Freshman year, this new kid named Sam joined our grade. After my first class of the day, I saw my brother and was all, “We have this new kid. His name is Sam and he seems pretty cool and talks like Sam Weir when Sam Weir says ‘Hey, Cindy.’” And my brother was all, “I know, I saw him first.” Then I probably said something along the lines of, “No, I did. I’m going to class.”

For me, he was just one of the dozens of people I’ve met whom I’ve always wanted to be friends with, but never actually got to talk to that much. With those people, I generally just admire from afar, wondering what we’d do if we were friends. He hung out with my older brother, though, and I remember riding around our neighborhood on scooters and going to the park one or two times. One night, he disappeared for about 15 minutes. Just as we were starting to wonder where he went, he returned with DELICIOUS CUPCAKES that people had been passing out from a FREE CUPCAKE bus. Basically, I only have cupcake- and scooter-related memories of this kid. Both good things.

Two years later, Sam moved far, far away. The last time I talked to him was over Facebook chat. He told me that the best part of moving to North Carolina was that the tap water tasted better.

Well, anyway, a few nights before prom, Sam called this dude, the one who told my friends he was going to ask me to prom but changed his mind (hereafter known as Flakeasaurus Rex—but no hard feelings, seriously). Sam said he was coming to town on Saturday for his spring break. Flakeasaurus was all, “OMG, you should come to prom with us.” So Sam and Flakeasaurus talked to my friend Alexa about it, and Alexa called me, and then Sam called me, AND THEN IT WAS AGREED UPON THAT WE SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE FREAKY HIGH SCHOOL RITUAL THAT IS PROM.

I guess I was kind of nervous at first. Our conversation on the phone was pretty painful because of me. There were many pauses. Also, I asked what happens at dances, to which he replied, “Well, we’ll probably take pictures with a group and go to dinner afterwards. Then we’ll go to the dance. That’s pretty much what happens.” No shit, Katherine. I thought the whole night was going to be me asking stupid questions like that and him having to endure them knowing that I cannot hold an entire conversation with a peer without freaking out and shouting things like, “Just leave me alone” or “Why do you want to know what I did last weekend, are you making fun of me?”

While we were taking pictures, Sam, Flakeasaurus, and I were talking, and Sam told us that he was wearing his running shorts underneath his suit. He told us about moisture wicking and how it prevents him from sweating too much. He added that he forgot to wear an undershirt, so he guessed he might sweat through his shirt a little. He said something along the lines of, “I just wanted to brief you on how my perspiration was going to be throughout the night.” That made me not-so-nervous. We could talk about perspiration. It was going to be OK.

And it was OK. In fact, it was great. It was great because Sam is great. It was great because I didn’t assign any extra meaning to it like I do with everything else. I just went and forgot about feeling like a loner, and forgot about having to be all cynical around my peers, and just allowed myself to feel like this was a good thing. In a weird way, going to prom helped me move on from thinking that going would be a sign of approval from my peers and feeling like it was just this stupid little dance that no one would shut up about. Because it’s neither of those things. It’s just something that’s there if you want to go but isn’t essential. We had fun. We dressed up and danced and went to bed just before the sun came up. By that time I was tired from laughing and smiling and dancing and BEIN’ A TEEEEEEEEEN. ♦