More Carrie Than Cinderella
I'm the type of guy who suffers from romantic visions. As an important or anticipated event nears, I play the entire thing out in my mind, each time with grander details and results. Because of this, I'm usually disappointed with the actual event.
My daughter, Zoey, and I attended our very first Father-Daughter Valentine's Day Dance on Saturday night. To say I was excited about the event would be a tremendous understatement.
I wore a sports coat and tie, two clothing items usually reserved for weddings and funerals. I bought a wrist corsage for her. Hell, I even ran a comb through my hair before we left the house, something I hadn't done since our family portrait, nearly two years ago.
I was determined do everything in my power to make Zoey's first dance as perfect as possible!
In my mind, I could see the evening playing out like a cheesy movie. I saw us in the middle of the room, balloons strewn across the dance floor, with the spotlight shining brightly on the two of us. I saw Zoey occasionally dancing with her little friends, but saving most of the dances for me.
But as always, reality was a far cry from my fantasy.
As soon as we got out of the car, I noticed that we were terribly overdressed. I saw little kids in t-shirts and moms in sweatpants. It was as if most people had come straight to the dance from soccer practice. I bet they hadn't even showered. Savages!
We made our way to the gymnasium. Zoey saw one of her friends, so we walked over and talked to her. After her friend left, I tried to get Zoey to dance with me but she was too busy scanning the room for more friends. Several girls came over to talk to her, so I took a few steps back and started talking to a woman I knew. When her friends moved along, I tried to get Zoey to dance with me by grabbing her wrists and moving her arms in an exaggerated motion. She rolled her eyes but still smiled. We did the Cha Cha Slide, the YMCA, and twisted. We were having a great time.
And then it happened.
Zoey told me she was hungry so we went to the next room to get some refreshments. I grabbed us each a glass of punch and we headed over to the snack table. We stared hungrily at the bounty of cookies, cupcakes, and brownies.
You know how sometimes when something bad happens, everything seems to move in slow motion, but you still can't do a damn thing to change the outcome? That's what happened on Saturday night.
Zoey opted for a cupcake. As the server handed it to her, Zoey's other hand tilted just slightly, causing her punch to spill on a tray of cupcakes, a box of sugar cookies, and the table. While I doubt the cup held more than six ounces of punch, it looked like she had spilled a gallon of the stuff across the table. The table looked worse than Sissy Spacek's character at the end of Carrie.
Zoey was visibly upset. I wanted to scoop her up in my arms, cradle her, and tell her everything was going to be all right. But I knew this would only lead to further embarrassment for her, so I took the cupcake from the server and the two of us headed to one of the tables so we could sit down.
I put my arm around her. As she stared at the small group of people busy throwing out the snacks she had ruined, I told her that no one had seen what had happened and that she shouldn't worry about it.
"Do you want your cupcake?" I asked.
"Do you want me to get you another glass of punch?"
"Do you want to go back to the gym?"
So we walked back to the gym. She was much more inhibited than before. Her eyes were still darting around the room, only instead of smiling faces, I think she was expecting to find people laughing at her. "Do you want to dance with Daddy?" I asked.
"Do you want to go home?"
"Yes," she said, as her eyes began to water.
We left the gymnasium and headed to the car.
"Did you have a good time?" I asked as I helped her into the backseat.
And then the tears started.
Suddenly, I was back in high school: the night hadn't turned out nearly as well as I had imagined and I was taking my date home in tears.