My parents had vetted me on many occasions and knew I was a square kid who really wasn’t much into breaking rules, so when a friend’s friend’s friend asked me to junior prom, I was allowed to go.
I didn’t think much of it. I was in eighth or ninth grade, and my mom had picked up a dress for me, some synthetic fabric used in the 1970s. It was in her favorite color, a pale lavender, which, when paired with my pale skin, made me look frail and unhealthily pallid.
Before the dance, we went to my friend’s date’s house. I was mildly surprised that the date’s mom kept filling our glasses with milk, “to help absorb the alcohol we’d all be drinking later.” She also kept passing plates of lasagna, baked for the same purpose.
The dance was in the high school gym. Afterwards, a large group drove to a lakeside cottage. I don’t remember much, except that I was left alone with my date, who was not someone I really knew well, and that he expected me to get cozy with him. I didn’t think so, so I struck a deal.
“Here, let’s hold hands and I’ll tell you some stories about my family. If you wanna make out after you hear how nutso we all are in my family, we will.”
This is where having seven older siblings comes in handy. But I didn’t begin with them. In the interest of establishing background, I started with my parents: my father being raised in the city, my mother raised in the country, and how they met during World War II. Oh, I couldn’t forget the war stories!
Dawn was breaking by the time I got to sibling number five, who is a rascal and a trilogy in and of himself.
As the couples emerged from their respective cocoons, I nodded to myself and released my grip on my date’s hands to wipe my palms together, and smiled at him brightly. “We should get going.”
“Wait, what about your brother…what happened after he jumped off the bridge...?”
“I will tell you on the way home. Come on, let’s go.”