I didn’t get asked to my junior prom in High School. Not really shocking when you evaluate my potential as a prom date: skinny, unruly hair, pants that ended about 2 inches shy of any socially acceptable length (“Hey Shattuck, where’s the flood??).
But I hoped. Man, did I hope.
I scanned the boys in math class, trying my hardest to emit a faint “I’ll say yes if you ask” vibe. Miserable attempts at furtive glances were met with “Do you need a pencil?” It was wildly unsuccessful.
Senior year I dated a boy that I fully expected to ask me to prom. We didn’t so much date, though. His best friend was my best friend’s boyfriend so he was sort of expected to be the double date guy. I think we went on a few solos and he was nice enough in a ridiculously boring sort of way. But being woefully inexperienced in the matters of romance was like a cocoon of ignorance, so I carried on like I had a real live boyfriend.
Until prom time.
He agreed to go. I bought the tickets. I drove. I actually asked if he was going to give me one of those cutesy little wrist flower things. It was awful. About halfway through prom I realized what a colossal mistake I had made: the dance is only fun if you go with someone that WANTS to go with you.
I hastily dropped him off at his house . . . awkward no-kiss moment . . . and then went to the after party with my friends and had a blast.
Fast forward, ahem, a number of years (it might be 30, I’m not saying) and I have this great horse: gobs of natural talent, suspension for miles, knees that spring to his chin when he jumps . . . and he doesn’t want to be at the dance.
He wants to be the no-commitment double date guy.
So, like the fateful prom in 1984, I’m freeing him from his obligation. He will be absolutely stunning as a double date guy – 1st level dressage, Hunters, basically anything besides jumping XC and the increasing demands of collected work.
It’s like being at the dance with the best looking guy in the room and all he wants to do is watch football. Sure, I could make him dance. I could get angry or sullen and slap his face until he agreed to dance, but then I would just be dancing with a resentful, bitter partner looking for a way out.
It doesn’t matter that I bought the tickets. It doesn’t matter that I spent a small fortune on the dress. It doesn’t even matter that I got my hair done special and washed the car so we’d look perfect pulling up together. It only matters whether or not we both want to be there.
Otie wants to stay home, cuddle on the couch, and watch TV. I want to go to the dance. Maybe someday cuddling on the couch will be enough, and maybe someday the dance will sound intriguing. But, today . . .no.
I love him enough to find him someone that has microwave popcorn and Netflix. Perhaps one day we’ll see each other at the grocery store. He’ll show me pictures of his perfect happy family, and I’ll show him pictures of my favorite dance - sailing over the big jumps XC.
He’ll smile. I’ll smile. And we’ll know it was right for both of us.