A reluctant Homecoming Queen.
I should have been excited. I should have been stoked. But down inside, I was feeling a little ill. As they called off the names for the Homecoming court I was sitting in cheerleading practice and my name had been called. I smiled at the others who were in the room with me. Most of the court was also on the cheer squad. “Oh, I’m so excited!” I said out loud, as we congratulated and hugged one another. But inside I held a very dark, very disturbing secret. I didn’t have a date to the dance. No one had asked me. I just played along with the happiness the whole time biding my time until I could get home and call my mother to tell her the news. Oh shit. What am I going to do now? I had 8 days until the dance and no hope at all of getting a date or a dress in time. I was pretty sure I was either going to pass out or throw up, or maybe, just maybe if I was lucky I would get some sort of flesh eating virus before then.
Cheer practice was finally over and I gave my best smile to my friends and I scrambled to my car. I couldn’t get the key into the ignition fast enough. I had to get home and I had to get home now! I drove my baby blue bug like I was on the Autobahn and made it to my house in no time. I ran in the door and straight to the phone and dialed my mom’s work number. Once her work answered they put me on hold while I had to wait for them to transfer the call. I can’t believe they put me on hold! Don’t they know this is an emergency!!!!
“Hello,” I heard my mom’s voice on the other line.
“Mom, I’m on the Homecoming court!”
“Oh my God Stacy that’s great!!! I’m just so happy for you! I can’t wait to tell everyone!”
“Mom, I don’t think you understand, this is not good news.”
“Mom, I don’t have a date or a dress. I’m screwed.”
“Relax, we’ll just have to drive down the hill tomorrow and get you a dress.”
“Okay…” I said to her trying to sound optimistic. I couldn’t tell her no, she was just so happy.
What had happened my senior year was a Stacy rarity. For the first time in my entire high school career I had actually decided I didn’t want to go to a dance. When I was a freshman I couldn’t wait to go to Homecoming, but now that I was a senior, things had changed. First off, I had had the same football player boyfriend for my first three years of high school, and he always took me to the dances. Unless, of course, we were broken up because I had found out about one of his other girlfriends. This happened more often than I care to admit. In any case, there had always been a pitch hitter to fill in when I needed one. But my on-again-off-again football player was a year older and had gone off to college to sow his wild oats. Leaving me behind and dateless. Don’t feel bad for me; I was actually at peace with the entire situation, till Homecoming came around. But now because I had waited so long everyone in school had a date to the dance so that really left me with no choice but to call the oat sower and kiss his ass to be my date. This was turning out to be a rather uncomfortable Friday.
As I dialed his number I just kept thinking to myself, If he can’t do this I’m totally screwed. That would mean I either go stag, or I take one of my cousins. One is humiliating, and the other is unspeakably humiliating. Answer the phone!!! As the phone rang and rang I had visions of myself dancing with my cousin Mark while the vice principal Mr. Johnson called the police to have him arrested for being an incestuous pedophile. Thankfully, Chuck picked up the phone.
“Hey Chuck, it’s Stacy.”
“What’s up Stace?”
“Oh, nothing much…uh, yeah, so…um…I’m on the Homecoming court.”
“Congratulations! That is so cool!”
“Thanks, I have a small problem though. I don’t have a date. Do you think you could take me?”
“Yeah, that would be great!”
“I mean it’s totally last minute and all.”
“Stacy, don’t worry about it. What color is your dress so I know what color corsage to get you.”
“Yeeeaaah, that’s another problem. I don’t have one yet. I’ll have to get back to you on that. I TOTALLY owe you one.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Thanks Chuck. You’re a life saver.”
After I hung up the phone I felt a little better and my stress level went down a bit. But I still had to make the hour long trek down the hill to find a dress. At the time, Big Bear had maybe three shops where I could buy clothes, but none of them had anything even closely resembling a Homecoming dress. I would just have to suck it up till morning.
Saturday morning couldn’t come fast enough. I was up and anxious. I just wanted to get the hell off the mountain and get a damn dress already. By the time my mother woke up, I was already in the passenger seat and the car was ready to go. “COME ON LET’S DO THIS THING!” I yelled at her from outside.
“Stacy, I need coffee and I’m in my pajamas.
“You’re really slowing us down, you know that? We’re burning daylight!”
She had finally gotten ready and we made it down the hill and dress shopping was just as I had expected. Very, very sad. I knew it! It was Homecoming season. Not just for my school, but for all the other schools in the area. The stores were picked clean. There were really no options. Frustrated, my mother took me to a bridal outlet.
“Mom, I don’t think a wedding dress is really going to work in this situation.”
“Shut up! We’re going for the bridesmaid dresses.”
“Ooooohhhhh.” As we picked through dress after dress, outlet after outlet, I eventually found one that fit and didn’t look too bad. Granted it was all black and I looked like I was going to a really fancy funeral. But it was in our price range leaving us with just enough to buy some shoes as well.
Homecoming week started and was met with the usual schnaganians. The kidnapping of the court is always fun. You get awoken in the wee hours of the morning and taken out to breakfast and left to fend for yourself for the rest of the day wearing nothing but your pajamas. My mother was the best about those kind of days. She never told me when they would happen exactly but she would give me the heads up to sleep with a bra for the next week or so. Going to school braless might be fine for others but it’s not really my cup of tea. After we had the assembly to introduce the court we had the pep rally. It was a good week.
When the Homecoming game came around I had asked my father to escort me out onto the field. In retrospect, this was probably one of the most traumatizing moments in my poor father’s life. He gets absolutely petrified in front of crowds. First off we were driven around the field in convertibles where we wave at everyone and then we came to a stop in front of the bleachers. At that point the nominee’s escort is supposed to open the drivers side door and then help the nominee out of the car. My dad sat there frozen like a petrified statue. “Dad, open the door,” I whispered to him. Nothing. He didn’t move. I don’t even think that he was breathing.
“Dad, you need to open the door.”
“Huh?” he said still staring ahead of him with some sort of strange deranged smile plastered to face.
“Dad, it’s time to get out of the car now,” I said leaning forward towards him.
“Oh, okay.” He said as he jumped out of his seat looking confused like he had just been shocked out of his seat by an electronic pulse. He helped me out of the car and walked me onto the field. As we stood there it was if rigor mortis had set in on my father. He just stood there, all 6’5” of him, frozen while his tie whipped and hit him in the face. But he never once moved a muscle. I don’t even think he blinked. Not even once.
Dad, are you okay?” I asked out of the corner of my mouth.
“Yes…” he whispered with the same creepy smile he was wearing earlier. He was really starting to freak me out.
They eventually announced the Homecoming Queen and let me tell you how happy I was that I had gotten the dress and the date, because I had won. I accepted the crown, smiled for the pictures, and then ran back to the locker room to change back into my mascot outfit for the second half of the football game. It was nice to be Homecoming Queen and I was honored that the students chose me. But I felt more comfortable being the mascot. The thing about the Bear costume is that no one can see what you’re doing on the inside of it. But this time I wish they could, because inside the costume… I was smiling.
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