You’re in high school, and it’s Prom Night. Every girl is dressed like Miss Universe, and every boy is dressed like a waiter in some high-class version of McDonald’s. You smell magic in the air: it smells like Maybelline New York and Jōvan Musk. You can make out the faint smell of mothballs from the girls’ tables. The guy in front of you forgot to take off the tag from his crisp shirt bought from the Van Heusen outlet at SM.
Tonight’s the night! Weeks of practicing the waltz has led to this one night, where you’d finally take the girl you’re crushing on to the dance floor. For months, you have longed to sit beside her in class, to admire her perfect penmanship, to take a whiff of her scent that makes you want to go to sleep forever. Sometimes, she asks for your help for a class assignment, and you stammer your way around the rules of subject-verb agreement. You can’t even talk to her outside of those topics, but you treasure them, guarding those moments like they were the Holy Grail.
You call her your “inspiration,” but vehemently deny having romantic feelings for her whenever your friends tease you over a game of DoTA. “Hinahangaan ko lang naman,” you say in irritation. But deep in your heart, it’s more than just “admiration.”
Face it, kid, you’re in love.
You scan the girls’ tables and look for your “inspiration.” Ah, there she is, seated with her friends on the far left, just by the window. The apple of your eye, the meaning of your life, the Rita Hayworth to your Gene Kelly… or maybe the Rita Avila to your Andrew E. Just what are they giggling about? Just what are they talking about? Could you muster up the courage to dance with her for 30 seconds, perhaps invite her for coffee afterwards?
I can’t say I blame you, lad: she’s beautiful. She’s fair-skinned, has long flowing hair. Her eyes are quite attractive, too. Hah, even that’s not enough for you. Her skin is as pure as the first cloud of a bright summer morning. Her hair is like a cascading waterfall, shining with a light that comes from within. Her eyes are like sparkling stars torn from the very fabric of the universe. Her lips are like rubies from a Queen’s crown. She is, to you, the personification of love itself.
She reaches into her bag for a handkerchief. Those long-forgotten Shakespeare lectures in English class suddenly rush to your head. Oh, were you that kerchief upon her hand, that you may touch that cheek!
One song passes. Two songs pass. Three, four… and the disk jockey has gone through an entire CD of romantic songs, from Frank Sinatra to David Pomeranz to Edwin McCain. What are you doing, boy! Get up! Ask her to dance! No, you sit there drinking your bottled water, content to watch your girl being led to the dance floor by every dumb jock who wouldn’t know a verb from Viagra. You seem to be content to watch the folds of her dress flow about the floor with the grace of doves on a wedding day. What are you waiting for, kid! Tonight’s the night!
Suddenly, your trance-like state is broken by the sound of a teacher saying, “Last dance, and it’s ladies’ choice!”
Surely she won’t dance with you now. It’s over: you might as well pick up your coat, leave early, and learn how to drink. It seems that you’re forever fated to watch your girl from a distance. It’s the last dance, and it’s ladies’ choice. There’s just no way in hell you’d be chosen now.
You see her walking towards you. Slowly, as if in a dream, as if she’s walking on thin clouds. Then she walks around your table. Round and round she goes… right behind you. Your heart is beating a million miles an hour. You feel a gentle tap at your shoulder, and those words: “Do you want to dance?”
You look over your shoulder… and nobody’s there.
Damn! Everyone else is dancing, but not you. The dance floor is so full of people now: your girl is probably out there dancing with somebody else or something. Why couldn’t it have been you? Sorry, kid: tonight’s not your night after all. You might as well go home now and tell your parents some made-up story that you danced with a girl.
But wait a second: who’s that seated in the table at the far left? It’s your girl!
… to be continued …