Pinch me [ 2005-07-06, 1:11 a.m. ]

How many of you actually went to your prom? Well, I didn't. What makes me talk about this at my age? I just read the recap of The Prom episode from Buffy's third season and it's really a weeper. Excellent episode.

But it also got me to thinking about the fact that I never went to my junior or senior prom. It doesn't mean much now and to be honest, it didn't mean a whole lot to me then. Not that I was oblivious or that I wasn't secretly hoping I'd be asked. But when one doesn't haven't a boyfriend, the chances go down that you're going. Luckily in my junior year, I had Kathy to pal around with on that night. And we noticed something interesting in our travels that evening. A lot of the "popular" kids didn't go either. Whether from lack of dates or money or not caring, who knows? But we did have fun. We cruised around that night, in her car, if I'm remembering right. Laughing and listening to music. Stopping at the Hardee's on Brambleton Ave. That's when I lived in Roanoke,VA. We went to C@vespring High School which was a pretty good school. Big but not too big. Mostly middle-class kids went there. So anyway, we're driving around and we came up with this silly chant that we still sing today "It's 2 o'clock in the morning and we're wasting gas. Just want to pick up Todd ____'s ass." Yes, it was funny to us then and it's still funny today.

What would I have done without my friends in high school? So many things happened to me in senior year that I am eternally grateful for those fun times I had during junior year and the summer after it. Way back in 1983. Senior year started out great. I could drive the car to school and I picked up about 4 or 5 people sometimes. Then in October, I think, there was a fire in the house. I was making some french fries on the oven the old-fashioned way. We didn't have a fry-daddy kind of thing where it regulates the temp. of the oil. You'd put the potatoes in oil on top of the stove and have to watch the temperature yourself. Stupidly, I put some on and went downstairs and fell asleep. Next thing I know my mom is waking me up and there's smoke and she's trying to call 911 but then the phone went dead. My dad is trying to use a hose to put out the fire but without success. We went outside and a firetruck came quickly and managed to put it out. Just the kitchen was burned up,the rest of the upstairs had smoke damage.

That night has weighed on my mind ever since. The guilt. The fact that our cat didn't get out in time. And I found her. That broke my heart.

About a month or so later, my parents and I ended up having to leave town because of all the money that my dad owed because of his failed company. He couldn't pay these taxes then the rent then the car payments. So basically we left in the dead of night. Ended up living with my sister,Mandy,and her husband at the time and their first child,Buck, here in Charlotte. Been here ever since.

So you can imagine that even though I would've liked to have gone to the prom in my senior year, having to change schools halfway through didn't help. I'd been going to school with all those people from C@vespring since 6th grade. I missed them terribly. I think my whole life since has been trying to catch up since that time. I've never been good at facing reality because of it. It would be one thing after another and I just didn't want to know anymore. It took years and years for my parents to recover financially. And now I'm going to the courthouse tomorrow to finalize my bankruptcy. A fresh start. God, do I need one.

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Ryan Adams