I called my friend on Saturday evening. “Hey, are you going to go to the sock hop that was announced last week at church?”
“Not me,” he replied. “Sock hops are dumb. Besides, I plan to go to choir practice tomorrow, and I want my voice to be good and strong.”
“It will take more than a little beauty sleep, Prince Charming,” I teased him.
The choir desperately needed men, and the church leaders had announced a new choir leader that was very pretty. I knew a lot of young men would join the choir now. Even though I must admit that that was also the reason my friend and I planned to go, I also knew I probably didn’t have a chance with a girl like her. When it came to members of the opposite gender, I always became nervous and spoke in Chinese, even though I don’t know Chinese.
“Well,” I told him, “I plan to go to the sock hop and still go to choir.”
“I don’t know why you even bother going to dances,” he said, “you never even ask anyone to dance.”
That was only too true. Almost every dance I went to, by the time I worked up enough courage to ask someone, the night would be over. Still I would go, hoping I could muster up enough nerve to dance just one dance.
When I arrived at the sock hop, I found out that it was different than I had expected. I was dressed in nice slacks and a dressy shirt, but everyone else there was dressed in jeans and t-shirts – even the girls. The only thing I had in common with everyone else was that we all left our shoes at the door; that’s what constituted a sock hop.
I contemplated leaving, not only because I felt out of place, but also because I grew up in an old fashioned home, and I didn’t feel comfortable dancing with girls who were dressed in pants, because when I did, I felt like I was dancing with another boy.
But the fact that there were lots of refreshments enticed me to stay for at least a little while. I was sitting in a corner, trying not to look too conspicuous, eating cookies and drinking punch all by myself, when three girls walked in.
They stood out, because, like me, they were overdressed – mainly because they were wearing dresses. After they staked out a place on the side of the gym, I noted that they were not getting any invitations to dance. It seems that the other boys, wearing jeans and t-shirts, felt awkward asking them. I watched the girls for quite a while, and seeing their lack of dance invitations, and knowing I was dressed more formally, my courage increased. Besides, I realized that one of them was the young lady that had been announced as the new church choir director, and I already knew her name was Donna.
I finished my punch and cookies, took a deep breath, summoned every ounce of courage I had, and asked her to dance. She smiled at me, and accepted. The night wasn’t that far along, so I was able to choke back my fear and ask a couple more times. When the last dance was announced, I once again gathered my courage and asked her. By the time we parted, she had invited me to stay after choir and walk her home so I would know where she lived. I was ecstatic.
The next day, waiting for choir practice to begin, I noted that the choir had grown from about 40 girls and three boys to about 40 girls and 50 boys. There’s nothing like putting in a pretty choir director for motivation. When Donna walked in, she saw me and smiled, saying hi and calling me by name. My friend’s jaw about hit the ground. “Do you know her?”
“Oh, I would have to say, yes,” I answered nonchalantly.
After choir was over, a huge group of boys gathered around her. I felt discouraged, feeling there was no way she would actually want me to walk her home when there were so many others. I slipped out, but I had no sooner done so than I remembered how it had been her that had invited me for the walk. That gave me courage, and I returned just in time to hear another boy ask her if he could walk her home. I saw her look around, and when she finally spotted me, she smiled. “No, sorry, I am already walking home with someone.”
And this week, as we are celebrating our 26th anniversary, I can definitely say that I have enjoyed our walk through life together, and especially the memory of a sock hop where we were both somewhat out of place, giving me the courage I needed.