The Valentine’s Day dance was one of the biggest events of the year at our school. It was a girl’s choice prom and, in our era, girls seldom asked boys out. It was the one big chance of the year for a girl to appropriately take the initiative and not only plan a date the way she felt a date should be planned, but to also show a boy that she liked him. Most girls were very excited about this and went out of their way to make the invitation unique and memorable.
But there was one girl that didn’t seem to care about the Valentine’s Day dance at all. In fact she not only didn’t care, she loathed it. Darcie was a bright young lady in my chemistry class and she informed all of us that dating and everything to do with it was childish and far beneath her dignity. In fact she felt it was beneath the dignity of anyone of the female gender. Every time she saw a girl do something crazy, like decorate a boy’s locker, or embarrass some guy over the intercom, she seethed with contempt. “Boys,” she said, “are disgusting creatures and why a girl would waste her time and energy on one is incomprehensible.”
It might be easy to think that Darcie’s attitude was due to the fact that no boys ever asked her out. But I had spent a lot of time working with her in chemistry, and I knew she truly believed what she said. I realized she had never been on a date because she never chose to make herself desirable to a boy.
I suppose Darcie could actually be a pleasant looking girl, but she never fixed herself up nor did she care to. She truly believed that girls were superior to boys in every way and she was not about to lower herself to have any more association with them than she had to. More than once I felt she was just putting up with me when our assignments forced us to work with each other.
But then the cosmos turned upside down. Both Darcie and I were members of our scholastic team. We had a competition coming up against our biggest rival and we practiced hard. The day finally arrived and we bussed to the radio studio from which the meet would be broadcast. Both teams arrived a half hour early, as was custom, so we could get acquainted with each other. When Darcie was introduced to Alex, the other team’s captain, something strange happened. Cupid must have unloaded his whole quiver on her because suddenly she couldn’t even speak. She babbled in incoherent nothingness as if her brain had turned to mush.
The meet started and Darcie was less than worthless to us. She kept her eyes on Alex the whole time. She only answered a couple of questions, and both of those she got wrong, losing us points. Her answers were so far off that Brent, another team member, leaned over to me and said, “Earth to Darcie. Earth to Darcie. Come in please.” But her ship was deep in space, far from our galaxy, and nowhere near docking.
She didn’t even wait until after the competition was over to ask him to the preference dance, but did it at intermission - right in front of everyone. A person doesn’t ask the competing team captain to preference, and especially not at intermission in front of everyone. But he said yes, and from then on our team was really down to three members instead of four. She didn’t even try to answer a question in the second half. But she still cost us some points when she dreamily leaned against her buzzer and didn’t even know what the question was let alone the answer. To make matters worse, every time Alex answered a question correctly, she giggled and embarrassed us. I kept trying to remind her we were on air, but she didn’t hear anything anyone said except Alex.
Well, we lost the meet. Am I upset about it? Of course not. That would be silly to still be upset after all of these years. I mean, why should I remember something as trivial as the fact the score ended 55 to 40 or that it was our first loss in an otherwise stellar season? Remembering things like that is ridiculous. I still have nightmares about it, but why would I be upset?
However, I do remember the teacher advisor being upset on the way home. “Darcie,” he exclaimed, “what happened to you? It’s like you weren’t even there. You didn’t even attempt questions I know you knew. Are you sick or something?”
Darcie didn’t answer, so he asked again. “Darcie, are you listening to me?”
Darcie looked up, a dazed expression on her face. “Were you talking to me?”
The teacher let out an exasperated sigh and spoke sarcastically. “No, of course not! I was talking to some other Darcie on our team!”
“Oh, okay then,” she answered, and turned her glazed eyes to look back out the window.
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com)