A Bleil Style Prom 12/9/19

A true story by Richard Bleil

Many years ago, I was a senior in high school (1980-1981). I was the invisible one. In a school with roughly 3,500 students (my class had over 850), I managed to make one good friend, a young man with whom I am still friends today. We hung out with about five people, a band of misfits and nobodies. And, no, never had a date or a girl even interested in me. I did have my crushes, like on the cheerleader with a twin sister. I had the biggest crush on her, and even tried to ask her out once but I think I overshot the mark. My father worked for a company that had a park for the employees with a public swimming pool, and as a family member, it was the coolest thing I had to offer to her, so I asked her if she wanted to go swimming sometime. She didn’t but, to this day, I don’t know if it was because it was me, or if she just assumed I wanted to see her in a bathing suit, which was not my goal at all but, let’s be fair, how could she have known that?

Our senior year, my friend started dating a young woman, a freshman in another nearby high school. And me? I started working in a department store café as a dishwasher back when department stores had cafés.

This was before Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year. As I was dating, I took to liking a waitress who was, well, a little bit older than I was. She also went to my high school, but when she was a senior, I was the freshman. Three years difference is maybe not so much, but when you’re 17/18, well, it’s rather more significant than when you’re, say, in your thirties. Between this young woman and my friend’s girlfriend, there were between six and eight years difference in age.

This will be significant later on.

So, I asked her out, and for some strange reason, she agreed. We actually started dating on a fairly regular basis, and in fact, I would say she was my girlfriend as unbelievable as that might seem considering my life. I didn’t know what to suggest, so I asked her to have supper with me, and even though we worked in a restaurant and were allowed to eat there, we decided to go out to a restaurant after it closed.

Everybody knew. Neither of us were eating that day.

And we went on our first date to the Brown Derby, back when there was a Brown Derby. We ended up back at her house, me, this high school (then seventeen-year-old) virgin and my older girlfriend. She was living with her parents who had, by the time we got to her house, were already in bed. She put on a record (yes, on a record player back before they became retro-popular) and turned the volume to a loud enough volume that I was concerned. “We don’t want them to hear what we’re doing, do we?” she responded. I didn’t understand until she “made her move”. To an outside observer, I’m sure it would have been quite comical to see, this rather voluptuous woman with a seventeen-year-old virgin saying, “no, no, no, I’m not that kind of boy!”

Yes, I’m a moron.

As we continued to date, there were a couple of odd things that I never really thought about. She fancied herself a poet, so I figured she was sensitive and attributed a lot of what happened to that. One day, she was rather late for our date. I called her home to find out where she was, and her mother informed me that she had left an hour earlier (when we were originally supposed to meet). She was very upset when I told her I had called after she arrived, and immediately brainstormed an excuse for later when they asked.

One day, driving out to our favorite spot on the lake (no, I never had physical relations with her beyond kissing), she was very quiet and seemed quite upset. It was a good half hour drive or more to the lake, and I was just trying to remain quiet figuring she would let me know what I did wrong when she was ready. As the miles rolled by, I couldn’t take it anymore. “Sweetheart?” I cautiously asked. “Is everything okay?” She replied, “I just don’t understand why people are so down on prostitutes. It seems to me that if they do their job with a little bit of class there’s nothing wrong with it!” Oh, thank God, I thought once I realized she wasn’t upset with me. I just assumed it was the poet in her again and never gave it a second thought (my readers, no doubt, are anticipating the plot twist, but I certainly didn’t).

Fast forward a month or two, and prom is coming up. I had been dating her, and my friend was dating his girlfriend, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly. He had asked his girlfriend to prom which, of course, she proudly accepted. We decided to go together, but I was savvy enough that I realized that, being older, it might have been, oh, uncomfortable for her to attend, but I decided to ask anyway. My friend knew I was going to ask the night that I called her.

So, I called her up, and asked. Her reply was very excited, very happy, and she enthusiastically agreed, but, then, paused. “But you need to know that I’m involved in an illegal activity, so if you want to withdraw your invitation, I would understand.” I asked her what it was, but she said she didn’t want me to know because she didn’t want me to be an “accomplice”. I asked if it was drugs, and she assured me that it was not.

And it hit me.

I was certain that she didn’t kill people for the mafia, and I doubt she was worried about me being an accomplice to speeding. I suddenly realized that she was, in fact, a prostitute. But I didn’t withdraw my offer and told her that I would still like to take her to prom. After all, I was a man of the ‘80’s, so, you know, I’m cool. So, we decided to go together.

I called my friend. “Did you ask?” he inquired. “Yeah, yeah I did,” I replied cooly. “Oh, I guess she said no?” “Actually, she agreed,” I responded. “Then why don’t you sound more excited.” “Well, there’s something that you should know about her.”

“Whatever it is, I don’t care,” he replied supportively. “As long as she makes you happy. You could tell me that she’s a prostitute, and I wouldn’t care.”

“Well, that’s good. Because she’s a prostitute.”

The silence on the phone was deafening. He couldn’t bring himself to say a word for what felt like days, when finally, he said, “Are you serious?” “Yep.” And I explained the sequence of events that lead me to this conclusion.

So, we still when together. The two dates (a fifteen-year-old virgin and a twenty-two-year-old prostitute) got along almost as well as gasoline and fire. My date kept dropping hints as subtle as a dump truck about spending the entire night at the lake together which, frankly, just wasn’t going to happen (if you’re wondering, I remained a virgin until after college) making for a not-so-fun evening.

And the true tragedy? My twin cheerleader was there without a date.

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