Shades of the Past: The High School Dance

So there I was, outside the high school, the very same one I went to 20 plus years ago, waiting for my 15 year old daughter. My fingers drum the steering wheel as I watch other parents circle the parking lot. The radio is playing and as I check the clock for the umpteenth time, the next song comes on, REO Speedwagon, and suddenly I’m transported back in time.

I’ve always said that your senses are your best connection to the past. A smell, a sight, a sound can put you in a cherished moment from the past. Music has that power. I sat in my truck and I remembered wanting the dance to last a little longer, wanting more time to hold my sweetheart’s hand, to have one more slow dance and steal another kiss. (Remember, 15 yrs old and old-fashioned. I had an exaggerated sense of chivalry). I could remember thinking my dad was waiting outside and so was hers.

Here is where the cold splash of reality snapped me back to the present. That was MY daughter in there and some punk-assed, pimple faced boy with disproportionately large hands… Here I have to take a deep breath and remember that 20 plus years ago, that punk-ass was me and that girl whose mother waited outside, is now my wife, Sue.

I have to accept that Bug is growing up. I have to accept that Bean is heading to that same high school in little over a year. In doing so I have to also accept that I am getting older as well. I am now in the same position my parents and, more notably, Sue’s parents were. It’s something I never gave much thought to. They seemed so old from my teenaged perspective, but I don’t feel that old. Ok, some days after softball tournaments I do feel that old but I certainly don’t think like I’m old.

I suppose they didn’t either.

I watch her walk out the doors of the tech wing (changed now from my time there) and walk towards the truck and at first I feel relieved that no boy follows her out. She seems so confident and I’m glad. She looks beat, a good showing at the swim meet earlier in the day coupled with an evening of dancing, and so she should. But above all she’s happy. She’s had boyfriends and I’m happy she’s taking her time and has a level head about the whole thing. I don’t remember being that confident and mature at her age.

But there was a time overlapping and I couldn’t help but actually miss high school and envy her the mystery and sparkle that comes with finding first loves, and second loves and just being a teenager. Going to a dance now, just doesn’t have that same magic.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually like high school. I wouldn’t give that time up, mind you, but I have my regrets. I made some mistakes that I’d like to undo. There were opportunities I should have taken, but I came away with something invaluable, I married my high school sweetheart. There walking across the parking lot was the results.

Age be damned, I’m where I’m supposed to be and so is Bug. I have to realize that time has rose-coloured my memories of those dances and I can’t stop my two girls from growing up. I can, however, do my damnedest to prevent myself from getting any older. Mind over matter, right? RIGHT??

Author’s note: 20 plus years means that I don’t want to admit to any more than that amount of time. It’s my age prevention technique. (20plus=closer to 30yrs). Sue says I don’t act a day over 12 and I thank her every time. Not sure why that makes her roll her eyes and stomp out of the room.

About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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12 Responses to Shades of the Past: The High School Dance

  1. Lisa Llamrei says:

    LOL, Dale. I had exactly the same experience of deja vu at exactly the same time and place for exactly the same reason. Except my daughter did have a date and came home ‘in a relationship’. We’re now both in the same place our parents were twen..mumble…mumble… years ago. I’m beginning to appreciate that adolescence is at least as scary for the parents as for the kids.

  2. Dave Jones says:

    Ah yes. “Memories. Pressed between the pages of my mind.” The circle of life goes round and round and we live those moments again but from a different perspective. One day we will be an ‘old-timer’ sitting on the porch in a rocking chair with a blanket over our legs and we will smile. All of those moments will become the story of life and we will see our puzzle almost completed and know the truth.

  3. Too funny, Dale. Life is such a great teacher, isn’t it? I feel blessed that I’m getting to an age where I can look back and thrill at the timeline. Watching my children parent is just the best. Oh, I admit to a little joy in watching them struggle with things we had to confront with them, but it’s all good. As it should be.

  4. Diane Dooley says:

    What a lovely post, Dale. My kids are only eight and ten, so I have some time before I have to confront some of the things you’re dealing with. I only hope my boys are not as wild as I was when I was a teenager.

  5. Dale Long says:

    Thanks Diane.
    I was a pretty quiet kid, but I had my moments and I remember what was going through my head at those dances and that’s what scares me.

  6. I’m right there with you. My oldest has gone through the high school dance phase and has now moved onto living in residence in Ottawa. My youngest is that 15 year old boy that’s likely trying to paw your daughter…as I once was…Okay, not really. I was the 15 year old that THOUGHT about it a lot, but never had the nerve to actually do it.

    Damn, this brought back a lot of memories, Dale. Well done.

  7. Dale Long says:

    Thanks Tobin!
    You and me both. I think they call it manners now. 😉 At least that`s what I`m calling it… ya, ya, that`s the ticket! I wasn`t scared, it was manners…

  8. Dale – what a great post. There’s just something about you sitting in the same parking lot waiting for your own daughter that makes the story brilliant.

    You hit the nail on the head though – dances don’t hold the same magic these days. The memory of school dances is vivid for me too, and I remember the night was always far too short. Where else could you neck for 3 songs in a row and not have a parent barge in? (I wasn’t dancing with a nice boy like you from the variance of our recollections!) There might be something said for the way you did it – since you and Sue are still in love and raising your own children now, and my dance partner is long gone. I think he works in a gas station now. There’s something to be said for pacing yourself!

    Good luck with the “wating dad” gig. I’m not gonna lie – it doesn’t get easier!

    • Dale Long says:

      Pacing…I never thought of it that way.

      I’d like to say Sue was my first dance partner, but I had to wait through four years of high school to find her, but she was the most memorable. Good things come to those who wait.

      So far I think Bug is “pacing herself” and for that I’m glad. Though I don’t think I’ll ever get use to wearing the moniker of waiting dad. It chafes and makes me feel old.

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