Author’s Note: This is 100% true, and as such, I removed the connection to my Facebook page for this post, because I don’t want “Matt” to know this still bothers me 20+ years on, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still sometimes wonder about his motives
Dramatic stories were never in short supply when I was a teenager, but when I think back on high school, one incident stands out as the most John Hughes-esque of them all. In the fall of 1991, I was a junior, far more dedicated to my schoolwork than the immature boys who surrounded me. Homecoming was fast approaching and I wanted to go to the dance, despite having no romantic prospects even remotely on the horizon, so I decided to ask my best friend Matt (not his real name) to go with me. He seemed ok with it at first but somewhere along the line, he changed his mind and it became the biggest embarrassment of my young life. A couple of days before the dance, I was hanging out with my fellow band geeks in the bandroom as I did every morning before class when Matt came hobbling in to put up his trumpet. He informed me in front of everyone that he had fallen down the stairs at his house and sprained his ankle so he couldn’t go to the dance with me. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember having absolutely no clue what to feel. I was angry and hurt and not entirely surprised all at the same time, but I couldn’t believe my best friend would do something that cruel to me. I went on to class, and it wasn’t until later in the day that a mutual friend told me he’d seen Matt limping on the wrong ankle. He was faking. I’m sure I saw him later at band practice and I don’t remember saying anything to him because I was so embarrassed I didn’t want to go through anything more. To add insult to injury, later that night, Matt’s mother made him call to apologize and tell me he’d take me to the dance. Looking back, I wish I had told him to suck it, but I was so desperate for a social life that I willingly made myself a doormat to have one. The night of the dance, his mother drove us to the school and he spent the whole way there arguing with her about paying for my ticket. My father had slipped me some cash before I left in case I needed it, but thankfully, I didn’t. Matt got over himself and bought my ticket, but he spent most of the night sitting by himself and pouting. When I got home, my father said “I don’t know why you’re friends with such a spoiled brat who treats you like this.” It was because Matt was the only friend I had who accepted my weirdness and I was willing to overlook his flaws to be understood. Maybe that is the most dramatic truth about my teenage years after all.