|Trial and Error
Author: Mirror of Remembrance PM
Prom. Such a wonderfully frustrating and stressful time. If you can even find a date to it in the first place that is. Which Phin, unfortunately, is having more than a little trouble with...Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Humor - Words: 2,740 - Published: 07-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3043148
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Just a little something I wrote for a creative writing class. Also based a little bit on my experience with prom date searching. You know what they say, eighth time is the charm. But, in all seriousness it was fine. The first seven were all good friends of mine who already had dates. I didn't get any outright, "no" rejections fortunately. Anyway, enjoy.
Phin peeked his head around the doorway and caught a blur of blonde hair before he quickly retracted his head. He took a deep breath. He could do this. What did he really have to lose at this point? After attempting to comb his messy black hair with his hand a few times, he entered the room. Sara was leaning against the wall, talking to a few of her friends. Phin walked over to her, and she turned and looked at him curiously. Phin smiled nervously and hoped for the best.
"Hey Sara, could I talk to you for a minute?" Sara looked at her friends for a moment before nodding.
"Sure." They walked a short distance before she turned to face him. "What's up?" Phin stuffed his hands into his pockets and looked her in the eye.
"I was wondering if you had any plans for prom." Sara frowned, and Phin could already tell what was coming. He had seen the signs many times before. First there was the biting of the lower lip, followed by the widening of the eyes, glancing from side to side before fixing her gaze on him, and the clasping of her hands.
"Oh, I'm really sorry, Phin," Sara said, and she did seem sincere, "but I already-"
"Have a date," Phin finished for her. She smiled ruefully.
"Yeah." Phin let out a sigh and ran his hand through his hair and shook his head.
"It's fine. Don't worry about it." Really, what else he had been expecting? The whole endeavor had been an exercise in futility.
"If you had asked me earlier..." Sara tried to intone with a light tone. Yes. That was always the case. If you had asked me earlier... How early would that be exactly? Phin wondered. He had thought he started asking relatively early: January. But apparently along with picking out wedding cake, every girl in the school had decided upon their prom date by September. Phin turned back to Sara and attempted to smile, but it came out paltry and weak.
"He's a lucky guy then, whoever asked you." Sara nodded a little uncomfortably.
"He's a really nice guy." They both stood there for awkwardly for a moment before Phin decided to do both of them a favor and mercifully finished the conversation with a mumbled, "See you in calculus." Phin then left the room and slowly made his way to his locker before spinning the dial three times absent mindedly. He opened the door and reached for a notebook. His hand grabbed the edge of its cardboard like cover, but the rest remained elusive. The notebook ended up falling to the ground. Phin uttered several choice words under his breath as he bent down to pick it up, pausing as he noticed several neon squares of confetti spilling out of it. He picked up a blue piece and rubbed the bit of plastic between thumb and index finger. That was from an earlier and more elaborate attempt.
Phin shrugged his heavy coat off as he stuffed it into his locker, keeping one eye towards the end of the hall. He glanced down at his watch. She should be here any minute. At last his patience was rewarded. Holly Collinger stepped through the door and took off her hat, brushing the snow from it. Phin took a deep breath and shut his locker door. This was it. He attempted to casually make his way over to Holly's vicinity, nodding to several people along the way. He stopped by the water fountain and noticed his friend Nate texting on his phone. Nate glanced over at him.
"Is today the day?" he asked as he gestured to Holly setting her bag down on the ground and reaching for her locker dial. Phin nodded.
"Yep. Wish me luck." Nate shrugged.
"You'll be fine. If there's one way to a girl's heart, it's an extravagant public display."
Holly entered the last number of her combination and opened her locker. Phin stepped forward as a shower of confetti fell onto Holly and a piece of cloth unfurled from the top of the locker with the large word of: Prom?, written on it. Holly slowly turned around and blinked several times rapidly her face turning bright red. Phin grinned at her hopefully as everyone in the hallway stopped what they were doing and stared at the two of them.
"So Holly, how about it?" Holly glanced around at everyone staring at her and opened her mouth, but closed it just as quickly, as if she were having trouble finding words. Phin started to get a slightly uneasy feeling; people began to whisper loudly. "Um... Holly?" Holly picked up her bag and hurled it at Phin as hard as she could. He doubled over as she tore down the banner.
