I attended a small, private high school with about one hundred kids in each grade, which meant there was a lot of inter-dating between the “cool” kids and a lot of awkward nothing between everyone else. As you might have guessed, I was “everyone else”. In some ways, it was good I didn’t date because I fostered amazing friendships instead. In other, more important ways, it was terrible because it made me weirdly desperate for a boyfriend and aware that “buttering someone’s muffin” was some sort of sexual phrase but completely oblivious as to what the muffin was and why it was getting buttered.
One particular morning on the way to school, my mom tuned in to her favorite radio station where two old guys try to stay relevant and it’s mostly sad. The DJs were doing their regular segment where listeners call in, ask for things, and the DJs try to help them out. I dialed on repeat, trying to make it past the busy tone. While some high school kids were smoking weed and getting drunk, my adrenaline rush stemmed from trying to make it on the morning radio show. And this time, the phone started ring. My heart jumped, terrified that I had gotten through, panting like a dog who finally caught the car he’d been chasing. “Star one hundred point seven, hey-o Carly, what do you want?” I froze, my heart feeling like it might explode from fear, and uttered the first thing that popped into my boy-obsessed hormone-driven mind: “A prom date.” Because I live in a reality that is totally heightened and unrealistic, I guess I immediately thought it was going to be one of those situations where a nerdy high-schooler makes a case for why he deserves to go to prom with X or Y supermodel and some version of it actually happens due to media involvement. I imagined arriving in a limo in front of all those “cool kids” while motherfucking Ryan Gosling gave me a corsage.
“Okay, we’re going to try and get Carly a prom date! Tell us a little about yourself.” Acutely aware that my voice was projecting through mini vans across suburban San Diego, my mind was able to access only the most basic facts I could remember about myself: “I’m short.” “Okay…What else?” “And…and…” I searched for something, anything, to make me sound appealing to my future soulmate who could be listening in right at that very moment. “And…I’m awesome?” The fact that I said it as a question only served to cause everyone to second guess me, begging the answer, “No. No you’re not.” The DJs bantered a little more, attempting to get something worth listening to out of me before finally realizing I was as fascinating as a rotten potato and abruptly cutting me off the line. I spent the rest of my morning in a daze.
When I got to school, I had mostly recovered from the shock of failing over public radio, clinging to the fact that the 100.7 fan base was so minuscule no one would know my embarrassment. Until a teacher walked past me in the hall. “Hey, did you call Star 100.7 this morning to ask for a prom date?” My face froze, my expression identical to the look I had when my mom caught me masturbating. I ran down the hall, only to discover throughout the day from students and teachers alike that practically the entire school listens to 100.7 in the morning. Now the whole school knew I was a) pathetic and b) undateable. Needless to say, I did not get a prom date that year. Or the next. But I went with friends, had a decent time, and…I’m still awesome?