I knew my place as a fourteen-year-old. Of course I couldn’t go to Homecoming. I’d seen a movie or two. That’s for juniors and seniors.
My precocious classmates thought otherwise. Everybody at my lunch table was discussing dinner plans, where they got their dresses, and their limo reservations. I wanted to smack some humility into them and tell them that their fiery intents were not culturally appropriate. Then I remembered MY humility and acknowledged that I was already very socially overwhelmed with this particularly fit, confident group of girls who talked to me freshman year when no one else would.
I acquiesced the best way that I know how, which is halfway, begrudgingly, and anxiety-filled. I bought a goddamn dress, did my hair and makeup, and went to the group dinner, dipping out before everybody else left for the dance. I cuddled on the couch at home and watched the season premiere of Saturday Night Live alone eating a lime popsicle and a Lean Pocket.
The restaurant was a weird vibe of all of these high school freshman in tuxes and gowns taking grand photos on staircases and getting ready for a big night, while I sat trying to make small talk with people I barely remembered from middle school, eating my chicken caesar wrap and watching with my entitlement. “They’re not doing this right. This isn’t how this is. I’ve seen a movie or two.”
I gave in and did go the next year, this time with theatre friends. I was unhappy and alone the whole time, my feet begging me to go home and heat up a Lean Pocket and sit in front of the TV. I had to wait for my dad to come pick me up. Dances have never been my thing.
I was in the paper, though. This was my first Facebook profile photo, circa 2007, Paint editing and all. I was really, really excited. But I did not enjoy the actual moment at all.