When Jeanne said those words, I finally realized I was walking into a trap! I was going to be singled out as an old buzzard amongst these high school kids! (paranoia at it's finest!) I wished I didn't volunteer for this duty for a few moments, then, while walking into the reception hall, I saw, to my shock, that I wasn't the one walking into a trap. A bunch of girls ran towards us, and seemingly sucked Jeanne away from me. They were saying some things I couldn't make out, what with them moving away from where I standing, so quickly...
..."Who is that guy???"
One after the other, the girls I hung out with in school kept repeating that question. I wasn't prepared to answer that, at least not so soon! While they were dragging me away I motioned to Ian to have a seat on a table. He was still shocked at what transpired, but he did understand what I was trying to tell him and he went to a table. So, after a brief moment to think my response over, I just told them "You don't know him, he's not from our school". Before they could finish saying "Of course he's not" I shot out "I have to go stay with him, he's all alone at the table". So, I managed to squirm out of that tight situation. I was still contemplating whether to say that Ian was the cousin-in-law I kept talking to them about, or to keep his identity secret. I just hoped they wouldn't go up to him to ask him who he was!
"Dinner is served"
Dinner was better than I expected! I was pretty much used to crap on plates like what I was had to stomach in my prom back then, when no one cared about the food, only about the special moment of the prom. Or something like that. Here, I actually liked the food! Jeanne didn't seem to like the food though, or maybe she wasn't hungry. She did seem to be deep in thought about something...
"What do I tell them???"...
...kept ringing in my mind. I was still confused. I kept thinking about what might happen if my friends found out this was the guy I kept raving about. They might go up to him and say something like "Hey Ian, did you know Jeanne has the hots for you?". On the other hand, I could tell them that he was Steve from another high school, or something to that effect. Then, I'd have to keep Ian from being talked to by my friends, which would be a tall order indeed. Ian would end up wondering why I lied to my friends about him, which would just about crush me. I chose to tell them who he really is, and would try to keep them from blabbing my intimate feelings for him. Then, I tried to finish my drink (I hardly had an appetite on this nervous night!) when I felt the tug of 5 pairs of hands, and the owners of said hands were shouting...
..."Hi Jeannie, we need to talk to you!"
I remember those words spoken, like, right after Jeanne stopped thinking about whatever she was thinking about. Then, the girl trap just took her back to their table again! Well, I could just talk to myself... or play with the dinner and salad forks until I had someone to talk to... either way, I decided I wasn't going to make a scene out of myself by talking to the other couples at our table and end up saying "Hi, I'm a college grad student ".
"Who is that guy you're with? He's really cute!"
I froze for a bit: even though I told myself I was going to come clean about his identity, I still had butterflies in my stomach while answering "That's Ian". They all looked at each other for a few seconds, with expressions of shock on their faces, and all turned back to me and seemed to simultaneously say "No way! He's too young to be Ian!" A smile came to my face as I realized it wasn't just me looking at Ian with rose tinted glasses; on this night, he really did look like a high school guy. I replied "I kid you not, that's really Ian". The temptation to admit I was just kidding was strong, but, I stuck to what I intended to say. They still didn't believe me, and, while they were arguing about the truth of my statement, I peered over to Ian, to see if he wasn't not feeling too awkward about sitting by himself. I saw him there at the table, and some girl was talking to him. Being on the other side of the room's dance floor, I couldn't hear whatever she was saying to him...
"Hi, would you like to dance with me?"
That certainly took me by surprise. I was just sitting there, admiring the beauty of the table cloth, and some girl came up to me and asks me to dance? I didn't even notice that music started playing and there were people dancing already. Considering that dancing with this girl would be a lot less boring than to stay at the table, I agreed, and I went with that girl to dance...
"Hey, your guy is dancing with someone else!"
I didn't need to hear those words to know what was happening. I saw the whole thing taking place, and well, and in retrospect, I say I can't blame him, seeing as how I would've done the same thing if I were in his shoes. At the time though, I was furious! I took him here, and he dances with someone else! I was thinking of giving him some serious lip service, but then one of my friends said "Well, if you can't have the first dance with him, you might as well have the first SLOW dance". That statement immediately cooled me down, because I realized that some club/dance song was playing at the moment. I'd just have to make sure I got the first dance that required me to be in his arms, again!
"Gee, I'm sorry, I have to go take a seat. I have a headache."
