Paul seemed to undergo a metamorphosis after Bill and Cindy conveyed their decision to have Cindy accompany Paul to the prom. They noticed that he was much happier, which pleased both Bill and Cindy. But, he also began to act much more familiar. For the first time, he took advantage of their offer to use their first names.
In fact, as he greeted them on their front lawn a few days later, it was he who asked, “You’ve always said, I mean, like in the past. You’ve asked me to call you Bill and Cindy. Would that still be ok? I mean, it’d be kinda weird if I was calling you Ms. Barrows at the prom.”
Cindy blushed, still not completely comfortable with the entire idea of going to the prom with a nineteen year old boy. But Bill chuckled and answered, “Yes, that certainly would be inappropriate. Besides which, we’ve been trying to get you to call us by our first names for several years now. After all, you’re an adult, and not much younger than us. I’m all for it.”
Then Bill reached out to shake Paul’s hand, while turning to Cindy, “What do you think, honey?”
Cindy had been all for the idea previously. The reason for Paul’s change of mind embarrassed her – Geeze, I still can’t believe I let Bill talk me into going to the prom with him, she thought – but that didn’t change her overall agreement and she confirmed, “Yes, it’s long since past due.”
Cindy then reached out to shake Paul’s hand as Bill had, but found herself being drawn into a hug, and felt Paul give her a gentle kiss on the cheek. She felt herself blush, but before she could correct him, Paul released her.
“I have so much to tell you. I’ve already started to make so many plans. This is going to be so great,” Paul began.
Cindy listened attentively, but Bill’s thoughts drifted off, Wow, this kid is nerdy. I mean, my buddies and I left all the planning up to the girls. But I guess he can’t really do that. I mean, Cindy certainly can’t do the planning, and he doesn’t seem to have many friends. Poor bastard, this will be the best night of his life.
While Bill became lost in remembering his own prom, Paul explained, “I’ve already ordered a white stretch limo. It’ll just be the two of us, so we’ll have plenty of privacy.”
Cindy’s eyes went wide and her eyebrows went up, as she asked in concern, “Don’t several couples usually go together in a limo? Why would we need privacy?”
Paul blushed and stammered, as he thought of reasons for privacy that he certainly could not share with Bill and Cindy. “Well, I just meant to talk and whatever. I know you feel a little funny about going with me, and I just thought you might want to be able to talk about the night privately.” Concerned he hadn’t fully convinced her, he added, “And besides, my friends have already made plans. They never expected me to get a date, so they didn’t save any room in the limo they rented.”
Feeling badly, as Paul admitted to his friends’ lack of confidence in him, but still uneasy, Cindy offered, “Well, you know, I could drive.”
Paul looked horrified at the suggestion and complained, “To the prom? You want to just drive to the prom?” He then reversed himself, in a voice filled with disappointment and resignation, “Fine, if you don’t want to go in the limo with me, you can drive.”
But Cindy was filled with pity, and self-recrimination at causing Paul such obvious pain, and she vowed not to criticize his plans again - unless they were seriously misguided - as she apologized, “I’m sorry, Paul. You’re right. A limo is what’s called for on this occasion. It’ll be fun.” She was surprised to find she was actually looking forward to it.
Paul’s formerly crestfallen face lit with joy. “Oh, thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Then, unthinking, he reached out and hugged Cindy much tighter than he had earlier and again kissed her cheek. Cindy blushed, as an unwanted hint of excitement washed over her.
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