Despite never having gone on a date before, Dakota Nelton had been determined to take a girl to his homecoming dance. But then the girl he’d chosen to invite had rejected him outright. Worse still, the rejection had happened in front of dozens of other students. Yet before he’d even recovered from that humiliation, he was suddenly confronted by another group of girls.
There can be a lot of pressure on teenagers just to fit in and survive at high school. They want to feel accepted by their peers, of course. It’s a difficult time of life for anyone, after all, and it can be made that much easier knowing that there are friends and allies around.
One such high school teenager is Dakota Nelton. He’s a student at the H.L. Bourgeois Braves high school in Gray, Louisianna. As a sophomore, he’d been attending the school long enough to have made friends. Yet by his own admission, Nelton is far from the most popular student.
Perhaps this is because, rather than following what the most popular students are interested in, Nelton appears to walk to the beat of his own drum. Indeed, his Facebook profile seems to show a teenager who lives his life somewhat in the left-field of mainstream popular culture.
In one Facebook photo, for instance, Nelton stands beside a massive WrestleMania poster. And while events such as WrestleMania are hugely popular, fans of the sport can sometimes be seen as geeky. And Nelton also apparently has other interests that might seem unusual for a kid his age.
Many teenagers enjoy driving around in their cars, if they’re lucky enough to own one. And maybe they’ll cruise with their buddies after school or on the weekends. Yet Nelton – as evidenced by a couple of Facebook uploads – seems to have a fondness for muscle cars and monster trucks.
Nelton’s music tastes, too, seem to diverge from what his peers might typically listen to. So whereas friends would probably be playing contemporary music, Nelton has shared a picture from what appears to be a Def Leppard gig. That’s the sort of classic rock that might be favored by older generations.
In any case, the teenager isn’t among the most popular kids at school. But when it came time for the high school homecoming dance, Nelton was nevertheless determined to attend. Not only that, but he also wanted a date to accompany him to the event.
For those who don’t know, homecoming is a more casual celebration than prom. Homecoming takes place at the start of the academic year, for one thing, and is also intended primarily as a celebration of a school’s former students and their successes since graduation.
Homecoming celebrations can actually last a week. Activities and events could also include parades and ceremonies celebrating homecoming queens and kings. And although events vary from school to school, the main focus is most commonly on sports – and usually football.
So, following the game, there will normally be a dance. And even if there isn’t a game, there will pretty much always be a dance. The dance, then, can be a pretty big deal for students. And that being the case, Nelton knew that he didn’t want to go to H.L. Bourgeois Braves’ event alone.
But it wasn’t easy for Nelton to muster the courage to ask a girl on a date. You see, undoubtedly feeling shy, like many kids his age, it’s something that he’d put off until this point. With the dance approaching, though, he could seemingly wait no longer.
Yet Nelton knew whom he wanted to invite to the dance. According to WGMO, he’d chosen a close female friend. So, with this being the first time he would ask a girl on a date, Nelton probably didn’t want to step too far out of his comfort zone. And surely a pal would help him in his time of need.
Yet although it may have seemed like a safe bet, Nelton still seemingly wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. Perhaps he even thought that he needed to make a good impression. He therefore took the time to make a poster with a promposal written on it. And then he tried to choose the right moment to approach his potential date.
The big moment eventually happened in a hallway at school one day. It was a busy time, and there were a lot of other kids around. Nelton then saw the girl he wanted to invite to homecoming as his date. So, with his poster in his hand, Nelton no doubt took a deep breath as he walked up to her.
It’s likely, of course, that Nelton had rehearsed the moment over and over in his head. Maybe he’d even acted it out in the privacy of his room in the hope that everything would go smoothly when he asked the big question. It’s unlikely, however, that he could have prepared himself for the response he actually received.
The girl whom Nelton invited to homecoming said no, in fact. And after the teenager had asked the big question, the girl just stood shaking her head. That probably wasn’t the way it had played out in Nelton’s mind. After all, would he have asked if he thought she’d turn him down? Yet that wasn’t to be the worst thing that happened.
Because the incident occurred in a crowded hallway, many others witnessed Nelton’s rejection. Friends, peers, random onlookers all got a good look at the bustling scene, in fact. The teenager might well have wanted the ground to open up and swallow him at that moment. But, of course, that didn’t happen.
You might even say that the opposite happened. It’s fairly typical, you see, for kids to carry smartphones around with them. And with those phones come cameras that have video capabilities. So, predictably, someone had whipped theirs out and recorded the whole thing.
To add to Nelton’s embarrassment, then, the video was later posted online. And not only that, but people also watched it in their thousands. So, as Nelton’s friend turned down his promposal, the screams, jeers and laughter that followed were captured and shared for the whole world to see.
