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Rated: E · Essay · Inspirational · #1944197
The past can haunt you even when it shouldn't
1980. I was 12 years old, seventh-grade. It's that awkward time of life, your body is going through changes, you begin noticing things. And I had just noticed girls; I noticed their bodies too were changing.

Middle schools in the 80s tried to prepare you for social functions you might find in high school, so we had a seventh-grade hop approaching. And I asked this girl, the prettiest girl in the school, to go with me to the hop.

Now I don't know what possessed me to ask her, as I said my body was fast-changing, seemingly it sometimes couldn't even keep up to itself, I was tall for my age and gangling. And she was the prettiest girl in school. Her parents were well-off and my family barely making it.

But something in me made me ask. Some people might say the worst thing that could have happened was to blurt something like that out in front of the whole class.

However, there was one thing worse.

She laughed at me in front of the whole class.

I was embarrassed to say the least. And I went from being a shy guy into a complete introvert, a loner.

It had a lasting effect on me. To this day, 31 years later I've never asked another girl out for more than just coffee.

Not that I haven't had an interesting life, I've been married a few times. I have seven children. And there have been some moments of my life that were too interesting. But those moments are for another time or two.

Now let's fast-forward 16 years, to an event that helped me build a little self-confidence. But I guess I should explain how this event came about.

The summer after she laughed at me I got a job working in a dry cleaners. I started out as the lowest number on the totem pole cleaning carpets, suedes, and leathers. But I worked there until 1998. And in that time I learned the business, from cleaning the clothes to pressing them, I learned how to care for not only carpets but also silk and rayon garments, I learned how to you clean, press and preserve wedding dresses, I kept up on new styles, clothing, fashion.

To learn about the most up-to-date fashions, material and accessories I started going to fashion shows. You can find anything and everything at these shows, there were times I couldn't understand the styles, some I couldn't even understand how anyone would want to wear them. But my personal tastes aside these were going to be the new styles and new materials that I would have to learn how to care for.

I don't know if you've ever attended a premiere, could be a movie premiere, new music premiere, or the premiere of new fashions, for the select few after each one of these premieres a party is thrown. If you attend enough premieres your name does make the circuit and from time to time you will receive an invitation to one of these after show parties, which, I discovered, was just another way for them to kiss whoever's ass it is they are trying to impress. But while many of them can be boring and not worth it sometimes something happens which makes you happy that you went, so you continue going as long as you receive an invitation.

Now you have the lead-up, I can tell you about the event. Like I said 1996, I went to New York City for one of these fashion shows, and that was the night I received an invitation for an after show party. I can't tell you much about the show, I don't remember any of it so there must not have been anything spectacular, but I've never forgotten the party.

Unlike most people at these parties all I drink is beer. I took a beer and found this cozy corner couch set up that it just been vacated. I was sitting there listening to the conversations, looking at the new styles comparing them to the old, when this little blonde walked up and asked if I minded her joining me. I told her to feel free to sit down and we talked.

I don't really remember what we talked about, we probably mentioned something about the fashions, maybe about happenings in the world, but I really don't know.

We sat there for an hour and periodically someone would walk up to say something to her and she would respond but didn't get up and went back to talking to me.

After about an hour she said "You don't know who I am, do you?"

I admitted that no, I didn't and she asked me what kind of music I listen to. I told her I usually listen to country to which she asked me if I'd ever heard of the song Don't Speak and I said no but I could look it up tomorrow.

She stood up and smiled and as she turned to walk away she said, "I'm Gwen."

I didn't see her again that night or ever. But I did look it up the next day like I said I would and I found out who Gwen was. I like to think she took her time talking to me because I treated her like a normal person. I would also like to think, that even knowing who she was I would not have treated her different.

That night helped me gain confidence in myself. It helped me put that laugh into perspective, Laura was just a little girl and I should not have let it control so much of my life. Though I still haven't asked women out from that night on wasn't afraid to talk to them.
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