The Androgynous Strain 5
Because some teens could not deal with not finding a date, some teens turned gay. Some teens are grounded because of low grades; some teens are grounded because of misbehavior. Some teens turn to illegal drugs, some teens abuse alcohol, and some teens chain smoke cigarettes. Some teens keep going by taking cold showers.
"Not going? Why?"
"I don't have a date."
"Not hard enough." "Everyone is spoken for."
"Then get someone from another high school or junior high or college. I heard of eight gals sharing one guy. If all else fails, then get a hooker or a gigolo. Just make sure they're tested for disease."
"My friend can't go."
"Make other friends and go anyway."
"Sneak out. The worst they can do is kill you. And your folks are gonna do that anyway."
"I'm home schooled."
"No problem. Go with someone attending Campo who has tickets or can get tickets."
"My religion forbids it."
"Find another religion."
"I wimped out and lost the nerve to ask them."
"Man up or woman up as the case may be."
"It costs too much."
"Get your parents to pay for part of it. Get a job and pay for most of it. Clip coupons. Find discounts. Go halves with another couple and double date. Bust open your piggy bank. Pawn your guitar. Where there's a will, there's a way. That's the life lesson you're supposed to learn from all this."
"I'm in debt."
"So is the government and it's never going to shut down for long. Pay off your debts and then go."
"I haven't been asked."
"Then ask someone yourself."
"All the people there are going to hell and it's no big deal."
"Sour grapes. You aren't fooling anyone but yourself."
"The one I prefer already has a date."
"Then find your second most favorite person and go with them. If the one you preferred doesn't want you, then you shouldn't want them. They obviously don't appreciate a quality person like you. Go with someone else and be happy just to spite them. Or better yet, go and be happy just because happiness is a good thing."
"I'm too chicken to ask a girl because I'm afraid of rejection."
"Then get a friend to prescreen for you and to find several girls who will say yes. Then ask the one that your friend says will definitely say yes. Or get the word out that you would welcome the advances of a girl who was forward. Just be sure you like assertive girls. They're not like passive girls. They will not waste time with boys who are not receptive to them."
"I was banned by the principal for fighting."
"No problem. It does not have to be Campo de Cahuenga. Teens at other high schools would love to take a date from another school. Use your formal name or your nickname in case principals talk to each other in the district."
"I wasn't invited."
"Then advertise on the internet that you want to be invited."
"I got cold feet."
"A promise is a promise."
"They got nothing on us. Did you know that some Hollywood stars missed it and still regret it? Imagine. Rich as they are."
"Of course. Everyone who missed theirs bitterly regrets it. They envy the fun and feel like a loser. You'll regret it if you don't go."
"My mother said she's sorry she didn't go."
"My dad said he could kick himself for not going."
"My aunt was hospitalized. She says that if she had known, then she would have gone on crutches or put off going into the hospital"
"My grandfather slept through it because he was tired from his job and didn't take No-Doze. In his words, he rues the day. My guess is unrequited love."
"Since they destroyed marriage, it's the only milestone in life between birth and death."
"It's a rite of passage. If you skip it, then you'll always be insecure and need therapy."
They were discussing the night of their dreams.
"No Oscars or Nobel Prize or Congressional Medal of Honor or party nomination or coronation even comes close."
"You need to make memories as a kid before you become an adult."
"You're leaving friends you'll never see again."
"We may never all be together again."
"It's a magic unforgettable night."
"It's the most important social event of your life."
"It's a very special day remembered forever as wonderful and amazing."
"You only get one chance to go. You don't get another chance. You only get one."
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"Life is short. Why waste it?"
"It's a night to remember."
"I want to throw a killer party."
Cameron was in the next booth at the fast food place with John and overheard the conversation. Words like murder, death, and kill always perked up her ears. Ahhhhh, to be like Carrie, covered with blood and making knives fly through the air with only your mind. That would be a killer party.
Of course, Cameron did not actually want a bloodbath any more than people who read murder mysteries wanted to be murdered or people who went to slasher movies wanted to be slashed. But one fantasizes sick fantasies and Cameron, though an infiltrator, still had terminator in her heritage.
"Let's party!" said one with eyes wide.
"Too late to lose weight. Suck in your stomach. Wear a girdle or corset like those Rubenesque fat women of the past."
The only thing they were sucking down was cola.
The music committee had settled on all new music and only new music because no one wanted to hear old music. It was new music or no music at all. However, there would be a last waltz.
John was glad he learned how to waltz in summer camp -- not that mom was going to let him go.
Many waited until the last minute believing that if you shop early, it will be out of style. Many did not plan. Many did not commit to any group. And when some gals got busy, like bridezillas, the guy was left out. Many teens got so busy that they did not communicate with their friends. As much as he tried to block it out, John overheard the conversation too.
"Cameron, do you think we should contact Morris?"
The talk in the next booth continued. The topic was the same every day.
"It's a big night."
"It's going to be fun."
"I can't wait!"
"The essential thing is success."
"I just want to be popular."
"I just want good looks or at least to look good."
"I want to be pretty."
"I want to be beautiful."
"I just want to be wanted."
John got up and he and Cameron moved to another booth away from the conversation. In the new seats, there were teens nearby.
"I just want the perfect dress."
"The dress should be over two hundred dollars."
"Tuxedo, dinner reservations, corsage, limousine . . . "
"It's the one thing you should spend a ton of money on."
"You could never spend too much or put too much time and energy on it."
"The memories have to last a lifetime so do it up right."
They got up and left the restaurant to go shopping. The table was wiped off and soon another group sat down.
"This is as American as it gets. More than mom, apple pie, baseball, and the flag. Segregation? That's like the Klan. All that forbidden stuff is anti-American. They aren't really Americans."
"Fundamentalism is a psychosis."
"I just don't get Baptists being against dancing. The Baptist denomination started on the idea of freedom. There was dancing at that wedding where Jesus turned water into wine. Jesus knew how to party. He didn't get drunk but he did drink."
On the other side of them was another conversation
"They have a good reason for not going. No one wants them. They're ugly."
None of these people were talking about John or Cameron of course. But they left the restaurant feeling shunned and excluded.
At home, Sarah repeated: "No, you can't go. Too dangerous. The last time I went somewhere, it was a blast and terminators showed up. The police and FBI are still looking for me."
"Cameron can go and protect me."
"And who's going to protect her from getting pregnant?"
"She can't get pregnant. She's a machine."
"Maybe you're right but you still can't go."
"Are you pregnant mom?"