I couldn’t believe I was finally old enough to attend my first church dance! I had waited months for this! I’d turned twelve in May, and the first dance after that happened to be a stake Halloween dance. I decided I’d go as a gypsy that year. My mom helped me to apply dark skin makeup, eyeshadow, and fake eyelashes. She loaned me long necklaces and bracelets and a colorful skirt that was perfect for my costume. I put on a scoop-necked white peasant blouse, and a black wig…
But when I stood in the mirror, something wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t that I was too blonde or fair to be a gypsy; we’d already fixed that with the dark makeup and wig. We stood there looking at me, when suddenly Mom snapped her fingers and left the room fast.
Soon she returned with one of her bras in hand. “Mo-oooom! No. Way. NO. I am NOT wearing that thing! It’s HUGE!“
“Just shut up and put it on.”
I did as she asked, and it took us considerable time to stuff that thing. When I turned and faced myself in the mirror, however, I could see that she’d been right! I looked just like a gypsy should look. I was so happy. It was like a dream…what twelve year old girl doesn’t imagine what she’d look like with boobs? Any girl who reads Judy Blume knows that once you get boobs, you have ARRIVED.
We made it to the church, and I entered the doors to a gym transformed. There were dark lights and scary decorations, with a disco ball hanging in the middle of the ceiling, throwing dots of light around the room in a dizzying swirl of motion. The music was already playing. I found my friend and had to tell her it was me because she didn’t even recognize me. This was her first dance too. We made our way to the table of cookies and punch, and filled our nervous hands. We found some chairs across the room and sat down with our punch, and talked about how neither of us knew how to dance, and how we hoped to God nobody asked us!
I was sitting there, sipping my punch, when suddenly I noticed a handsome guy across the room, looking right at me. I looked away really fast, and after a second or two, I nonchalantly let my gaze roam back to where he was…
Holy crap!! He was headed my way! He was halfway across the room walking in a straight line toward me, and I was so panicked I didn’t even think to stand up and run. My eyes were locked on his in what I’m certain now was a look of abject terror. He stood in front of me and smiled with all the charm and confidence of a college student (which he was) who knows he’s got it.
“May I have this dance?”
The blood roared in my ears so loud that I couldn’t even hear the music. If I hadn’t had so much makeup on, I’m sure I would have been beet red, if not purple. I said the only thing a girl who has no idea how to dance could say.
His smile got even broader and a dimple showed on his cheek. God, he was good-looking. He took a step toward me a little and said, “Seriously? Are you sure? Come on, it’ll be fun! Dance with me, please.” I shook my head no really fast. My mouth was so dry I couldn’t swallow anymore.
“Aw, come on! Don’t leave a guy hanging! Dance with me. Come on. You’ll like it! I promise I don’t bite.”
But there was no way I was risking making a fool of myself and revealing to this handsome paragon of manliness that I couldn’t dance.
“Come on, dance with me, please!” His arms were held out to the side like I was crucifying him by saying no. I was sure he had no clue I was only 12. I was 5’8″ and I looked gorgeous with all that makeup and all those curves. But I was too young and inexperienced. I was too scared. I had to say no.
“Are you sure? I’d really love to dance with you.” I assured him I was sure, and he smiled once more, kind of a grin from one side of his face, and told me he was bummed I hadn’t said yes. Then he walked away.
I watched him the rest of the night, wishing I had been brave enough to try it, just once, with him ~ wishing he’d come back and ask me again, so I could say yes and change the outcome of the memory of my first dance.