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A Reluctant West Point Prince on Prom Night - NYTimes.com


Stashed in: Military!, Young Americans

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A few minutes later, knowing none of this, I walked out of the bathroom naked except for the tiny hotel towel wrapped around my waist, expecting to find my pals ready for a night on the town. Instead I discovered the tearful girls from Seton Hall. They rapidly made the same pitch to me before I had a chance to get into my civvies and split.

I have to admit that my initial response was similar to that of my pals, but my heart strings were stretched when one of the girls told me more about the dance. Their prom was a girls-ask-the-boys occasion and this was the biggest deal of their whole year. Their jilted friend had saved her money for her dress and shoes and expensive tickets, had asked her favorite guy, who had accepted, and now this Princeton bum had stood her up.

I stood there in my hotel towel trying without success to suppress the memory of a day back in junior high when I was less than gentlemanly at a somewhat similar event. There was a Sadie Hawkins dance at school, a girl had called and invited me and I broke the rules by turning her down, waiting for a prettier girl on whom I had a crush to call. Listening to my prevarications from the kitchen my mother intuited my crime. She yanked me by the short hairs back to the phone and told me to call the girl and apologize and tell her that I would be delighted to be her date. I did. We had a great time and went on to have a great friendship. Suddenly it was all fresh in my mind, and so was my guilt about the way I had acted. Being a guy was hard, Mom told me, but I had to understand that being a girl was harder.

“You’ve got me,” I told the girls. “Where do I go?”

"Quickly executing a strategic retreat in force — we were expertly trained in such maneuvers, after all — they apologized profusely, explaining that they already had plans. But the girls were in luck, because there was another cadet still in the bathroom and they were sure he was free. They should ask him, they said, and out the door they fled."

So much for never leaving a man behind, huh? Smirk!

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