"You inconsiderate, self-absorbed, son of a...! In front of everyone! I've never been so embarrassed in my life!" Phin slowly got up and backed away slowly as she shoveled the remaining confetti out of her locker. Nate hissed in sympathy, but not before he whipped out his phone and took a picture of the scene before him. Phin then left quickly as he could as laughter began to fill the hall.
Phin sat down at his lunch table and dropped his bagged lunch onto the table. Nate and Izzy looked up at him. Phin looked down and methodically took out his lunch.
"I take it didn't go well?" Izzy asked as Phin began to mechanically chew his sandwich.
"Pretty much, yeah." He told her. Nate laughed.
"It couldn't have been bad as the time you asked Holly. I still have that picture. " Phin snorted.
"Compared to that, I'd say that this was a success. She already has a date."
"Who?" asked Izzy curiously. Phin shook his head.
"I didn't ask; she didn't say." Nate frowned as he opened his bag of potato chips and set them on the table. Phin chose one and popped it into his mouth.
"Do you think maybe Sara didn't already have a date and that she was just too nice to outright reject you?" Phin froze as he considered the possibility. The longer he dwelled on it, the more likely it seemed that was the case. He looked up at Nate and grimaced.
"Thanks Nate. You always know how to make me feel better," Phin told him sarcastically.
"Anytime, Phineas me boy. If only going alone to prom wasn't social suicide." Izzy swatted Nate on the arm.
"Nate! Not helping." Nate shrugged.
"It's not my fault Phin can't get a date. How many girls has it been, Phin? Ten? Thirteen?" It was actually fifteen Phin realized with dismay. After the incident with Holly, he decided to forgo the elaborate prom proposal process and to just go with the direct approach. He also adapted his tactics to asking the girl in question if she had any plans for prom as well. Indirectly asking made it less awkward for both him and the girl in question when she inevitably declined his implied offer.
"None of your business, Phin told him. "Too many for sure. Are you sure you two don't know anyone who still needs a date?" Nate and Izzy both shook their heads.
"Sorry, Phin," Nate said as he placed a hand on Izzy's shoulder. "You should have gone with the tried and true method of asking a friend." Izzy shrugged his hand off irritably and rolled her eyes.
"Not that that would do much good. I'm not exactly Mr. Social Butterfly." Phin put down his sandwich. He wasn't hungry anymore. He rubbed his eyes wearily. "I just won't go then."
"What?" exclaimed Izzy. "C'mon Phin, you don't mean that." He looked her in the eye.
"Do you know anyone that doesn't already have a date?" Izzy remained silent. "I thought so. The whole idea of a prom is stupid. It's just an excuse to put on a dress you'll never wear again or to rent a tux and to pretend that one night is important. It's not."
"It's supposed to be fun," Nate pointed out. Phin let out a weak laugh.
"Fun?" he asked incredulously. "You think it's fun to put yourself out there time after time only to be rejected? And once you've overcome that hurdle there's flowers, pictures, limos... I'm done with it." It was the worse; each successive failure made Phin even surer that there must be something wrong with him.
"I think you're just getting a little caught up in it, man," Nate said. Phin crumbled his lunch bag and tossed it into a nearby trash can before getting up.
"Easy for you to say. You already have a date." Phin left the two of them sitting there in silence.
Phin sighed as he shrugged on his gym uniform and walked out of the locker room and into the gymnasium. He eyed the racks of basketballs and groaned. Basketball. Great. The day kept getting better and better. He picked up a ball and halfheartedly dribbled it a few times. He raised his arm and shot the ball towards a nearby hoop. It bounced off the rather hard and flew off into the air. Phin was turning away when he heard a clud and a grunt of pain. He turned around to find Claire rubbing her head and glaring at him, the basketball held in her free hand. Phin shrugged sheepishly.
"Sorry Claire. I didn't see you." She tossed the basketball at Phin so hard that he was just barely able to catch it, though it did knock the wind out of him.
"I'd hope so. You can't go through life knocking people on the head. Someone's going to stop you at some point." The two of them joined the rest of the class and begin to do some warm up exercises. Phin and Claire passed the ball back and forth, but Phin was having trouble paying attention. Claire seemed to notice this, so she sent him a particularly hard bounce pass that hit him in the head.
"Ouch!" Phin exclaimed as he went after the rolling ball. Claire merely smiled at him.
"Now we're even." She said.
"I guess," Phin grumbled as he passed the ball to her.
"Something on your mind, Phin?" Phin looked up at her in surprise.
"What makes you say that?" he said evasively.
