It was ninth grade, back when ninth graders still stayed in junior high.
I had detention. I don’t remember why. But so did the best looking girl in the class, whom I’ll call Rhonda—because, that was her name.
The catch was, she was dating Benny, the captain of the football team. But, at detention, I learned there was trouble in paradise. Oh yes. They had broken up, with just four days to go before the big ninth grade dance.
We had a fine chat, so when I got home, I decided, what the heck. I called her up to ask her to the dance. Sure, she said, why not.
Of course, I had to avoid her the entire week, to make sure she didn’t back out of accepting. And, as luck would have it, my mustache was finally coming in that very week, so after four days of rubbing my fingers over my lip, I had a second mustache, the second one made of acne.
My first shaving experience was awesome. Man that felt great!
Being only 14, my dad had to drive me to her house, and this is where things got tricky.
Her father happened to be the head coach of the Huron high school hockey team. My entire life, I dreamed of playing not for the Red Wings or even Michigan, but Huron High.
So, when I got there, I had to be cool around Rhonda – wearing a beautiful spaghetti strap purple dress I remember to this day – tough around her dad, but sweet around her mom. After we took some pictures by the fireplace, I figured I’d pulled the whole thing off – until we get to the gym.
I made sure we showed up about 20 minutes late, so all my friends – and my enemies – could see me walk in with the prettiest girl in school.
Well, it worked – maybe too well.
My former best friend yells, from the back of the gym, with 300 people I’ve known my entire life between us: “Hey Bake! Look at your coat!”
I look down, and I see a sight I will also never forget: There are only two buttons on a sport coat, and I’ve got them mixed up. The coat is a mess – with everything tilted to the side, as if I’m on a skateboard flying by.
My brain goes into full panic mode – Reee! Reee! Reee! – can’t function! Can’t function! To this day I don’t know if I kept walking, or even could.
The rest of the night, I was a shell of a man. But I was young, and I recovered, playing baseball and hanging out with my friends.
Until, that is, I got a little envelope from a strange address, and I open it up.
In it is a sweet note from Rhonda’s mom – and a photo, of us standing together, next to their fireplace – and I have my coat buttoned wrong!
Why wouldn’t anyone tell me?
Oh, and her father started coaching one of the Red Wings’ minor league teams that fall. Lot of good all that did me.
So, boys, this prom season, be sure to double-check your coat to make sure you buttoned it properly. Girls, double-check your date’s coat to make sure he buttoned it properly. And moms, if your daughter’s date didn’t button his coat properly – don’t send him photos.
But don’t worry, boys. Even if you do screw it up, you’ll get over it—after years of therapy and light medication. You’ll be fine. Trust me.