Mack did not attend her junior prom, and in the opening months of 2012, she was showing absolutely no signs of interest in attending her senior prom, either. I tried to talk her into going. Her friends tried to talk her into going. But she was not hearing it. She kept saying things like, “school dances are lame,” “I’m just going to go to after-prom in my skinny jeans and a t-shirt,” and “I look weird and feel awkward in a floofy gown.” Of course, she had never worn a gown in her life, so there was no way she could have known how she might actually look in one. I was certain she would look just gorgeous in a prom dress, given her long and lean physique, but Mack was not hearing that, either. She had never enjoyed getting dolled up, she disliked dresses and makeup, and it really was not that surprising that she was being so stubborn. By February, I was resigned to her decision and gave up trying to change her mind.
But Mack’s boyfriend Abhinav did not give up, although he knew Mack well enough to understand the challenge he faced. Abhi was a very bright kid, and he realized that much ingenuity on his part would be necessary for success. It just so happened, though, that Mack was a writer for the high school newspaper, and one of Abhi’s best friends, Emma, was the Senator’s editor. So Abhi hatched a sneaky plan, sought out some tight-lipped co-conspirators, and crossed his fingers for a little luck. Emma was very fond of Mack, so she was immediately on board with Abhi’s plan to use the Senator to invite Mack to prom; and the newspaper’s good-humored advisor Ms. Negele was happy to be involved in the conspiracy as well.
The devious schemers believed that a printed, very public invitation would certainly give Abhi the “yes” answer he was seeking, but that success demanded total secrecy. It would be imperative that Mack remain in the dark, and since she was a senior member of the small newspaper staff, keeping the plan hush-hush until the March issue of the paper was printed, delivered, and distributed throughout the school would certainly be a trick. The newspaper staff always worked as a group to layout pages, copyedit, and finalize each issue before sending it out for printing. Therefore, Emma and Ms. Negele had to work carefully to make certain Mack did not see any early versions of the page on which Abhi’s invitation would appear. But, in the end, the newspaper issue was finalized and sent off to the printer, complete with the bold prom invitation, and Mack was none the wiser. On the morning that the paper would greet more than 1,300 Springfield High School students, Mack would see the invitation to prom from Abhinav, and she would have no choice but to say “YES,” right?
But for Abhi, some doubt crept in, and he started to worry. In fact, he started to agonize over what he and his co-conspirators had done. He began to question his judgment. He now wondered if the plot had not only guaranteed him a “NO” answer from Mack, but might also have set her up for school-wide embarrassment that might even jeopardize his relationship with her. His cold feet got the best of him, so he arranged a breakfast date with Mack before school on the day of the newspaper’s distribution. Now Mack always showered the night before school and rolled out of bed just in time to throw on sweats and a t-shirt and then speed the one mile up Washington Street to the high school in her old Jeep. Frequently, she even failed to make the first bell. Therefore, convincing her to get up in time for breakfast must have been a challenge. Apparently, though, Abhinav was persuasive. But when he picked her up that morning an hour before school, I was shocked. I do not remember how he had lured Mack out of bed that early, but I think it may have been the promise of free Mel-o-Cream donuts!
At breakfast, Abhi presented Mack with a copy of the newspaper, and this is what greeted her on the FRONT page…
I would have done just about anything to have seen the look on Mack’s face when she stared down Abhi’s printed invitation. I have no idea what she immediately did or said. What I do know is that she agreed to be Abhi’s date for the prom, and the two of them went on to the high school to face the student body together. Abhi’s decision to let Mack in on his secret before arriving at the school was, likely, wise. Throngs of students had already seen the paper by the time they arrived, and Abhi’s prom invitation was the topic in the halls and in the classrooms all day. Mack handled the attention with style and a great deal of humor, as she did most everything else in her life, and she laughed and joked with the multitude of friends, teachers, coaches, classmates, and teammates who greeted her throughout the day.
The plot had worked, and I never heard Mack express anger or even displeasure at Abhi or Emma or Ms. Negele. Yet I do think she was a tad embarrassed that day, being the topic of conversation and facing all of that attention. But I believe it was one of those rare moments in her life that Mack quietly admitted to herself that she was deserving of a little extra attention, that she was special, and that special people in her life were willing to go to extraordinary trouble just for her.
And so, together, Mackenzie and Abhinav attended their senior prom, and I was so pleased to have the opportunity to see Mack in a gown. She let me spend a little time on her hair, but she wore no makeup and had chosen a very sensible pair of flat sandals. And just as I had predicted, she looked gorgeous…a divine image of natural beauty. But, hey, I will let you all be the judge of that…
Here is a fun little video of Mack posing for pictures before prom. The quality is very poor, but it is good enough to see Mack doing her thing. She is dancing a silly little Irish jig…her goofy way of rejecting any pretense or pomp that might creep in when one is wearing a floofy gown! http://youtu.be/TjDxFJ1P_Ps
Note from Emma (Co-Conspirator Extraordinaire): “We usually laid out all the pages of the newspaper before sending them to the printer so everyone could see what it looked like. The front page “still wasn’t finished” when we laid out this issue. I’m surprised she didn’t know about it before. She was a really good sport about it, as she was with everything that came her way!”
Note from Abhinav: Thank you for putting up that video and blog post, definitely one of my favorite memories in my life and will never forget her face when she found out. Still have multiple copies of that [newspaper] in my room.