My Crush Took My Close Friend to Prom and It Broke My Heart
When my senior prom initially rolled around, I pretty much didn't think twice.
It was the very end of my four years in high school, and I had a major case of senioritis. While people in some of my classes were excitedly getting asked to the coveted dance in the most extravagant ways, I was busy planning what I'd wear to an underground warehouse party with friends from my rival high school on that same night.
Yeah, prom was the furthest thing from my mind… until it became the only thing I could think about.
Meet My Then-Crush
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of what changed, let me backtrack with an introduction to Joey*, a guy I met at the beginning of my senior year. He went to my rival high school and we met through friends. We shared a passion for music, and before I knew it, we were going to music-related events together every single weekend. It was a lot of fun.
But as life tends to have it, we frequently fall for our closest guy friends, and that can be great if they feel the same way—but if they don't reciprocate your romantic feelings, it can lead to disaster.
Joey quickly became my best guy friend that year and it was super refreshing to know that we shared similar sentiments when it came to school spirit—namely prom. I obviously found him to be quite handsome, but I liked not being able to picture him in a prom tux. He would never… or so I thought.
About six weeks before prom rolled around, I introduced Joey to my close friend Courtney*. As one of my classmates, Courtney always lent her ear to my endless discussion about my best guy friend-turned-crush. So when they finally met, it was them putting a face to a name. They got along fine, and I even encouraged them to exchange AOL Instant Messenger handles (yes, that was quite prominent in my HS years) so that we could all become friends and hang out. It was totally harmless and I legitimately thought nothing of it.
Six weeks came and went, and the three of us went on our merry ways without ever really mentioning the other. The great thing about this dynamic I had with Joey is that even though I knew he didn't share the same romantic feelings as I did about our friendship, we were able to go on just fine. We still hung out. We each briefly dated someone that year and everything was just really chill. But regardless of whatever, in the back of my mind, my feelings for him were strongly there.
The Lead-Up to My Downfall
The day I look back on as my most heart-wrenching high school moment began like any other. I was in a pretty good mood, excited for lunch break, when I plopped down into my five-person table in Foods class (not sure if that still exists, but yes, there was a graded class entirely devoted to cooking—it's where I heard the word "gluten" for the first time!). Courtney and I sat next to each other, and being quite social people, there was never a lack of conversation topic.
I don't recall exactly how one thing led to another, but somehow we got on the topic of prom. I said something like, "Yeah, I don't care about it at all. Are you still not going?" Courtney was on the same page as I was in the sense of not caring about school dances.
Courtney was friendly with the females in school, but she was totally that girl who mostly kicked it with the guys. She didn't date them, they were strictly good pals. But her guy friends were super hot and "popular" (I know, I know—that word—ugh), so when she mentioned to me a few weeks prior that she wanted to go with Joey (not my Joey, but the popular Joey a grade above us at our school), I couldn't blame her for uncharacteristically hoping to attend the oh-so-coveted dance.
After not much hesitation, Courtney casually mentioned she was going to prom with Joey.
"Oh, Joey Jacobsen?" I responded. I mean that was the obvious initial thought, given our previous conversations.
"Actually, no, Joey-Joey—your Joey," she said.
*insert jaw-drop here*
It took me a moment to process what she just said. Wait, what?!
"What do you mean? Wait, really?" I said, completely and utterly flustered with despair.
"I needed a date, it's not a big deal or anything," Courtney said.
"We need to talk about this," I said, making a beeline for the doorway. She followed me out and we walked downstairs to this part of campus where students would avoid going back to class, mid-bathroom break.
"I can't believe you would do this to me," I said, really trying to hold back tears. I was not one of those people who cried at school, and this was like the one time I was pushed to my limit.
I started walking to the bathroom and she followed me. I continued to wipe my now-red eyes. She hugged me. The rest was a blur. An awful, awful, miserable, heartbreaking blur.
I didn't care at all that Joey wasn't going with me to prom. I never saw that in the cards anyway. But going with Courtney? I never saw that in the cards! Joey was my best guy friend. He didn't even go to our school, for crying out loud, and now he was going to be going to my school's prom with my friend in the same group as this one girl I totally couldn't stand. Oh. my. god.
I somehow made it through the rest of the day, but when I got home, I totally sobbed. And rightfully so. It was the worst. As if I weren't already over stupid high school enough as it was, this really put me over the edge.
(Riverdale via The CW)
Welp, prom came and went. I still went to my previously scheduled warehouse party (with Joey's friends, in fact) and Joey and his new school-dance squad made their way to the big event (thank goodness there was no such thing as social media back then, because I can assure you I would not have been able to handle it).
Post-prom Monday rolled around, and engaging with Courtney was inevitable. I mean we sat next to each other, after all. I had to ask.
She kind of implied that they didn't have much chemistry and that going together seriously meant nothing at all. I quickly got over my animosity towards her. But I was still a bit torn up inside over Joey. Obviously this put a rift between us. I didn't talk to him for a few weeks until we reconnected through mutual friends when we all went to a music event together. He even slept over at my house (with some girlfriends, that is).
I stayed in touch with both Joey and Courtney (separately) for a couple of years to come (people do grow up after high school), but looking back on the whole experience, man, oh, man was that hard. Even though I can reflect now without flinching, I know that if the same thing were to go down (even knowing what I know) all these years later, I'd still be crushed.
Crushes, friendships, breakups and unrequited feelings are so freaking hard, and if you're going through any of it, know you're not alone. But emotional wounds, like physical ones, do heal over time, and even though you feel like there's no hope in that very moment of pain, trust me—soon, none of it will matter.
*Names have been changed
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