It was the night of our high school dance. As seniors, going “all out” was mandatory. There was no saying, “Next year’s dance will be better.” This was the dance we wanted to reflect on, hold on a pedestal forever, to be deemed the perfect night.
We danced with our hearts, leaving insecurities at the door. We danced while we glistened with sweat, smelled of sweet body odor, and with makeup that got restless just staying on the designated area. We danced to whistles, sirens, car horns, and most importantly to the notorious dance song, “The Cha-Cha.”
Our high school always accommodates other people, with special permission, as well. They are typically friends from other high schools. My friends and I had come to find ourselves looking at one of these “special permission” high school guys that was in our line of vision. Erica explained to me that he was best friends with Beau, but also friends with Sammy, Allie, and Jessica. I smiled at my friend Erica, who had seemed to become one of my best friends.
“Are you interested in him?” I asked.
She turned to me and said, “Eww, no!” as if the answer to my question should have been painfully obvious.
The dance ended, but the night was yet to begin. Our large group of 40+ persons waited for the party bus to arrive. The party bus was our pride and joy. The bus was going to make this night different than the others. Our eyes were wide with excitement and we had ear-to-ear smiles just thinking of the fun that night had in store for us.
The bus arrived, fashionably late, and we all packed in. It was a tight fit, but it didn’t matter because this had to be fun, right? Beau’s best friend now sat across from us in the bus. We introduced ourselves, and discovered his name was Justin.
The night floated on. Drinks were passed around, and people become loud and crazy. I had decided not to drink, but not only for the obvious reasons. I wanted to test myself and see if everyone drinking and being drunk was something that looked appealing to me.
The time got later and later until it took a turn and became a very, very early time in the morning. I saw my main girl Erica towards the center of the bus and I drifted toward her. I noticed she had been drinking, big surprise, but how much and who gave it to her? She confessed to me she had never felt so out of control and asked me to stay with her. Of course I stayed with her. What kind of a friend wouldn’t?
Erica sat on my left side and Allie was on my right. As I held her hand, Erica seemed like she was going to pass out right on me. She was safe. Her head was weighed down my left shoulder and her eyes about to close when Justin took her other hand. He pulled her up to her feet and started dancing with her. She started dancing too. Apparently she wasn’t tired anymore. They danced right in front of me while Allie and I conversed. Everything was fine.
Suddenly, Justin sat down and pulled Erica on top of him. She was so out of it, she just did anything. So there she was straddling Justin. He started to try and make out with her and she fell, stumbling on the ground somehow.
This was it. This was my chance to get her out of the situation. She was on the ground sitting, or well, almost sitting, when he grabbed her hand to pull her up. Since it was kind of dark in the bus, no one could really see that I held her down. Justin couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t get up. It was because I was desperately trying to hold her down. She had told me that she wasn’t interested in him and it was more than clear what his intentions were.
She stumbled to her feet. How did that happen? I asked her. What was going on?
Justin had her again and he was kissing her and feeling her up. I saw his eyes, concentrated and thinking how far he could go with her. I flipped out. I asked people for help to get him off of her.
No one helped me. Actually, people did more than simply not help me. They worked against me. Friends, acquaintances — boys and girls — told me to “calm down” and “relax.”
A friend of ours said, “She needs to hookup with someone. It’s good for her. Back off!”
People cheered her on. How could they?
In the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking that she was a virgin and planning to save herself for marriage. For all I know Justin would try to have sex with her and she wouldn’t be sober enough to say “no.” My mind fast forwarded to the thought of what the next day would be like. She would feel mutilated. She would be in tears, wishing she was still a virgin.
I couldn’t let this horrible vision happen. I pulled her toward me, trying to pretend like she fell on me or something. It was hardly believable, but it didn’t matter because I had her now. People looked at me in disgust, like I was being ‘dramatic’ or something, like it was actually kind of humorous. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Justin tried one more time to take her from me. I gave him the look of death like I’d pound his face in. He’s short and skinny so the idea wasn’t ludicrous. He looked at me, pissed and annoyed, then moved on to dance with some other girl. I guess he finally realized I wouldn’t give up Erica, my best friend, without a good fight.
On Monday at school, Erica heard about how she hooked up with Justin. She seemed to think she knew what happened and that she was in control. People even tossed around a few jokes about what happened, as if it were a lighthearted matter. Somehow Erica was convinced it was all fun and games, too.
At school, everyone just talked about the after party … who hooked up with who … who was passed out … and how fun it was. For the first time I really understood: This is what parties have turned into. It is not uncommon for a situation like Erica’s to occur. In fact, it’s “typical.”
The night of our dance was certainly a memorable one; a night so memorable, I try to forget it, but can’t. It was the night that reality hit me so hard, it felt surreal.
One of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt in my life was when I tried to protect one of my best friends, and other people — friends, even — got in my face, forcibly trying to make me let go of her.
That scene, those emotions, the feeling of being helpless is forever plastered in my memory. It’s a scene I wish to never relive again. Knowing today’s world, the society in which we find ourselves, I realize the likelihood of my wish coming true is slim-to-none. That is … unless I never go to a “typical” party again.
Natasha Nicole is 18 and lives in Ventura County.