by Debi Hall

There is an ice blue silver metallic cord that weaves itself through the background of the tapestry of my life – and its name is Scott Blankenship. In the 7th grade, Scott was a dork. I sat behind him in science class and had to look at that scrawny white neck and burr haircut all year long. He was…nondescript.

In fact, Scott Blankenship was not even popular enough to be in a slam book. Slam books were notebooks passed around school with student names written in them for other students to post comments and gossip. It was like My Space with stick figures to represent crucial body parts rather than jpegs. The goal of slam books was to have your name in all of them, a few pictures of your boobs and expletives about what a hot catch you were. Even my name was in a few slam books. Nothing bad was ever written or drawn about me – nothing much was written about me at all. Except the October book of my 8th grade year where 6 slam books revealed that I was the only girl at West Mid High without a date to the cheerleader’s dance. I was mortified. Subsequent books reveled that Brenda Dyker had broken up with John Skillman, the richest and most popular boy in school. And so it was, by pathetic default, that I went to the cheerleader’s dance with John Skillman.

My mother made me wear a jaundice yellow sack dress with a white daisy collar that my great Aunt Fannie would probably have found attractive. My hair was just awful because of course it was raining, two fingernails broke at 7pm, and I was a nervous wreck.

Once at the dance, John quickly joined his buddies to spike the punch bowl and left me alone – standing in the middle of the ballroom. As I stood there in a frozen fog of humiliation, I saw Scott Blankenship across the room. Over the summer he had miraculously grown 3 inches and had filled out nicely. His hair had lengthened out to a shoulder length dark ash blonde. I couldn’t breathe. He walked toward me and I tugged at the hem of my hideous dress. He was going to rescue me. He got closer. My knees locked. He looked right through me and joined Brenda Dyker, who had come to the dance alone just to show John who was boss. Scott and Brenda became the new item.

In 9th grade, my other wallflower friends and I went to the WKY sockhop at the Bowie County YMCA gymnasium. Everyone was there! We all had to dance on the wood floor in our socks, and as I sat on the bleachers feeling awkward and rejected, I wondered why I continually subjected myself to these seventh circle of hell social events.

At one point, the inevitable mirror ball moment arrived and slow music pierced the air with “Precious and few are the moments we two can share.” My nerdy friends and I raced to the bleachers before all the love couples took to the floor. Brenda Dyker, now the girlfriend of Kenny McCade, sat nearby. Kenny was outside drinking with his guys and Brenda was livid. We spoke not a word as the melody played in the dimly lit, star sparkled gymnasium. I waited patiently in the shadows for the song to end. Finally it was over! I got up to move to a safe area when another slow song started. And, naturally it was my favorite song of all time: Crystal Blue Persuasion! Lord God, would this torture never end!

As couples joined, I saw Scott Blankenship crossing the room. By now, he was 6 feet tall, handsome beyond all imagination and, although I had no idea who he was as a human being, nothing of his soul, his integrity or spirit, the vision of him crossing the dance floor in tight jeans and a madras shirt, perfect hair and sparkling indigo eyes – he became the love of my life. Of course I expected him to ask Brenda to dance.

I didn’t hear him the first time he said to me “Hey Debster, wanna dance?” I didn’t think he knew my name. Again, the new deep masculine southern drawl said, “Debi, come on, let’s dance.” Coming to consciousness I supposed this to be a clear ploy to make Brenda jealous. But, as I looked to my left, Brenda was gone. It was me! He was asking me to dance. As Tommy James and the Shondells sang those gorgeous lyrics, I was transposed to a new dimension. We danced under the electric stars, and at one point, Scott looked down at me, smiled and simply said, “Debster.” Well I thought I’d die.

By the end of the evening, Kenny was passed out in his brand new red mustang and Scott and Brenda were making out under the scoreboard. But I didn’t care. For once it had been my turn to dance with the handsome prince. For once, it had been me!

Cut to our 25th class reunion. Folks age differently don’t they. By the time we were 43, nobody looked the same. Stunning athletes were now bald with beer bellies. The most likely boy to succeed was in his second marriage and third failed business. Yes, everyone had changed – except Scott Blankenship. Handsome as ever and still running the lucrative family business.

I certainly had changed. Some girls had grown up to be pleasant, middle aged women with wrinkles and bulges, dull neglected hair, and sensible shoes. I had shed the braces, the adolescent pounds, the over processed hair and, at the reunion, I looked fabulous!

And Scott pounced on me like a duck on a junebug. “Hey Debster” he shouted and sailed across the room to me with outstretched arms, hugging me like a long lost love. “Why Scott,” I smiled, “I haven’t talked to you since the 9th grade!’ He sloughed off the comment and said “Jesus Christ, Debster, did you seen Brenda Dyker? She looks like she’s had ten kids. I mean she was always easy, but who’d have guessed she’d turn out to be a breeder. And did you know John Skillman filed bankruptcy? And Kenny just got out of rehab and there he is drinking again.” I was stunned. Would I like to take a walk at the duckpond? I asked what the person who was invested in his wedding ring would think of that, and he “confided” in me that she didn’t understand him but he couldn’t leave her because she’d take all his fortune and the kids. Having affairs was just easier and a lot more fun.

These were the insides of the beautiful boy on the dance floor. This was the character of my dreamboat from 9th grade. Suddenly, he didn’t look so shiny and his blue eyes looked cold and calculated. I declined his invitation and, just as I was about to walk away, for old times sake, the dj played Crystal Blue Persuasion. Scott took my arm, turned in to me and we danced. I was shocked at how different the experience was. The song was pretty, and he smelled like expensive after shave and grinned with perfect teeth, and I felt…nothing. At the end of the song, he looked down at me with sociopathic charming sincerity and said “Debster, ya know, it could have been you.” I smiled at him and whispered in his ear “Thank God it was her.” And I turned my back to him and placed him and the slam book memories of junior high safely in the distant landscape of the fabric of my life.