In October of 1996, the Happy Just-Friend approached me and asked if I would accompany her to a Halloween party in College Station, Texas. If you don’t grasp the gravity of that request right away, let me tell you that College Station, Texas, is the last place on earth any University of Texas student wants to visit—especially on Halloween—because it is the home of Texas A&M University, UT’s arch rival in football and our main competition for the hearts, minds, and loyalty of Texans everywhere. This rivalry is not typically friendly. Aggies and their supporters are some of the most rabid (seriously, mouth-foamingly rabid) proponents of an institution that you’ll find anywhere, and their passion for their school is matched only by their hatred of UT. However, the Happy Friend’s best friend from high school was attending A&M at the time. (Let me add here that Amy, my wife’s friend, is a wonderful person and one of the best things ever to come out of that school.) She invited us to an Aggie Sisters for Christ party, and it apparently meant a lot to her. Since I didn’t want my Happy Friend to have to make the two-hour drive alone, I agreed to go.
Three words: Worst Halloween ever.
The first thing I noticed when we showed up at the party was that it wasn’t a party—it was a dance. I hate, hate, hate dances. I can’t dance. I don’t like to dance. I don’t like watching people dance. I would rather spend an entire day at the beach than two hours at a dance, and I really don’t like beaches. I wanted to turn around and leave as soon as we arrived, but I didn’t. The next thing I noticed was that the dance was not a slow-dance-that-anyone-can-do kind of event. No, it was a country-and-western event where if you didn’t know how to do the Texas Two-Step you might as well attach yourself to the wall and stay there all night. Then I noticed that the Happy Friend and I were pretty much the only people not wearing costumes. So we spent the evening sitting off to the side, drinking punch, talking as much as we could over the blaring C&W music, enduring a raucous rendition of The Aggie War Hymn (the words of which are basically “That school over in Austin sucks so much we refuse even to speak its name correctly and Aggies rule yeah!” repeated 173 times), looking like non-dancing non-costume wearing party poopers, and feeling pretty much like pork chops at a bar mitzvah. It was good that we got to spend some time with Amy, always a pleasurable experience, but the whole thing was pretty uncomfortable.
After it was finally over, we made the two-hour trek back home. When I dropped my Happy Friend at her house, I got out of the car and gave her a hug like I had always done before. At the end of the hug, as she was pulling away, she did something she had never done before. She kissed me on the cheek and said, “Thanks for going to the party with me.”
Three words: Best. Halloween. Ever.