well, at Kenmore they say, that Don’s small balls grew three sizes that day." 

Strangely, I was enjoying my new notoriety. People were showing more interest in me and giving me more respect.  I now started to strut down the halls with a new manly gait, although with my hips set wider to make room for my bigger, well, you get the idea.

My strategy for prom night was simple: Don’t do anything to screw things up. Make no mistakes. 

Remember, I never wanted to go to prom in the first place.  Taking Sarah Edwards made things much more interesting, but not that much more
enjoyable.  I commandeered my father’s Ford Galaxy 500 for the evening, the closest thing I had to a limo, and hoped I could keep my composure in a pressure situation.

My fortitude was tested as soon as I picked Sarah up.  She was wearing a light-blue, stretchy, clingy, dress that held tightly to every beautiful curve of her body.  There was nothing at all immodest about it, but that body poured into that dress, oh my. Oh, my, my, my! (Excuse me, I still get the vapors thinking about it).  And she was even more imposing in her high heels, which she could wear, because her date (that would be me) was so tall. 

When we walked into the hall, it was like making a grand entrance.  The noise level literally dropped as people stared.  I relished this, even though  all the attention was focused on the eye-candy on my arm.  It didn’t matter how much the other girls spent on their dresses or how much they had primped, no one looked as good as Sarah that night. I felt as if I should be wearing white gloves, like the guy in charge of escorting the Stanley Cup.

The evening went well.  I did not make any big mistakes.  I was standing by the punch bowl when they sloshed in a large refill.  Not the place to be when wearing a white jacket.  I didn’t make a fool of myself of the dance floor and I even let a couple guys have dances with Sarah, which just added to my stature. “You want to dance with my date, fine. No, sorry, I really don’t want to dance with yours”.  

I only made one request of Sarah the entire night. It was announced that   professional photographs of couples could be purchased for $25.  Oh, I wanted a photo of this. I wanted it more than I have ever wanted a photo in my life. (Okay I have to say at this point that I really wanted my wedding photos more, but you be the judge) At that moment, I couldn’t even speak to ask her. I just stared in her direction with the best “begging” face I had.  She turned to me and asked, “Do you want a photo?”  I nodded affirmatively several times.  I do have a huge smile on my face in the picture, and let me assure you, there was nothing fake about it. It was the best $25 I have ever spent in my life.

I was really feeling special by the end of the evening and surprised myself by actually enjoying the prom.  I took Sarah home and received an obligatory “friend kiss”.  Very slight lip contact, there’s been more passion when kissing my cousins.  Ah, wait, that came out wrong.  Hey, I live in Ohio, Northern Ohio!  Well, just forget it.

In the days after prom, I couldn’t stop thinking about Sarah Edwards. Being with Sarah Edwards had made me popular.  Sarah Edwards went to the prom with me.  I liked having Sarah Edwards on my arm. I looked very manly when I was with Sarah Edwards.  Sarah Edwards is stunningly beautiful and nice and tall and a redhead and, and, and (well ladies you know what happens next, you guys not so much).

Yes, I fell in love with Sarah Edwards.  As irrational as it was for me to ask her to the prom, it was even more irrational for me to fall in love with her.  Of course, falling in love with anyone is not rational.  If it were, the human race would have ended a long time ago.

In actuality, I didn’t really fall in love with the person of Sarah,  just the image of Sarah.  We had nothing in common, I mean she didn’t even like football, for Pete’s sake. This was a poor match, but when you are 18, your emotions (and hormones) can spin out of control like a hurricane.

A few days I saw Sarah at a school-sponsored, senior class party. I swaggered up to her exuding an attitude that said, “Hey Baby, remember me? We had those magical moments at the prom”.  But Sarah treated me like a, like a, friend, a mere acquaintance.  How could she?  I was crushed.  My true love, my soul mate, was spurning me and moving to Puerto Rico, where I might never see her again.

Lest you think those emotions were not real, it took me about two weeks to recover, hormones and teen emotions being what they are.  I did manage to get her a print of photo before she left. And then she moved to Puerto Rico, with her splendid blue dress, and I never heard from her ever again.

Now if you are keeping score, and I hope you’re not, my first love moved to Middle-of Nowhere, Wyoming after our relationship ended and my prom date moved all the way to Puerto Rico.  At least neither of them became a nun.

One More Prom Story

Eight years after the prom, Bob (yes, that Bob, who was mentioned 22 times in my book, and who often causes me problems) and his wife Diane, had paid a social visit to our recently purchased first home.   At some point, the conversation turned to our high school days, Bob and I graduated in the same class, Diane attended the same school, a couple years behind us. My wife (who is not Rhonda) attended a different school. I have no idea how the subject of senior prom ever came up.

Bob: (to me) Did you go the senior prom?

Me: Yes, I did

Bob: You did?  Who did you take?

Me: Sarah Edwards

Bob: (with a scornful look of disbelief) You did not take Sarah Edwards to the prom!

Me: Yes, I did

Diane: (laughing – I told you it was laughable) You, most certainly did not ever take Sarah Edwards to the prom!

I know it was silly to argue about something that happened eight years prior and at first I didn’t care if they believed me or not.  But now I had a woman laughing at me and my wife was wondering why I was lying about my prom date and upsetting our guests. 

I excused myself and quickly found the prom photo (easy to locate because we had just recently moved) and triumphantly presented it to Bob and Diane.  Literal stunned silence.  Bob looks up at me with that same look of admiration that the guys gave me eight years ago.  Finally, he gasps out a comment, “Yeah, that’s Sarah Edwards”. Diane just stares down at the photo in total disbelief.

Bob hands me back the photo and of course my wife wants to see it.  I give it to her, but I fail to see her reaction because I am too focused on gloating over proving that I did indeed take a beauty queen to the prom.  We all talked for a while longer and then Bob and Diane left.

Now my wife is not the jealous type.  She has only expressed jealousy a few times during our many years together and on most of these occasions, believe it or not, I have been totally innocent.  But when she gets jealous, she expresses her displeasure in a very passionate way, very passionate, as a tornado is passionate.  I don’t know if it was because I found the photo so quickly. I don’t know if it was the awesomeness of Sarah Edwards in that tight blue dress. I don’t know if it was my huge, intense smile in the photo.  But Bob and Diane weren’t out of my driveway when my wife expressed her intense reaction to that photograph.  Thanks, Bob.  Thanks so much for bringing this up, you stupid sunavabitch.

Now I know you all really want to see that photo of me and especially Sarah Edwards, poured into that clingy blue dress. But that photo is now buried somewhere deep in the attic and I would need my wife’s help to locate it.  So, you are not going to see that photo and I am going to continue to live.

(This concludes the Blunder Years)

*Elvin Bishop

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