In the clip, it’s clear that Nelton almost certainly isn’t expecting the response from the young lady. Yet when the reality of the situation seems to set in, he doesn’t become angry, and he doesn’t run away. Instead, he seems to freeze, perhaps hoping that if he keeps really still, no one will notice what just happened.
“It was actually a pretty tough moment standing in a small circle with that one shaking head,” Nelton told KSN News in October 2018. “And you just got to find your way out of that circle. It’s hesitating.” But the teenager at least wasn’t the first person to suffer a public rejection.
In April 2015, for instance, Patrick Smith – a student in Park Ridge in New Jersey – was gearing up for prom. But Smith went about asking his desired date, Jen Malespina, to accompany him on the big night in an unusual manner. And it was in no way a private or intimate promposal.
During a sports event at the school, you see, Smith grabbed a microphone and walked up to Malespina in the middle of the field. Most probably nervous with so many people watching, he said, “Is there any way you would wanna come to prom with me?” Job done. Or so it seemed.
Because Smith’s words rang out over the loudspeaker to not only Malespina, but also all those gathered to watch the game. And the response he received wasn’t a positive one. Unfortunately for the promposer, it turned out that Malespina had already agreed to go to prom with somebody else.
So Smith suffered the heartbreak of being turned down, and it had also happened right out there in public, before a crowd of around 2,000 people. And if the humiliation of Malespina saying no weren’t bad enough, of course there was a video of the event as well. Which was subsequently posted online – and went viral.
Nelton, then, wasn’t the first person to have been rejected so publicly. And it’s highly likely that he won’t be the last. Despite not being unique in his humiliation, though, it’s still quite possible that in this precise moment he had never felt so alone. The fact that others had suffered similar experiences would probably have been of scant consolation.
So what did Nelton do next? We know that he hesitated. But how was he going to remove himself from the difficult situation without too much more embarrassment? Well, it wasn’t actually the rejection that triggered his next move.
Sure, the girl said no and that was hard enough in itself. And the laughing and jeering from onlookers was also tough to take. But when someone trampled over the poster that Nelton had created, it was the final straw. “That’s what made me walk away,” Nelton explained to KSN News. “I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
It was Nelton’s belief that his school valued bravery, care and happiness above all else. And he thought he himself had shown courage by asking his friend to be his first ever date. But where was the care from the other students in their responses to his rejection?
We’ve seen, of course, that it’s likely that this rejection was something that Nelton hadn’t planned on. That’s proof, if it were needed, that you can’t write a script for life. But then something happened the following Monday that the teenager also certainly hadn’t seen coming.
As Nelton walked along a hallway in school that Monday, he was confronted by a group of girls. There were 13 of them, in fact, which can be an intimidating sight at the best of times. Add to that the presence of cheerleaders in the group, and it was hard not to wonder what they wanted with Nelton.
Nelton had already suffered the public humiliation of being rejected when he’d asked a girl out on a date. The last thing he would have needed was more ridicule from other students. And given that he wasn’t the most popular kid in school, he likely wondered what cheerleaders would want from him.
Well, as it happened, the girls had something that they wanted to ask Nelton. You see, they’d found out about what had happened when his promposal hadn’t gone according to plan the previous week. And so they’d got together and worked out what they could do for him.
One of the girls, fellow Bourgeois Braves student Alyssa Buckley, explained their idea. She told KSN, “Let’s get a group of girls together and ask him [to the dance] to show him that he’s loved and worthy and deserves to be going to homecoming with somebody.”
So, just as Nelton had represented the “bravery” aspect of the school’s motto, the girls had seemingly stepped up to honor the “care” aspect. They were going to make sure that Nelton not only go to the homecoming dance, but that he also wouldn’t leave without a turn on the dance floor.
And in a possible nod to his own disastrous promposal, the girls held up posters inviting him to be their date. Their request had the desired effect on Nelton. “I felt like one of the popular kids in school, which I’m really not,” he admitted.
According to WGNO, the girls’ idea to extend invitations to Nelton was inspired by National Bullying Prevention Month, which is observed in October. So when they’d seen what had happened after Nelton’s promposal had gone wrong, they’d come up with the plan as a riposte to those who’d taunted him.
It appears, then, that Nelton had the last laugh. As the girls approached him, you see, they caused a commotion of a different kind. Instead of the jeers and laughing that had accompanied Nelton’s rejection, there were shrieks and gasps of excitement as the girls strode up to him.
It perhaps goes without saying that Nelton accepted the girls’ offer. And the irony of the situation wasn’t lost on the teenager. As he practiced slow dancing with his dates, he said, “It’s weird how the first date is with so many girls at once.” Nevertheless, it’s testament that kindness does prevail among H.L. Bourgeois Braves after all.