May We Dance With Your Date?

July 1, 1999

GRAND RAPIDS - July is the month in which we as Americans celebrate freedom, and Mike, being as red blooded as they come, is no exception.  As I am sure all of you who know him can attest, Mike has always prided himself on doing things in a manner which displays that freedom to its fullest. 

If it happens that this expression crosses some lines, all the better for him!  Only in retrospect does it sometimes occur to him that perhaps the lines that have been crossed were better left intact, or in this case at least undocumented.

It was with the best of intentions that Mike set out to express his right to dress in the fashion (such as it is) of his choosing. 

But I am getting ahead of myself. 

It really started in High School, right before the prom.  Mike's date got sick at the last minute, and since the rules stated "Couples Only", Mike was in a pickle. 

He didn't want all the money he had already spent to go to waste, but that rule (which he felt was discriminatory anyway) seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle to his going to the prom and having a good time.  After all, he had already paid for it, he ought to be able to get an exception approved for illness, right?? 

Well, that was not to be. 

He called the principal, who called the board, who said "No exeptions, and no refunds".  This made Mike very upset, because he knew that it was unfair. 

Now, for those of you who do not know Mike, this type of situation really sets him off. 

So he began to think about what he could possibly do about it, and when he called me with the following solution I immediately found an excuse not to participate.  (Actually, I was in the process of hanging up on him when I thought of my own ideas as to how I could throw some accelerant into the fire he was building). 

So I told him that I knew a guy named Gary who would be more than happy to help out with the plan.  I gave him a call and he agreed, as he was always free on prom night for too many reasons to go into here.  I will just leave it at this- adding Gary to this situation was like adding vinegar to baking soda.  (Way too good to miss!)

Before I go into the details of the evening I must throw in a disclaimer.  For those of you younger folks reading this, you should know that at the time he did this, you couldn't get expelled for it.  Today, you can not only get expelled, but it is almost assured that  some sort of court proceedings will follow.  In addition, depending on what part of the country you are from, you may be stalked, ridiculed, tarred-and-feathered, or beaten up and left for dead.  So DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

That being said, what Mike decided to do was go to the prom, with a date, in accordance with the rules, but at the same time send a message that he was not in support of those rules by showing them to be ridiculous. 

A reductio ad absurdum in Mike's own wonderful style. 

And yes dear friends, the couple was to be Mike and Gary. 

I snapped the below photo before they left the house, and they are just as they appeared as they walked in to the prom, hand in hand. 

grlymrf.jpg (98693 bytes)Not being one to miss something like this, I left in advance of the soon to be king and queen of the dance, and snuck in the back kitchen entrance (which Mike should have done in the first place) thus gaining entrance to the festivities with neither date nor ticket.  (Additionally, this is a great way to determine what might be safe to eat later, and what to avoid.  Bringing the kitchen staff some refreshments will also go a long way).

It was not long before my best friend and his date arrived, and it was even better than I had anticipated.  The place just went dumb-ass quiet.  I don't know if they just didn't recognize him at first or what, but it felt like 5 minutes before the screaming started. 

Everyone in any sort of position to raise an objection did so, the principal was called (again), as was the board, but since Mike had not broken a single rule he was allowed to stay and participate.  Of course he had a wonderful time, as did Gary who had never seen this type of social activity in person before.

Needless to say, the fallout which followed this escapade was swift and severe.  The "Couples Only" rule was turned from two words into two paragraphs defining exactly what constituted a couple, the location of future proms was to be kept secret to all but approved couples, and all entrances to the building were to be kept locked.  (Yeah, right. That'll stop me. Ha!) 

In addition, Mike's original date vanished without a trace and has yet to be heard from since.  Her family even denies that such a person ever existed.

So this July, when you are out celebrating the freedoms which we all take for granted most of the year, remember those patriotic people who have throughout history taken whatever steps became necessary to fight for, defend, and uphold the rights of the individual--George Washington, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, (that ought to get this site on a couple search engines!) and of course, our own Mike.

Next...Mike and Ted's Excellent Adventure!

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