© By Jack Bogut
It was probably the ruffled white shirt, the bow tie and the tuxedo jacket slung over his shoulder that was the dead giveaway. That would explain why that smart-aleck in the pickup truck stuck his head out of the window when he went by and shouted,
"What's the matter son? Did she dump you out here and make you walk home?" (Snicker, giggle, guffaw, snort...)
He wanted to give him a portion of the "peace" sign but all he could manage was a weak smile and a feeble wave of his whole hand. You see, the truth hurts. She did..."dump him” out there.
She'd told him that if he kept messing around like that, after he said they were just going out to park and look at the moon, she was gonna leave him. He made a bad, dumb joke about “Roman” hands and “Russian” fingers, and she didn't laugh. So he called her bluff, stepped outside the car and said, "Well, okay. If you're gonna leave me, drive off."
Boy! She started the car so fast it made his head swim. He could smell dust for fifteen minutes after she was gone because she really floored it; spun one rear wheel, threw dust up his nose and dirt on his pants as she roared off "Neckers Nob." Even worse was the fact that it was his father's car, and he knew she'd drive it to his house and leave it on the street in front. Every relative with a mail box or a telephone would hear about this one.
There's not much dignity left in life when you have to walk back to town the morning after the prom. And dawn's early light is not your friend when you're the only one on the road wearing pants with a stripe down the side and shoes that shine all over.
As the morning traffic got heavier the odds got better that someone would stop and offer him a ride. And they could just FORGET IT! Now, a ride back to town would have been better than hoofing all the way in that rented, patent leather footwear because he already had blisters. But he didn't want to get in the car with anybody because he knew they'd ask him questions they thought were funny and then snicker at their own answers. Besides, he thought if he just kept walking and turned his face away from the road no one would recognize him. Fat chance!
Just about the time he was feeling fairly anonymous, somebody in a big-engined vehicle that still smelled of car wash soap, pulled up just behind and kept pace with him. He kept walking, nonchalantly, looking at the ditch until the siren sounded. Then, he gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to turn around until he heard the local Sheriff call through the open window,
"Don't take it too hard, son. The same thing happened to me years ago and now she's your mother!" Chortle, giggle, guffaw, snort.
It had all the earmarks of being a really dumb day.
The images that linger in the corners of our memories play back in wide screen, living color and sometimes loudly.
It wasn't always easy being young.