Friday, January 29, 2010

My worst date story: a tale of 80's awkwardness

Oh the memories of high school
Going to a high school dance with a friend. This would be great. We were friends, right? Buddies. Arm punches, friendly joking. Easy, no pressure. I said yes to my friend Steven when he asked me to the dance sophomore year in high school. In fact, I don’t think he even asked me. I think we were probably just hangin’ out, both talked about it and decided yeah, that’s cool, we’ll go to the dance together.

Insert the daunting sound here. Actually enter the smooth crooning of Lionel Richie and you have foreshadowing to my most uncomfortable date ever.

We all have them. Dates gone horribly wrong. And while this tale of mismatched love comes from the 80’s, it never ceases to reduce the level of discomfort I have in recalling it.

The first sign that this was a night gone awry was walking into my house and finding my father sitting uncomfortably in the living room, jumping up with a way-too friendly “there she is!” hop and a smile when I walked in. Coming from a piano rehearsal, I knew I’d have a small window of time to get ready for this evening’s dance with my friend Steven, but I knew how to weld that bottle of Sebastian’s Sphrtiz Forte and hairdryer like no other and could whip my bangs to great height with speed if need be.

But this was not what I had expected. He was way early to pick me up, and sitting in my living room was my friend, along with his mother and adult sister. Formally. Sitting together. With my father. Steven had brought me a corsage. “Now why would he do that?” I thought. “We’re just buddies going to the dance together.” But one look at his mother’s face as she looked at me as a doting mother-in-law might, and I knew this was not going to be what I had thought it would be. This was a date. A real date. And there were parents involved.

Curses. I did not have time to coax my hair with Sebastian hairspray but I’m sure I quickly spritzed some Poison perfume and changed into an outfit from Contempo Casuals. It most likely included pegged pants, and perhaps chambray. “Let’s do this,” I said to myself in the mirror, and out I walked into the temperate Southern California night and into the back of the Toyota, while Steven opened the door for me.

As we drove to the dance, it was now I realized why the adult sister was brought along. To sit in the front passenger seat while mom drove, so that the “lovebirds” could sit together in the back. Oh Steven. I didn’t want to hurt him, and I certainly hadn’t seen this coming.

The dance was a blur: hanging out with friends, which was exactly what I had hoped for and expected. But then the dreaded time came. The dance was over. And there in the parking lot was the Toyota with mom at the wheel. As we drove away, Steven asked her to turn the music up, and as he faked a stretch, he put his arm around me. What was going to happen next? Oh dear lord, I thought. Please don’t try to kiss me in front of your mom. Speaking of kissing. Is he going to kiss me goodnight? What am I going to do? How can I handle this gracefully? A million things rushed through my mind. But soon they were shushed by the music in the backseat of that Toyota.

“You are the sun, you are the rain. That makes my life this foolish game.”

It was the smooth stylings of Lionel Richie. I hated Lionel Richie. Hearing Lionel’s voice was not helping the awkwardness of the moment. But it was about to get worse.

“You need to know, I love you so. And I’d do it all again and again.”

It wasn’t only Lionel’s voice I was hearing. It was my date’s voice. As he sung along with Mr. Ritchie, while gazing deep into my eyes. He was singing to me. I couldn’t move, and I certainly couldn’t sing along. I couldn’t stare back into those FRIENDLY brown eyes. I lost myself in the music and told myself I’d soon be home.

I said goodbye to my not-future-mother-in-law and sure enough, an awkward moment at the door followed. Goodnight. Goodnight.

As I lay in bed that night, Lionel Richie and his sunglasses sang to me, and I vowed to hate his music for the rest of my life.

“I know you know the way I feel. And I need your love for always. Cause when I’m with you, I fall in love. Again and again and again, Baby.”

This post is to not only share with you one of my most painfully awkward dates, but to let you know that 8 people are going to stand on a stage with a microphone on Thursday, February 4th, at Portland's Bagdad Theater, and tell you their true stories of bad dates. I've heard their stories, and they're funny. And horrible...
Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County Commissioner
Tara Dublin, fabulous gal about town
Jimmy Radosta, essayist
Courtenay Hameister, host of Live Wire and True Stories
Mark Wiener, political consultant
Aaron Mesh, film critic for Willamette Week
Caryn Brooks, Portland writer, critic, kvetcher
Roey Thorpe, political activist

This is a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon: doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm. I’ll be there, along with Karol Collymore to emcee the event, and I hope you will come! Especially you blog lurkers! Full information here.

Yes, the picture with this post is of me at a dance in high school, but not this dance or the date described above. And yes, that is Sphritz Forte at work on those bangs: you're welcome.


Jacquelyn said...

I've got my tickets! Sounds like a blast!

Heather said...

Great story. There needs to be a follow-up about the matching coca cola shirts though!

Best Wishes, Marie said...

the story is like something out of a Hughes movie. i just have one question. were you wearing shoulder pads?

Syd said...

I remember the Coca Cola shirts, but I don't recall the "fashion" of stuffing your pants into your tube socks.

Maybe that one didn't make it all the way to Mississippi. Go figure.

LeLo said...

Jacquelyn: Yeah! I can't wait to meet you in person.

Heather: Is there really anything that needs to be said about matching coca cola shirts?

Marie: Duh. Of course.

Syd: You forget: stirrup pants.

A Lewis said...

Sebastian! I remember that all too well. And, I hate to tell you, but I borrowed one of those very same Coke sweatshirts (except in green color) from what would become my future WIFE! Yikes.....

Mom said...

I'm glad I left the porch light on!
Hugs, Mom

Rozanne said...

Your hair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bemused said...

LOL at Rozanne's comment! (I had the same reaction but you know I had almost the same 'do so I really shouldn't poke fun.)

Wish I could join in but I'll be in Seattle at the flower show. I'll be thinking of you, though!

Lia Hollander said...

Well, I guess now we know who to blame the whole in the ozone layer on.

Coca-Cola, naturally. ;)

Anonymous said...

Who was Steven? I love your hair. It reminds me of the "Xenon West" Days.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to post as an "Anonymous". It's me, Kari.

Sally Kathryn said...

Oh dear - I remember that picture.

LeAnn, you are one of a trend-setting teased bangs lil friend.

Julie Anderson said...

Hi! I write for LIke Totally 80s and would LOVE to feature the shot of you and your date in matching Coke shirts in this post. You can check out the site here:

All for good fun and 80s appreciation, I promise. :)

Please let me know if it's okay, and have a great day,

Julie Anderson

Julie Anderson said...

Not sure if you will be able to email me from the comment I just posted, so am commenting again after checking that follow-up comments will go to my email address. And wanted to add that of course we'll link back to your blog if allowed to use your awesome photo.


LeLo said...

Hi Julie, post away! The photo is too good not to share. -Lelo