At the beginning of this story, when Susan Calhoun was returning to her locker after a first day at a new school ""she could hardly read the dial for the blur of tears in her eyes,"" yet as soon as another girl, Greta Hulsey, started to talk to her ""she couldn't resist returning the girl's candid smile."" Susan quickly discovers that the teenage social whirl in her new home town of Kimberly Park rigidly revolves around the military academy, where girls can be invited for dances only if they are included on a carefully screened list of eligibles. ""How snobbish"" is Susan's initial reaction but her concern is soothed by Greta who explains that ""...a bid to an Academy dance is--well, a status symbol,"" and by her parents who are most enthusiastic when she is asked to her first dance. Greta contrives to have her brother Tony take Susan to the dances so that Susan can meet Mike, the most attractive boy at the Academy, and Tony complies. Mike does fall for her but can't ask her to the dances because his parents always force him to take another girl, so faithful Tony agrees to escort Susan, without interfering with Mike's interest in her even though he himself likes Susan. After Susan starts going out with Mike, friends warn her that he'll soon drop her. He doesn't. Susan, naturally, is not satisfied with the dance arrangement, but when Mike finally rebels against his parents' edict, Susan is relieved that it is the last occasion she will have to spend with Mike. A weird set of values, which never seem to balance out no matter how you try to interpret them.