Dances were the one thing I dreaded. There were only a few of them, but the unwritten rule was that everyone had to go. I tried to get out of them, but Miss Samantha insisted along with my friends. The girls were excited for months in advance, wondering who was going to take them and what dress they were going to wear. Countless magazines were flipped through in order to find the perfect hair and dress, and to also get hints on things like “how to kiss.” I wanted some of those girls to kiss me, but did not participate in fantasizing the way they did in those conversations.
Since Brittany and I were both going to the dance, Miss Samantha suggested that I go shopping with Brittany and her mom to look for a dress. Brittany was excited to help me pick out my dress and shoes and everything that went with it. While we were trying on our outfits, she suggested that I come along with her and her friends to the dance. If we went together, afterward I could go to the party at her house. Miss Samantha thought that would be a wonderful idea and agreed. I really didn’t care, but they were so excited about it that I played along.
I didn’t anticipate that little decision would be a problem until I ran into Vanessa the next day. She thought that I would go to the dance with her since I was her friend. She was very upset and made me feel like I was somehow abandoning her. I didn’t know what the big deal was, but I knew somehow I had messed up her plans. I felt bad and wanted to please both girls, but I couldn’t go with both of them. I would have to hurt one girl’s feelings, and since I already promised, I decided to go with Brittany.
“Oh I see, she’s older and you want to hang with her instead of us.”
“No, Vanessa, my aunt is making us go together.”
I called her my aunt because it was just easier than explaining things.
“You could go to both parties if you wanted.”
“I can’t. I really can’t.”
“Well Tommy was going to go with Alice if you went with Ralph, and that meant that James would probably ask me out, but now it’s all screwed up.”
“No it’s not. He’ll probably ask you out.”
“No he won’t. I guess go to your stupid party with the older girls.”
I didn’t realize a stupid dance involved so much life or death drama. Vanessa stopped talking to me for the rest of that week. That really made me feel bad.
I went to the dance with some boy Brittany set me up with. It made my skin crawl to think about it, but when we got to the dance we went our separate ways. He was so busy impressing his friends that he didn’t even notice that I snuck off to be with the girls. At the table, we sat and talked for most of the night. I barely knew I even had a date, and afterward realized that the dance was fun.
After the dance, we all went to Brittany’s house for a party. Some of the kids were playing spin the bottle, but I avoided it, finding an excuse each time. Sick of my excuses, they grabbed me and made me spin. My heart felt sick, but luckily it landed on Brittany.
“It’s a girl, spin again.”
Luckily for me Brittany’s mom came down the stairs and the game ended.
“Who wants snacks?”
The boys seemed way more interested in the food than the game. They jumped up to gobble up the food she brought down. After the snacks interrupted the game, the party was split into little pockets of conversation. Some groups were mainly boys laughing loudly, and a few girls feigning interest, while others were made up of girls recapping the events of the night. Soon it was time for the boys to go, and Brittany’s mom ushered them out of the house. They honestly thanked her for her hospitality, and I think she was touched.
After they left, the girls got ready to spend the night. The girls seemed to relax a little bit, but I was a bit terrified as I looked at the same pole Brittany had tied me to the year before. I questioned her intentions for inviting me to her party.
She saw my gaze and said, “Don’t worry. I won’t tie you to the pole this time. I promise. In fact, why don’t I show you something nice?”
I was still hesitant to believe her as she led me to the laundry room and closed the door.
“You looked very nice in your dress tonight.”
“Thanks, so did you.”
She leaned in toward me and gave me a little kiss. I was shocked that after all that time with her date, she was in the laundry room kissing me in my little, white nightgown. I didn’t know how to feel at first because I had so many feelings associated with this girl: fear, anger, attraction, curiosity. Her kisses started as gentle pecks, but eventually they started to get deeper, and it felt good. I noticed how her body looked in her nightgown, and I realized that Brittany was pretty too. We kissed for a good five minutes until her friends started calling her name looking for her. Annoyed, we came out of the laundry room and she said, “Can’t I have a few minutes alone with my cousin to talk about boys!”
That night, after all the lights were off, in the cloak of darkness, she rolled next to me in my sleeping bag and kissed me some more. I put my hand upon her hip.