I moped around the house and bitterly complained the rest of the evening. My father took pity on me and, the next morning, called me into his office for an audience.
“Ginger, if you could go to prom with anybody at all, who would it be?”
Those of you from this area will know what I mean when I say that back then, Paul X was probably the epitome of high school physical fitness and manly-manliness. He was about six-four, probably 225, muscular, long shaggy Beach Boy hair, big brown eyes, shy friendly smile. His broad shoulders were ever so slightly rounded forward, causing him to look like a beautiful puma about to pounce. Narrow waistline tapered into powerful piston-like hips that served him well in his position as quarterback when he decided to make the play instead of pass.
I was still a virgin, but just because I hadn’t tasted the fruit didn’t mean my mouth didn’t water. Sexual tension was an understatement, is all I’m saying.
“I guess Paul X, Daddy. Why?”
Dad picked up the heavy black telephone receiver and began dialing a number by heart.
“His father owes me a favor. I’ll have him have Paul take you to prom.”
Horror of horrors! A mental image of Mr. X laughing and Paul hooting and hollering at the audacity of my father demanding Paul take me to the prom filled my mind’s eye. Next I saw Paul standing in the center hallway at school surrounded by dozens of hangers-on, all laughing at his animated story about the pitiful little Ginger Hamilton putting her daddy up to asking Paul to take her to prom. The chortles and guffaws in my head made my cheeks burn like I’d been slapped, hard.
I reached across my father’s desk and pushed the plunger, ending the call.
“No, Daddy! You can’t ask him that! I’ll be the laughingstock at school.” I’m sure my eyes were round with fear and anxiety.
“Are you sure? It’s really quite simple,” Dad explained. “This will be an easy out for his father, and it’s a win-win situation: Paul’s dad is released from his obligation, and you get Paul as a prom date. All it’ll take is one phone call.” His hand got dangerously close to the dial.
“I’m positive!” I thanked my father for his offer.
Dad hadn’t tried to dismiss my situation. The fact he was willing to trade power he held over another man just to make me happy was not lost on me. This was a big deal to me, and he had acknowledged it in such a way that I now realized prom held some mystical significance even to my father.
It occurred to me I could not just settle for a warm body. If Daddy had been willing to sacrifice a boon for me to have the prom date I wanted, that meant I needed to find a man of substance. I wasn’t sure exactly why that was, but the social message came through loud and clear.
That afternoon, at the dress shop I worked at, I explained my dilemma to my best friend Darlene. She suggested the lead singer in her fiance’s band. He and his girlfriend had recently broken up, so he was single. He had just graduated from Marshall University, so he was sufficiently manly (I had little in common with guys my age as far as dating interests went. Strange as it sounds, grown men were much more accepting of my limits than high school boys were. I was a fantastic wrestler, but a wrestling match was not my idea of a fun way to end a date).
Darlene vouched for Phil’s good looks, sense of humor, musical talents, etc. He sounded like a decent potential prospect. Time was of the essence. I had Darlene finagle an invitation for me to come to that evening’s band practice and see if he and I clicked.
The hunt was on.
[Part III tomorrow]