The CMAs are tonight and for some reason, I’ve been hearing a lot about Shania Twain this year. To that I say: UGH. I don’t much care for her. If asked why, I’ll usually give some version of “She just gets on my nerves.”
But today, Internet, I’m going to tell you the real reason I hate Shania Twain.
The guy? We’ll be referring to him as Steven*.
Let’s travel back to high school and set the scene, shall we?
Sophomore year. Steven* and I began dating. I was a Sophomore; he was a Senior. I was what one might have called a “good girl.” Mostly because, even at the tender at of 16, approximately 85% of the girls in my school either already had a baby or were pregnant. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. And I wanted no part of that. I had plans to get out of that town and that meant keeping my knees together.
This seemed to pose a problem for Steven*, because he wanted to Do It. And me? No, thank you. (See reasons above.) Despite his constant declarations of love, it wasn’t going to happen.
If the fact that I had already decided I wasn’t going to Do It with him wasn’t enough, his letter confirmed it. In what I can only assume was an attempt to show me what I’d be missing if I didn’t give in, he wrote a letter telling me that he planned on being single when he moved on to college. (If there happens to be any high school boys out there reading this, let’s be clear: This is not the way to get into a girl’s pants.)
Not only was I not going to Do It with Steven, I was over the constant pressure and ended up breaking up with him…two weeks before prom.
My father, ever the voice of reason, made me go with him anyway. Some nonsense that sounded something like, “You made a commitment and you need to follow through.”
So that bright Saturday morning in May, I woke up early, met up with my girls to get our hair and makeup done and put on our pretty prom dresses. Then, I waited on him to pick me up.
He comes. We do the obligatory pictures. He keeps putting his arm around me; I keep pulling his hands away from me. We go to dinner with friends, then on to prom…located an hour away at a golf resort. An hour away. An. Hour. Away. But, I resolve myself to make the best of it because I made a commitment and blah, blah, blah.
We arrive, we park, we hitch a ride to the resort entrance via golf cart (us mountain folk really know how to do a fancy night), we walk down a ridiculously long hall.
And then it happens.
Steven* removes his jacket, hands it to me, and proceeds to belly slide across the floor.
The thing about me? I HATE LOOKING LIKE AN ASS.
So, I watch him slide, see him gathering lint from the carpet and dresses and I don’t even want to think about what all else, and I immediately head to the corner to cower with my girlfriends, who are much more amused by this than I am. And I wait.
Fast forward to somewhere between 2 and 4 hours (days??) later (I lost track of time in my attempts to avoid him all night), and it happens. The song. THE song. The one that signals the night has come to an end. The Song in which our entire night had been themed around, right down to the wording on our glass souvenir champagne flutes and beer mugs (us mountain folk obviously forget the law says drinking is okay at 21, not 16). But, I digress.
Shania Twain’s “From This Moment” comes blaring through the room. I see couples doing the stiff arm rocking back and form attempt at dancing, making googly eyes at each other because from that moment, they had been blessed. And out of the corner of my eye, I see him coming.
“Dance with me.”
“Dance with me.”
“No. NO. You are covered in sweat and floor lint, and…no.” I’m trying not to be too pouty about the whole situation at this point, but let’s keep in mind that I’m 16 and self-centered and OHMYGAH EVERYONE IS *STARING* and it couldn’t possibly get any worse.
“YOU DON’T LOVE ME!” he screams as he runs from the banquet hall.
Well, there we go. It got worse. Awesome.
Realizing that I still had to ride home with him, I set off to find him (but not after a dramatic sign because OHMYGAH EVERYONE IS STILL STARING AND CAN THIS NIGHT JUST BE OVER? PROM IS HORRIBLE AND WHY DO PEOPLE EVEN WANT TO DO THIS AND JUST MAKE IT STOP. SHUT UP, SHANIA TWAIN, WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT LOVE??)
I found him. Right there at the entrance of the banquet hall. Weeping. In plain sight of everyone. I try to make amends and tell him I’ll be nice for the rest of the night, even though he was the one acting like a donkey’s ass.
The lights come on, the teacher’s begin shooing everyone out the door, and it’s over.
Or, so I thought. Because, turns out, it wasn’t over. There was more.
Steven* decided to use that moment when everyone is coming out of the door to remove his tuxedo shirt and his undershirt (remember, he has no jacket since he tossed it aside for the belly slide), thus effectively rendering him the Skins part of a Shirts and Skins prom, if there ever happened to be such a thing.
After all of this, we drive (the excruciatingly long hour) back to our town, where the post-prom get together is getting together. We all hang out and I keep thinking he’ll eventually leave because we are broken up and he knows we are not getting back together and I can’t even look at him anymore and this is weird and everyone is staring at me and I am only 16 and I don’t even know what to do because I am kind of freaking out and he is a crazy person and ohmygah when can I just go to bed?
Finally, people start falling asleep. I curl up on the couch, with my friends and Steven* in various places around the basement.
An hour later, I wake up as Steven* is climbing onto the couch. Where I am. With me. Turning me into the little spoon. I keep my eyes closed, stretch, and roll off the couch. I take my blanket with me and attempt to resume sleeping on the floor
And an hour later, it happened again. I wake up as Steven* is crawling down onto the floor. Where I am. With me. And suddenly, I am the little spoon again.
And then he whispers, “I need you like I need air. You are my air.”
To which I promptly reply, “Your mother is a respiratory therapist. You’ll be fine.” (Apparently, I was bestowed with the gift of snark at a very young age.)
He didn’t speak to me again that night, and was one of the first to leave that morning.
That summer, I received several care packages from Steven* with ripped up pictures of me and Bible verses scribbled on scraps of notebook paper. I never responded, and it eventually stopped.
Years later, when Facebook became all the rage in my last days of college, he requested to friend me. And promptly began to criticize me, telling me I was a failure because I hadn’t achieved what I had set out to do, and he was “succeeding.” Nevermind the fact that he had two years on me in the real world, and I was still finishing up college.
And nevermind the fact that his idea of “succeeding” was having one movie under his belt as a soft core…artist? So obviously, his childhood dreams were coming true.
He gave one last ditch attempt to communicate with me (because, you know, all girls like to get a somethin’-somethin’ going with a guy who calls her a failure) by sending me a link to that terrible song.
To this day, hearing Shania Twain sends me into a tailspin of teenage despair and angst.
*Name changed to protect my PTSD.