By: Karen Hughes
Grandma slipped me a note: “Don’t be surprised if the phone rings about 9 tonight.” I knew what this was about. I was furious.
Grandma had overheard some of us girls discussing the upcoming prom. We weren’t going. Even if a knight in shining armor asked us, we weren’t interested.
Grandma couldn’t understand. Her schooling had ended after eighth grade; she’d never been to a prom, and she couldn’t imagine why we weren’t interested in going. We explained that people spent a fortune on dresses, tuxedos and flowers and often still had a miserable time. Too much pressure.
She ignored our explanations.
“Why don’t I call Uncle Harry’s friend, Jerry Clark? His son Dougis a freshman in college. I bet he’d be glad to take you to the prom,” she said.
“No, thanks. Discussion over,” I said. That’s what I thought.
I read the note, rushed down the hall and pushed open her bedroom door without knocking. “What did you do? Tell me you didn’t call the Clarks!?”
“I just want you to be happy,” Grandma replied. “I was only trying to help.”
“I’ll be happy if you just leave me alone,” I said. “You’ve probably ruined my life.” I slammed the door, screaming, “I’ll never speak to you again. And I won’t answer the phone.”
The phone rang at 9. My mother refused to bail me out and answer it. I tried to outwait the caller. After eight or ten rings, I gave in.
A deep voice said, “Hello. Is this Karen? My name is Doug Clark.”
He didn’t wait for me to respond. “I know you’re probably embarrassed and really mad at your grandmother. But think, not everyone is lucky enough to have someone love them enough to do something like this. You never know. Something good may come out of this yet.”
I relaxed a bit, but I still couldn’t talk. My heart was in my throat!
“So,” he continued, “do you want to go to the prom?”
“Not really,” I managed to stammer without hyperventilating.
“I don’t want to, either. But maybe we can take in a movie that night instead. What do you think?”
We planned our substitute date and said goodnight.
No, we didn’t end up marrying each other … but that night did start a summer of dating a sensitive, compassionate young man.