My Sunday School kids were all aflutter about homecoming--who has a date, who has a dress, which schools have their dance/game on which day. This sent me reeling down memory lane. As many of you dear readers know, at my high school (your high school) we did not have a Homecomeing Game per se, but the Kirkwood vs. Webster Turkey Day game at 12 noon every Thanksgiving. Three weeks prior to T-Day, the rival schools joined together at Friendship Dance. Both schools together at one location. Wierd.
I have two stories.
Not long into my junior year I started dating Sean, who I would have dated long before but he had a girlfriend (that sounds familliar). So, I bided my time and she went off to college and eventually we started going out. All was well. I really like him, we had a great time together and though we hadn't talked about it, it was customary to go a dance with your boyfriend. So I went looking for a dress. I found a dress, though in retrospect...yikes (if only I had a scanner I could show you a photo of this monstrosity).
One day I'm sitting at pommie practice (that's pom pon practice...like danceline or drill team...but NOT like cheerleading). We're sitting in Ms. Stein's room after having watched a video of our last performance....or waiting to watch one...either way. We're all sprawled out on the floor and gabbing, mostly about the upcoming Friendship Dance. I say casually to my friends, "Well, I have a dress, but not a date...yet." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Heidi, the captain of the pommies and, it is safe to say, the hot senior babe, upon overhearing this, turns around and says, "Huh...I have a date, but no dress."
"Oh?" I reply, "Who are you going with?"
And time stands still.
I see it now with Matrix-like special effects. We seem to freeze but actually plunge into super slow motion (and total silence) as the camera circles around us. Sean's name spills out of Heidi's mouth with that low gurgling sound of a record being played at the wrong speed. The word literally spills from her mouth and the letters form themselves into a bullet which then shoots, very slowly...with the camera still 360-ing around...straight into my heart.
Time and sound resume.
My girlfriends try to hide their gasps of horror as they quickly turn their backs and fall into mock conversation, not in abadonment but in trying to save me the embarrassment of witnesses. I manage some lame reply ("Really?" "Huh." "Nice.") to Heidi who seemed not to notice the sound of my heart creeeeaking out of it's rightful spot in my chest and hitting with a clang somewhere down in my bowels...or the blank expression on my face as I flip through the rolodex of facts in my brain and try to reconcile them with what I just heard. Strangely enough, she also seemed not to notice that I was dating her date.
It worked out okay in the end. It turns out it was one of those, "if neither of us are married by the time we're thirty we'll get hitched" kind of deals, where a couple of senior guys and a couple of senior girls who were all good friends planned over the summer to pair up and all go together to their last Friendship Dance. It was a deal struck before the previous girlfriend had even packed her bags for college. Or that was my understanding and I was fine with it.
I actually ended up going with Heidi's younger brother. I made endless akward jokes about Sean & I picking up our dates at the same time, or double dating, or whatever would milk the absurdity of it. "We could all get our pictures taken together!" It was fine. Sean and I dated for a year and a half after that...obviously no hard feelings.
But that was one of those moments, heightened by the hormones and emotions of being sixteen and maybe in love or at least totally crushed out, where the floor drops out and your head spins and you're left with the choice of falling to pieces or laughing your ass off. For whatever reason, I was able to pick the latter. And I still think it's a funny story.
It's senior year. Sean and I were either broken up temporarily or unable to go to Friendship Dance together because he was away at college. I was nominated to be Friendship Queen, which added pressure to the pressure of finding a date. I simply couldn't imagine who would ask me. I decided to take matters into my own hands and ask my very favorite boy, who is still my very favorite boy (husband aside), Nate.
Kids often asked the boy or girl of their choice to dances in creative ways. Girls were sent on scavenger hunts. Boys went to the parking lot to find their cars filled with balloons with shoe polish messages scrawled on the windshield -- that sort of thing. I decided follow suite in asking Nate.
Two things happened at every football game. 1)The Boy's Pep Club Officers would go down onto the track between the third and fourth quarters and lead a cheer called "Down to the River." Nate was a Boy's Pep Club Officer. Yeah, man. 2) The cheerleaders had loads of little rubber footballs that they would throw into the crowd when Kirkwood scored a touch down.
I caught one of those footballs and wrote on it with a Sharpie "Nate, will you go to Friendship with me?" and threw it to him when he was down on the track leading "Down to the River."
Now, Nate was my best guy friend. We had gone to school together since sixth grade. We did school activities and Young Life and hung out. When boyfriends and girlfriends, for that matter, were fickle or mean or just plain nuts, Nate was always there to hang out with and talk to. When I needed spiritual advice or encouragement or needed someone to kick my butt into line with a little straight talk, Nate would do it. And then there was camp. Enough said. Unless he already had a date, which I didn't think he did, I thought Nate would want to go with me. And we always had a fun time. It seemed like a good idea.
So, third quarter ended. The boys in their matching shirts (JCrew rugbies, I think it was, how very preppy & Kirkwood, I could almost puke thinking about it) went down on to the track. I was nervous and giddy. I stood up on my seat shouting Nate's name and waving until he looked up at me. I chucked the football at him. He caught it, then read it and his face lit up. "Score!" I thought to myself, excitement building. I raised my hands, palms up and gave him that... sort of..."SO?" gesture. He cupped his hands to his mouth to make a little megaphone..I took a breath and waited... he yelled, "WHO IS THIS FROM?!?!"
With a grand roll of the eyes I had to yell, "It's from ME!" DUH!
To this day I have no idea who he thought it might be from. Did he think I was playing matchmaker? Was I working on behalf of a third party?
There was a slight pause (eternity at seventeen years old) while Nate regrouped. He shrugged and shouted, "Okay." Ta-da! The not-so-big finish.
Again, I found all this hilarious. And again it worked out great in the end. We went to Chuck E Cheese before the dance. It rocked. In the year book photo of Nate escorting me up the aisle for the crowing of the queen (not me...wait till May and we can have nostalgic prom posting) you can see a Chuck E Cheese sticker still stuck on my dress (tartan plaid with a big black velvet bow at the neck!). Fifteen years later (15?!?!) I see Nate and his lovely wife Gina whenver I'm in town. And he's Oliver's godfather--all this despite his lack of enthusiasm at my invitation to the dance. Hey, now that I think about it, that night we doubled with our friend Stacy and her date Cam, Heidi's brother, my date the year before.
So, those are my two homecomingesque Friendship Dance stories. Nate or Sean, if you are reading, feel free to set me straight on how it really happened.