He threw me a lifeline by asking me to the senior prom after my erstwhile boyfriend kinda, sorta dumped me about a month before the event. Actually he didn’t so much ask me as we made an agreement to go together, as his longtime girlfriend had also recently decided they needed to spend some time apart. So, being more or less friends, since 7th grade, and more or less in the same boat, it seemed like the convenient thing to do.
Even though it was a Plan B sort of thing, I appreciated having a date at all and took care picking out a dress and all the rest of it. The obligatory picture my parents took of us in our finery and flowers shows with remarkable clarity the awkwardness of the utter lack of any prom night romance. It was like a business deal. Still, we both had decided to make the best of it, and for the most part, we did.
Unfortunately, 18 is a very selfish, thoughtless age. Or maybe I’m just talking about myself. In the month between him asking me and the event itself, I had started to kinda, sorta speak again with the erstwhile boyfriend. This led to us kinda, sorta getting back together at an after-party we all went to that night. It was egregiously unfair to Roy, and I knew that, but I went ahead and behaved badly anyway.
Back in those days our school had the senior prom on the night before graduation. This meant that it was literally the penultimate time many of us would ever see one another again. So I grieved my bad choices later, and ever since. Not just because I had hurt a friend that night, but within nine months I learned he had died of a drug overdose in his dorm room, away at college. I never got the chance to really apologize to him, or to tell him what a stand-up guy he was.