As I promised last week, I want to write a little story about Dana who had a short appearance in my recent novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. For those of you who have read the book, I feel I never really developed Dana as I might have, so here is her backstory. For those who haven’t yet read it, this should stand alone and will give you better insight when you do read it, which I know you will. Please bear with any typos or mis-spelling as I am self editing but will do the best I can. I will try to get an update at least once a week. So here goes:
Dana’s Story, Part 1
I grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa. My father worked for the Iowa Republican Party, my mother was a housewife and social organizer for the many Party events and fund raisers. Both were very conservative and I was brought up in their shadow. My time in school was spent studying, getting good grades and not much else . . . no sports, extra-curricular activities, and hardly any social life, all of which my parents thought were a waste of time. My girl friends were like me, bookworms, none of us at all popular, the four of us hung out with ourselves. Boys were a complete enigma to all of us.
At the end of my senior year in high school, much to my surprise, a guy asked me to the senior prom. He wasn’t one of the popular guys for sure, not very good looking, tall, skinny, and unruly red hair. I was hesitant but reluctantly agreed to go with him. My mother was surprisingly thrilled and took me shopping for a dress, shoes, and a new hair styling, different from my usual boring pony tail. When I got dressed the night of the prom, I looked in the mirror and was amazed that I actually looked pretty. My father looked over his glasses when I came into the living room where he was reading, acknowledging that I looked, ‘proper’. My mother thought I looked ‘nice’.
The guy, Billy Callahan, picked me up and handed me a nondescript corsage, letting me try to pin it on myself, then acted clumsy and embarrassed when he came in to meet my parents. I thought I smelled beer on his breath. He walked ahead me on the way to the car, not saying anything, not even that I looked nice. I saw he was with one of his friends and his date when he opened the door to the backseat. We got in and Billy handed me a beer, which I refused so he kept it and drank it along with the one he already had open. I guessed all three of them had already been drinking, They were talking loud, laughing and joking, the radio blaring some rock music. I hadn’t ever drank alcohol before. I didn’t know what to do or how to act, this all made me feel nervous and afraid, so I tightened up my seatbelt and sat with my hands in my lap, fiddling nervously with my fingers, eyes downcast. It was horrible. I felt trapped, terribly small and out of place, realizing I had made a huge mistake, wanting to go back home before the night had even begun.
Neither of us had said more than a few words to each other on the way. It got worse when we got to the dance. I didn’t know how to dance very well and was very self conscious. Finally after trying a few dances, Billy finally got frustrated, told me I was a pathetic loser and to get away from him, turned his back to me and walked away, leaving me stunned, in the middle of the dance floor. Everyone around us heard him and started to laugh. He went over and talked to his friends who all began staring at me and laughing. I just stood there, stunned, not knowing what to do, finally walking off the floor through a crowd of dancers, all looking and laughing at me. I hung my head, I thought I might throw up, tears were starting to well.
I went to the restroom and looked at myself in the mirror, trying to take deep breaths to calm myself, chastising myself for being so stupid to put myself into this position. Calmed down as best as I could, eyes dried, I went out to find my girlfriends, none of which had a date, and found them sitting by themselves in a corner. I told them what had happened and they were sympathetic, but I suspected that they wanted to say, “What were you thinking!”. They were bored so we all left before it was even 9:00. Thankfully my parents were out so I didn’t have to explain anything. I went to my room and ripped off my dress and threw it in a pile in the corner, fell onto my bed, sobbing into a pillow, hating myself for my stupidness and clumsiness. It occurred to me that I was probably a last chance choice for Billy Callahan’s prom date.
Thank god that there were only two awful weeks after the prom until graduation. Billy Callahan and his friends spread the word on what a dud I was. I became the laughing stock of the school. I didn’t even want to go to my graduation, but my parents insisted. I left immediately after the ceremony and skipped all of the few parties I was invited to. Billy Callahan was the last guy I went out with until I was in law school.
I graduated high school with honors, completed college in three years, graduating Magna Cum Laude. As in High School, I spent most of my time studying or at the library, skipping the social life of most undergrads. I was accepted into law school at The University of Iowa where I met Russell Henderson at a small party in my second year.