After two songs of techno music dancing, I had to take a break, my head was killing me! The girl seemed slightly disappointed, but she did grin at me and say "Thanks for the dance". Well, after I got back to the table, the music took a downbeat, so to speak. The slow songs started playing, and that helped me feel a little better. Headaches like loud slow songs more than loud fast songs. I started to wonder if I would be going home alone, I hadn't seen Jeanne for awhile.
"Okay, here's my chance, I'm going!"
Well, I waited a little, and the situation was perfect. He just stopped dancing with that bimbo and the love songs were playing. I got up, and they said "Good luck with Ian!" So, they finally believed me. I guess the red hate on my face showed the truth better than any words could. I said "Thanks, and see you around" just as I (quickly!) walked back to Ian...when I got there, I asked my dream date...
..."May I have this dance?"
So, the girl returns! Maybe she and her friends ran out of gossip to trade. I probably would have accepted her offer to have that dance, but I was still miffed at her leaving me by myself like that, and my headache was still throbbing. So, I had to tell her...
..."Thanks, but not now."
Damn! I was thinking to myself, "This isn't happening, this can't be happening!" I was furious at this turn of events, so I just threw myself into a chair, a few seats away from him, just feeling angry and frowning to myself. For a few minutes, I was sitting there, still fuming mad at Ian for not waiting for me to dance with him, and for not getting off his butt to have that dance with me now. After a couple of minutes or so, I glanced at Ian, to see if there was any indication on his face that he'd change his mind. What I saw on his face, really touched my heart...
..."Damn this headache!"
I kept thinking that over and over again, how this headache kind of throbbed steadily. Due to this persistent pain, I wasn't sure of much going around me. I must've looked like hell to others though, and I wasn't in the mood to explain to Ms. Teenage Gossip that I didn't want to get up because of this darned headache. I'm sure she could see it from my face, she's a bright young woman, she can interpret things well...
..."Maybe he feels too shy to ask me after refusing me"
I almost felt sorry that I got upset with him. He looked so distraught, so guilty, such an expression of pain on his face. I thought, he probably felt gun shy to ask me to dance after turning me down a few minutes ago, so I decided to make him feel better by asking him again "Hey Ian, let's just forget about what happened, and, by the way, they're playing my song. Let's dance, okay?"
"Well, okay, I feel a bit better now, shall we?"
My head cleared a bit, maybe the constant frowning I put my face through helped. Then, she asks me to dance with her, which was fine by me at that point. She finally realized how she left me alone the table! Well, for me, things like that are usually classified as water under the bridge after it's over and done with, anyways. So, I got up, took her hand, and led her to dance.
"What a song to say is mines!"
I told him they were playing my song without even paying attention to what song was really playing. That's how worried I was that he was going to turn me down again, especially considering my indirect outburst of anger, and this seemed like the last love song they would play for a while, at least. That fear turned into something else, when Ian held me in his arms once again, to dance. I had this warm feeling overcome me, that I can feel happy and content on this night, my prom night. I had the dance, a "sweet" dance like we call it out here, with the guy I still loved. I heard someone yell out, "Yay, Jeanne!", the voice sounded like one of my friends, but I didn't care. All I cared about was that on this beautiful evening, I was in Ian's arms. I could care less if the roof suddenly fell on us or if the people starting rioting around us. At least, I would be in his arms when it happened. Then, I suddenly realized near the end of the song, what song we were dancing to, what song I told Ian was my song: "Secret Lovers".
In the months after my prom, I didn't get to see much of Ian. He was busy with work, school, and taking care of Anna, who was going to give birth soon. I always wondered what the baby would look like, and how I'd feel when I saw the baby. When Ian's baby girl finally came into this world, it seemed like everyone and their children were visiting the family at the hospital. That included me as well, and, how did I feel when I first got to carry little Paula? Strange as it may sound, it was like holding Ian, in a weird way.
The two days at the beach
Well, not too long after I became the proud father of little Paula, my in-laws planned a beach trip for all of us in the "extended" family. Me and Anna were thrilled at the idea, because we hardly got to have any kind of fun or relaxation starting from the days late into Anna's pregnancy. So, a little over a month after Paula was born, we all went to a beach resort for a two day stay. All of Anna's relatives who planned the outing were anxious to get to have their first opportunity to spend some quality time with the youngest member of the family. Little did I know, that this occasion would be most unforgettable, in more ways than one...