If one is good, then two must be great, he said laughingly. I smiled and nodded in agreement. But later, when thinking about it, I began to have my misgivings and in fact concluded that I could think of several exceptions to that rule.
My mind went back to when, as a boy of seventeen (yes, I was seventeen once) I was facing the impending crisis confronted by every high school boy with two left feet, the Senior Prom. More specifically, although I frequently talked about girls, I seldom if ever actually talked to one. Now, I was going to have to ask one to a dance.
After considering my options, I narrowed them down to a couple of safe choices. By that I mean girls whose laughter would not reverberate throughout the halls of the school upon my invitation. My town, like many, was subtlety divided into white collar and blue collar neighborhoods. Most of the football players came from the blue collar neighborhoods, but virtually all of the cheerleaders came from white collar homes, or the “West Side” as it was known. My only exposure to the West Side was through having a paper route there once, but that’s another story. Bottom line was, I didn’t have a prayer of asking a girl from “over there”.
So after school one day, I sought out a girl named Beverly and, after sucking up every bit of courage I had, asked her if she would go to the prom with me. The good news is, she didn’t say no. The bad news is, she didn’t say yes either, but instead said something like “I’ll let you know”. You see, Beverly had a thing for a guy named Bill and was kind of holding out for an invitation from him. I didn’t know that at the time, but felt relieved that I had, at least, an absolute maybe.
I didn’t hear from Beverly for a few days and was beginning to get nervous. While walking home from school one day with my friend Jimmy and his girlfriend Sandy, I confided my plight. Sandy said “my girlfriend Judy from Medford would go with you. I showed her your picture and she thinks you’re cute”. At that moment, the skies opened up and I experienced “mana”, the thing of which magic is made. I had seen her picture too, and Judy was a fox. So after some urging, I called her and asked her to the prom and she promptly accepted. Oh yeah, life was good. Not only did I have a date for the prom, but it was a girl I really wanted to take.
The next day, after classes, I looked for Beverly to tell her that since I had not heard from her, I had asked another girl to the prom. Not being able to find her, I stopped one of her friends and asked if she had seen her. She said “She left early today to go into Boston to buy her gown. She said you were taking her to the prom”. Again the skies opened up, but this time I felt nothing but an overwhelming sense of panic. Oh no. This can’t be happening. I’m dead meat.
When I went home that afternoon, I told my father what had happened. Up until now, all the decisions had been made by me exclusive of any parental intervention. Therefore, he was unaware of the “triangle” I had created. He asked “what are you going to do”? Way to go dad. I was waiting for you to tell me that. I said “I really want to go with Judy”. He said “Then you should have asked her first”. And there it was. Without saying it, he had told me what I had to do.
After much foot shuffling and excuses to delay the inevitable, I finally called Judy to tell her I wouldn’t be able to take her to the prom. The result was predictable. She started crying and told me she already had her gown and what she thought of me, among other things we need not go into here. I don’t know which of us was more devastated. She had been stood up for the prom, and I had lost a perspective girlfriend. Not to mention I could probably never go to Medford again either.
So there it is. Two is not always better then one. It was a lesson hard learned, but one not easily forgotten. In fact, to this day, before I consider a second anything (except beer or jelly doughnuts) I think long and hard, weighing my options and analyzing my alternatives before making a decision. Then, I usually do it anyway. Go figure.
From the archives 2013