It was going to be my son’s first formal dance, and I could hardly wait.  Not because I was ready for my son to be grown up and doing those kinds of things, but because it was my turn to watch him experience that horrific event in a man’s life: pinning his first corsage on his date.

I could remember well my first time.  It was a Valentine’s Day dance, and girls’ choice.  It was also my very first date.  Going to a formal dance on a first date is a formidable challenge.  Not only was I nervous about trying to figure out the whole dating thing, but I had to add on top of that all the extras for the dance.

My mom tried to help.  She told me I would need a corsage, and she would order it if I would tell her what color.  I asked the girl what color she was wearing, but it was one I didn’t recognize, one that was outside the normal vocabulary of those of us of the male gender.  Within ten minutes I couldn’t remember it at all, and I didn’t dare ask my date again, or she would know I had forgotten.  So I asked Lenny.

He said I would be safe to just get red.  “That is a good color for when you bleed all over it.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about, but it sounded good to me, so I told my mom to get red.

The day finally arrived, and I apprehensively made the drive to the girl’s house.  She, of course, was not quite ready, and I was invited to come in and sit in a chair that was directly across from the one her father was sitting in.  He was a man of few words, and he mostly just stared at me.  By the time my date came into the room, I was sweating profusely.

When she did enter, she was absolutely beautiful, and that added to my nervousness.  Her gown was pink, and I felt relieved that red was close to pink.  But when I showed the flower to her, the glance she exchanged with her mother made me wonder if I had made a mistake.

Eventually, it was time to pin the flowers on before we headed to the dance.  The whole family gathered around for the event.  My date pulled out the pink boutonniere she had purchased, reached her hand under my lapel, and deftly pinned the flower on.  Then it was my turn. 

I wasn’t quite sure how to do it.  I obviously couldn’t just stick the pin through her dress, for I would surely poke her with it.  Almost everyone had a suggestion on how best to do it, and my date just stood there smiling and waiting.  When one sister suggested I reach just beneath the neckline of the dress, my courage faltered, and I suggested her mother do it. 

Her mother laughed.  “I don’t think so.  This is one of the fun traditions of a formal dance: to watch you pin on the corsage.”

I took a deep breath and made the attempt.  I ran the pin so deep into my finger that I thought I was going to pin me to her dress instead of the flower, and I instantly understood what Lenny had meant about bleeding all over it.  Finally, after multiple attempts, and the loss of most of my blood, the corsage was finally in place.  Everyone clapped, embarrassing me further.

So now it was my son’s turn.  I watched as his date quickly pinned on his boutonniere.  I grinned as he reached for her corsage.  But to my surprise, the flower had a little strap on it, and he just slipped it onto her wrist.

My grin turned to surprise.  “Aren’t you going to pin it on her?”

He shook his head.  “That’s the old-fashioned way.”

With a last picture, they were on their way.  After they were gone, I turned to my wife.

“Somehow, I feel like life just cheated me.”  

Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist and playwright, is author of “Super Cowboy Rides” and can be contacted at [email protected]“>[email protected]; or visit his website