Iowa Writes

REBECCA KAPLAN
Excerpt from "A Chronology of High School Dances"


     As she drove me to school, my mother asked, "Are there any boys you would consider asking to the dance?"
     I glanced out the window. "Just Tom."
     "You can't."
     "Just because he plays the viola and skips and uses phrases like 'blasty blast' doesn't mean he's gay."
     "I'm telling you he's gay, and he won't go to the dance with you because of it. Is there anyone else?"
     "There's this kid in my French class, Rick. We're friends."
     "Ask him."
      "No."
     "If you don't ask him, you can't come home."
     Terrified to ask Rick to Turnabout, I devoted my energy to concocting the perfect proposal, which resembled something like: "Hey, Rick, I know we only met this year and hardly speak to each other outside of French, but I'm impressed you want to play the guitar...for a living, so let's go to Turnabout."
     Instead, when I saw him by my locker that afternoon, I pulled him from the hall with: "Rick, hi. Let's go to Turnabout."
     "Okay." He smiled, hands in his pockets, and left.
     That wasn't horrible, I thought on the bus ride home.
     The night of the dance, my parents let Rick and his mother into our home. I emerged from the bedroom in a red dress and black heels, and Rick and I stood for pictures. After pinning the boutonniere to his lapel and donning my corsage, his mother drove us to the dance.
     "Excited for tonight?" the woman asked, tagging our jackets.
     Rick smiled and nodded.
     His silence unsettled me.

     As she drove me to school, my mother asked, "Are there any boys you would consider asking to the dance?"
     I glanced out the window. "Just Tom."
     "You can't."
     "Just because he plays the viola and skips and uses phrases like 'blasty blast' doesn't mean he's gay."
     "I'm telling you he's gay, and he won't go to the dance with you because of it. Is there anyone else?"
     "There's this kid in my French class, Rick. We're friends."
     "Ask him."
      "No."
     "If you don't ask him, you can't come home."
     Terrified to ask Rick to Turnabout, I devoted my energy to concocting the perfect proposal, which resembled something like: "Hey, Rick, I know we only met this year and hardly speak to each other outside of French, but I'm impressed you want to play the guitar...for a living, so let's go to Turnabout."
     Instead, when I saw him by my locker that afternoon, I pulled him from the hall with: "Rick, hi. Let's go to Turnabout."
     "Okay." He smiled, hands in his pockets, and left.
     That wasn't horrible, I thought on the bus ride home.
     The night of the dance, my parents let Rick and his mother into our home. I emerged from the bedroom in a red dress and black heels, and Rick and I stood for pictures. After pinning the boutonniere to his lapel and donning my corsage, his mother drove us to the dance.
     "Excited for tonight?" the woman asked, tagging our jackets.
     Rick smiled and nodded.
     His silence unsettled me.
     We proceeded to the commons-turned dance floor, where strobe lights shone upon our classmates and music shook the floor. I gazed with starry-eyed, freshman wonder, but turned to speak to Rick and found him in the corner. He spoke with his swarthy, moustache-growing friend, and I approached them, asking Rick, "Hey, what are you doing? Let's dance."
     He looked at his friend and we joined the crowd. I found a few acquaintances from class and danced with them, glancing at Rick as he stood, hands in pockets.
     "The closer we get to the center," I said, pulling him forward, "The greater the mosh pit mentality." He frowned. "What's wrong? Are you feeling okay?"
     "I just don't like crowds."
     "You look kind of sick. Do you want to sit down?"
     "Yeah." We left the crowd and entered the hallway by coat check. "Can we go?"
     "Are you sure? We just got here."
     "I don't feel well."
     We picked up our coats, and as we waited for Rick's mother, he listed his psychological disorders, dysfunctions and a history of mental problems, including the "inability to say no".
     "So you only agreed to go with me because I asked you?" I leaned against the wall. He nodded. "Rick, you could have said no."
     After a long, silent ride home, almost stepping in a pile of dog crap, I entered my living room. I climbed the stairs to my room, shed my heels, tights and dress, and collapsed into bed.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


REBECCA KAPLAN

Rebecca Kaplan draws, writes and majors in creative writing and pre-law. A university blogger, active reader, opera enthusiast and writer, she daily indulges in the fine arts through internet-streamed plays, readings and classical music and webcomics.

This page was first displayed
on July 20, 2011

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