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My Prom Date's Name Was Bubba
By Romie Angelich

To pay for things like the McDonald's party and to have money of my own, I worked an after school job. Bubba occasionally picked me up on his motorcycle. More than once we skidded on wet pavement. Sliding underneath the back of a car and staring up at its exhaust pipe with Bubba on top of me, my life flashed before my eyes. It was as close to sex as we ever got.

Bubba was in love with another girl. That didn't stop him from coming to my house and drinking beer and, occasionally, making out with me, as if it was a "mistake" each time. (It was the Natural Light talking.) His obsession was (someone I'll call) Ann Nameless. She was two grades older than Bubba, and one grade older than me. His birthday was September 23rd and mine was June 7th. I was only 109 days older than he was. Ann was 473 days older. Not that I cared that much. Helping Bubba pick out jewelry for Ann and listening to the poem he wrote for her on Valentine's Day were really only small blips in my adolescent angst. Being the designated driver in my father's van, while the two of them made out in the back on the way home from a party at the Lake, listening to them moan, whisper and laugh, is hardly worth remembering.

After Ann Nameless went off to college, Bubba and I would swim, drink too much beer and sit on my parents' screened-in porch off the house that bill collectors built. He would often say such romantic things to me as, "Why don't you take your top off?"

I'd reply, "Why do you want me to take my top off?"

Hoping for, "Because I love you."

Bubba would offer up, "Somethin' to do."

Which just wasn't enough.

I was raised Catholic. Plus, my oldest sister Zeta got pregnant when I was in the 8th grade. I had been changing diapers and babysitting for free for far too long to fall for "Somethin' to do."

Bubba and I went to the Austin High Class of '82 Prom together. Ever the feminist, I invited him. My mother managed an expensive dress shop, which loaned me a $5,000 sequined gown. Del lent us an emerald green Jaguar that looked amazing with my dress. We got food to go from an Italian restaurant and set up a table and chairs on the grassy median where Austin's First Street Bridge meets up with Cesar Chavez. Everyone going to the prom passed us on the way to the Hyatt. The only photo I have from Prom night was of Bubba and me, with a homeless guy, who came out from under the First Street Bridge to drink beer with us.

I was class president and helped run the prom. I was dealing with school business when the room I rented with friends at the Hyatt was taken over by Bubba and the rest of the football team. They managed to get us kicked out of the rooms I had helped pay for. With no place to go for the night, I dropped off the immaculate $5,000 dress at home. I changed into jeans and drove an hour and a half away (sans Bubba) to eat breakfast in historic San Antonio with close friends from my graduating class.

I was an awkward third wheel to the prom couples who still wore their formal wear while eating Huevos Rancheros and Migas.

Bubba and I drifted apart when I moved on to the University of Texas and started doing stand up. I wanted him to meet my comedy friends and, most specifically, my husband Pete, but he stopped returning calls. I missed the transition when my friend crossed over from being a fun-loving party guy to someone with major drug and alcohol problems. I hadn't heard that drug and alcohol abuse were ways to cope with symptoms of schizophrenia, and that Bubba had been diagnosed with it and was in a really bad way. I didn't know how bad things were until years later I learned he'd killed himself. After I heard, I called his mother and told her how sad I was, and that Bubba had been one of my favorite people in life. We laughed and cried about a lot of things and promised to keep in touch. I have made it a habit to call Lynda every year on September 23rd, because I know Bubba's birthday must be so hard for her.

Just a few days ago, I called. Bubba's stepfather Del answered and said he and Lynda had me on their minds a lot lately. They'd adopted "a sweet little girl who's part German Shepherd and somethin' else with big feet," and they named her Romie. They hoped I wouldn't be offended, and I'm not. I was like a puppy dog following their son. Naming one after me is right up there with the way the name Bubba makes people smile.

I live at the corner of Depressing But Funny, right down the street from "Somethin' To Do".


Bubba's mom Lynda with the puppy named Romie

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