Prom is always a special night in a young person’s life. It can be a great experience to get dressed up and hang out with friends all night, riding in a limo and tearing up the dance floor.
Or at least, that’s how it should be. But for one young man, prom night came with a sobering revelation that the “friends” he had planned his night with weren’t who he thought they were.
After an upsetting prom experience, he got a heartwarming surprise from his real friends.
The story first broke on May 31, after John Richards, a DJ for Seattle radio station KEXP, read a letter from a mother named Sheila Loop.
She explained that her oldest son, Jackson, was all set to go to prom with some of his peers from band. He had bought the $150 ticket and a custom-tailored suit.
However, just as Jackson was going to prepare, he got a text saying that the group had canceled their pre-prom photo idea, so he put off getting ready and waited for word from his friends.
The night went on—and it became clear that his bandmates might be blowing him off.
“He waited, and he waited, and he waited,” Sheila wrote. “No one responded to his texts or picked up his calls.”
“His younger brother and sister and I watched him … as he started to realize that he was being ditched,” she continued. “And I have to tell you that in my 18 [years] of parenting I have never felt so much pain. It was mixed with an indescribable amount of rage.”
To top it off, Jackson saw the group’s prom photos on Facebook and was crushed.
Jackson stayed in and didn’t go to prom. The rejection just added to feelings of loneliness and insecurity. He told his mother that he felt like a “invisible, throwaway loser.”
“He’s always been on the fringe and really wanted to be part of a group,” Sheila told Yahoo Lifestyle. “It wasn’t until high school band where we thought, ‘Oh, great! There’s going to be band kids!’”
Jackson said this isn’t the first time the band kids have blown him off.
“I’ve been kind of blind about it,” Jackson said. “I kind of showed them how to treat me. Like, ‘They can do whatever they want, I’m all right. I can be in the back.’ But I never really liked it.”
“It really hurts me when it’s almost every time that I’m just in the back, tagging along, and barely anyone is talking to me.”
But the following Monday, Jackson got a surprise that restored his spirits.
The juniors in the band threw him a surprise “fake prom!”
These younger students didn’t attend prom, but were shocked when they heard what Jackson’s own classmates did to him on prom night.
That night, Sheila got a text from one of the band girls, saying they wanted to do something special for Jackson.
“They wanted to throw him a surprise ‘fake prom’ on Monday,” Sheila wrote. “She asked me to sneak his suit into the trunk of his car and she would invite him over for pizza, and behind the scenes they all got dressed up, bought flowers and food and played music in the backyard.”
“He was stunned. He cried when he saw them there.”
Jackson and his real friends partied and ate a cake that read “Fake Prom 2018.” Their hard work and thoughtfulness meant a lot to Jackson.
“I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know how to respond,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I’m in the bathroom changing [into my suit] and I kind of shed a tear a little bit, because no one has ever done this for me, really ever.”
“This is what it means to receive a gift from friends who are doing something, particularly for me.”
He hopes the story will inspire young people to seek real friends, because they’re out there somewhere.
John Richards, reading the story on air, called the teens “heroes” who will “renew your faith in kids.”
As requested, he played one of Jackson’s favorite songs, fittingly, LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends.”