Monday, May 12, 2014
CROSBY, Texas (AP) — Mike Ramirez is a high school football player who spent most of his time on the bench last season and works part-time at a local McDonalds. Caitlyn is a Texans cheerleader whose life is devoted to intense workouts, coaching tumbling classes and studying communications at the University of Houston.
Yet 10,000 retweets later, the two are a prom couple.
For "Big Mike," as he's been known to his friends since his sophomore year at Crosby High School in suburban Houston, it all started as a joke during 3rd period, when Caitlyn followed him on a "Twitter following spree."
"I was all like, 'What if I took a Texans cheerleader to prom?'" Ramirez recalled asking his classmate. "He was like, that would be pretty cool."
So Ramirez sent Caitlyn a message. "If I get 10,000 retweets will you go to prom with me (insert smiley face.) you will get asked in a cute way!"
"Of course I will," responded Caitlyn, who according to Texans' policy isn't allowed to give her last name.
"Alrighttt!" Ramirez exclaimed.
Twenty-seven hours later, the high school senior who had recently broken up with his girlfriend had a date — as well as a lot a series of semi-envious, semi-genuine "attaboy" tweets from friends and dozens of new Twitter followers.
"It was just as a joke," Ramirez said. "I didn't think I was going to actually get it."
And he really didn't think it would attract attention beyond Crosby, a town of 2,300 people on the outskirts of Houston.
That one Twitter message, though, made Ramirez's prom a bit more than he originally had in mind. Not only are there TV cameras and microphones eager to talk to him about the whole thing, his date was a bit of mystery.
The Texans decided the prom would be a blind date. All Ramirez knew about Caitlyn before they met was that her favorite color is pink and she likes sushi.
The two met Saturday night at Churrascos, an upscale Latin American restaurant, for dinner before prom.
Ramirez arrived first, with his mom, Monica Cortez, and eight friends of his friends.
Then Caitlyn arrived in a limousine, and six other Texans cheerleaders in uniform were at the restaurant to support her.
Ramirez opened the limo door for her, and she stepped out and gave him a hug. They exchanged a corsage and boutonniere.
Journalists were surrounding the limo when it arrived. When asked if there would be a second date, Michael indicated that he was hopeful for one — or even a wedding, he said jokingly.
As for Caitlyn, she said, "I plead the fifth."
They were headed to prom at the Houston Museum of Natural Science after dinner.
From March until Saturday, the two had tried to go about their lives as normally as possible.
Ramirez worked his shifts at McDonald's, juggling interview requests in between. He hung out at the park with his friends. He tried on tuxedos with his mother, and played with his younger sisters.
Caitlyn continued her university class schedule, while intensifying workouts and hip-hop dance classes ahead of cheerleader tryouts in April. Officially on the team for a second year, she adjusted her schedule to continue teaching tumbling classes while going to practice — and doing media interviews.
Ramirez's mother, meanwhile, tried to get a handle on it all. Cortez opened a Twitter account for the first time to help her son with retweets. Quickly, though, she became more adept. She congratulated the couple, and thanked Caitlyn in 140 characters.
Then she started taking screenshots of Ramirez's Twitter page as the interview requests piled up, telling him who to call and when.
"It's a little overwhelming," she said, wearing a red Project Graduation T-shirt while volunteering at a school fundraiser.
Yet she's excited. Tears well up in her eyes. Her baby, she points out, is graduating.
"In the very beginning to me it was just one of his pranks because that's just who Mike is. He likes to play around and joke around a lot, but I figured if he set his mind to it, it would work out," Cortez said.
Associated Press videojournalist Jill Craig in Houston contributed to this report.
Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP