The World’s Most Burned-Out Middle School Defensive End morphed into the World’s Most Disappointed Middle School Halloween Dance Attendee last night.
And now he’s climbing into the car after the dance.
Me: “So how was it?”
Having attended my share of Stupid Middle School Dances — two to be exact — I stifled the Knowing Chuckle. And I resisted the urge to explain that Stupid Middle School Dances are a right of passage for Riley men.
Me 1, Parenting 0.
Me: “Why was it stupid?”
Even though I already knew the answer to that question.
Him: “Oh, there had to be about 25 chaperones there, for only about 50 kids. And the sixth graders were annoying, as usual.”
Okay, I can’t stifle that chuckle. Ain’t nothing like some helicopter parents and a few socially awkward 12-year-olds to ruin a night. Somebody’s gotta do it. And when I say somebody, I mean somebody other than me. It’s been 19 years of raising boys — I think I’ve earned a night off.
Plus, I had already seen the dozens of emails flying back and forth between all the parents. “No masks, no weapons, no trench coats, no cell phones, no … ” I didn’t need to show up and see an Ebola checkpoint. I’m just happy nobody had to be told to not rent limos.
Me: “It’s sixth-graders’ duties to be annoying. Besides, remember, you were one once.”
Him: “Not an annoying one!”
Me: (Resisting the urge to explain that even I found him annoying at times when he was 12.)
Me 2, Parenting 0.
Him: “Oh, and you were supposed to sign me in.”
Me: “I was?”
Him: “Yeah, and the lady seemed a kind of confused or maybe even a bit stunned that you just dropped me and left.”
Me: “She was? What did you tell her?”
Him: “That you dropped me and left.”
Him: “She said, let’s just wait a few minutes. So I said ‘Wait a few minutes for what?’ And she said ‘For your Dad.’ And I’m like ‘Ma’am, my Dad’s not coming back’ and she still seemed unable to grasp that.”
Me: “Probably more unwilling than unable. Those are tell-tale signs of PTSD. She probably spent a week creating her daughter’s costume, spent $300 for supplies, created that Uber Online Sign-up Snack List thing that I ignored when you said you absolutely would not be going, started that huge email string that I ignored when you said you absolutely would not be going, and also coded the sign-in app on the iPad she was using that I was now not standing in front of her signing in triplicate. Yet what was standing in front of her was you and that 5-year-old purple Kool-Aid t-shirt you’re trying to pass off as a costume. Explaining your Dad just pulled a Drop and Dash.”
Him: “Yeah, that was pretty much the look on her face. But she still insisted we wait 20 minutes. I waited about 3 and said, “Ma’am, I know my Dad: he’s NOT coming back.”
Me: “But you eventually got into the dance, right?”
Him: “After a few more minutes. And only after she took down your phone number.”
Me: “My phone number?”
Him: “Your phone number. Did you get a call?”
Me: (checking my phone) “I didn’t hear it ring. But then again, the bar was pretty loud.”
Me: “I had to stand there for 47 minutes waiting for the burned cheeseburgers I was taking back home while 3-year-olds participated in a costume contest by the beer kegs. Yeah, welcome to the South. But no, no calls here on my phone.”
Him: “Well, she finally just decided to just let me in.”
Me: “Yeah, probably just called the cops instead. Technically, I’m probably a wanted felon right now.”
Him: “Well, at least they had pizza. Really crappy pizza, but pizza.”
Me 2, Parenting 7.
Earlier in the evening, his mother — who had chaperoned more than her fair share of terrible Catholic school dances in her time as a Catholic school employee — had left him with these lasting words of advice as he was preparing to walk out the door: “Hey, remember: when you’re slow-dancing with all those girls tonight, ‘Leave room for Jesus!’ between the two of you.”
Him: (The mother of all eye rolls) “Good one, Mom.”
Me: (Water through the nose)
Mom 17, Parenting 0.
Meanwhile, back in the car on the drive home …
Me: “Well, were there at least any good costumes?”
Him: (Breaking into a laugh) “Yeah, probably the most depressed guy EVER, some parent chaperone dressed as a pirate who just looked miserable.”
Me: (Laughing) “Yeah, I’ve been that guy. Only not wearing a pirate costume. Your mother coerced me into helping her chaperone a high school dance a few years ago. I spent the entire evening lurking outside the mosh pit, making sure nobody was hip grinding. Probably the worst experience of my life.”
Him: “What’s hip grinding?”
Me: “Never mind. Let’s get you home.”