"You're not good at sports, but you usually pay attention enough not to get hurt. So… Penny for your thoughts?" Claire threw the basketball and he caught the rubber ball gingerly. He looked down at all the tiny little rubber dots. He had known Claire for a few years now, ever since eighth grade when she had joined band class.
"It's just all this prom bullshit," Phin said after a few moments of thinking. "I'm just tired of everyone making it out to be the end all be all thing." Phin threw the basketball to her overhand. Claire caught it and began to spin it on her finger.
"Yep. People make it out to be such a big deal. It's just one night. Some people treat it like marriage, especially with all those over the top ways of asking someone." Phin coughed uncomfortably and shifted his weight from foot to foot.
"Yeah, who would do something like that?" Phin and Claire walked towards a basket to do a few layups.
"So who are you going with?" Claire asked as she missed the basket and Phin caught the rebound.
"I don't have a date," Phin said lamely. Claire paused.
"Oh. I thought when you said that you sick of prom it was because your date was giving you a hard time about something." Phin shook his head as he took a step backward to take a shot at the basket.
"I'm sick of it for a different reason," he said as he shot the ball. The ball bounced off the backboard, rolled around the rim, before falling to the ground. Phin walked over to it slowly before picking it up and dribbling it. Claire walked over to him and put on a hand on his shoulder.
"Cheer up," she told him. "It's just a shallow excuse to get dressed up, get drunk, and have sex. It's not meaningful or anything." Phin shrugged off her hand.
"Easy for you," he told her. "I'm sure you already have a date."
"Actually, I don't have a date." Claire admitted. Phin looked at her confused.
"Someone has to have asked you," he said incredulously. Claire shrugged.
"A few people actually, but I turned them down." Phin placed the basketball on the ground.
"Waiting for someone special then?" Claire shook her head.
"No. I'm just not going." Phin looked at her dumbfounded for several moments. A girl not going to prom? That was crazy. They were supposed to love this kind of thing. "I'm just going to hang out with a few of my friends that night," Claire continued as if nothing was amiss. "Maybe see a movie or something." Claire frowned at the look Phin was giving her. "What's wrong? Have I grown a second head?" Phin nodded.
"And you might want to get both of them checked. I never thought I meet a girl who didn't want to go to prom."
"Well," Claire said as she picked up the ball and brought it over to one of the racks, "You just did. Something is only important if you make it important. You shouldn't let others control what you think is worthwhile or important. Where's the fun in that?" Phin nodded slowly as he mulled over her words.
"I guess you have a point," he slowly admitted. Claire grinned and tussled his hair much to his annoyance. (She knew he hated that)
"Good. Now get your head out of the clouds. They're picking teams. If we don't hurry, I might get stuck with you." Phin gave a small smile.
"Heaven forbid that."
Half an hour later Phin was panting and covered in sweat as the game ended. He changed out his clothes and left the locker room. He groped around for his water bottle and drank greedily from it. Claire slapped him on the back and he choked and sputtered on his water, drenching his shirt.
"Careful Phin, drink too much water too quickly, and you'll get sick." Phin grimaced at her.
"I think that's the least of my problems, what with choking and all." Claire smiled and turned away.
"You'll get over it." Phin watched her walk away for several moments before calling after her.
"Claire. Wait up!" Claire slowed down as Phin walked beside her.
"I was wondering if… well maybe if you had room one more at this… not-prom thing of yours?" Claire paused for a moment to consider.
"Well, it's pretty exclusive. I'd have to pull a few strings, ruffle a few feathers," Claire said jokingly, "but I think I can squeeze you in."
"Thanks, Claire. I appreciate it."
"No problem." Phin waved goodbye and went to his next class in a much better mood than he had entered the last. Phin slid into his seat next to Nate. Nate turned to him.
"Look, Phin, I'm sorry about lunch, but I've been wracking my mind, and I think I've come up with a few possible dates… Alright, so Gretchen just got back from juvenile-"
"Nate, it's fine. I don't need a date anymore." Nate paused in mid-speech, confused.
"Something happen?" Phin shook his head.
"No. I… just got a new perspective, that's all." Nate still looked a little confused, but he shrugged his shoulders.
"Whatever. I don't think you and Gretchen would have been good together anyway. After all she stabbed the last guy she dated with-" Phin tuned him out. Strange how just a few hours ago he had been obsessed with finding a date, and now he was fine with not going at all. You really were your own worst enemy when it came to your happiness.