Looking back at our group photos posted all over Facebook, I can’t help but smile and feel a little smug. Not to brag or anything, but we look pretty good. No, really good.
The girls are standing in front, clad in a kaleidoscope of dress colors, and the guys are behind us, in black suits. We’re all looking in the same general direction, and in most of them no one’s pulling a weird face.
After parents had a sufficient number of pictures snapped, we clambered into several different cars and drove off to our dinner reservations. We rolled down the windows and pumped up the bass, being raucous teenagers as we cruised towards the setting sun. Yes, those teenagers; the teenagers who elicit scowls at stoplights because their rap is so loud it’s making the asphalt quake.
Sorry, we had too. Just this once.
Some girls think that not having a date to a high school dance, especially Homecoming, is a death sentence. What’s the point in going if you don’t have a guy to hold open doors and pay for your dinner? What’s the point in taking pictures if you don’t have a person holding you around the waist? What’s the point in going without a corsage to match a boutonniere?
In reality, that type of mindset only hinders the fun you could be having. Even if you’re not into dances, there is a multitude of other activities that pop up because of dances. Usually I find the chaos of getting primped and prettied up tiresome, but while dodging elbows and hot irons as I tried to apply eyeliner, the ambiance this time was different. We were excited, and even though we had gone to Homecoming last year, we had a feeling that this time was going to be unlike before.
We’re not the same people we were as sophomores, during the awkward transition period where 9th grade was being phased into a four-year high school, thus placing us on the same playing field as the freshmen below us.
We’ve changed since then.
In retrospect, my favorite part of Homecoming was being with my friends. I didn’t have a date, but I had them. The girls and I, we spent two hours together before the guys showed up, doing hair, make-up, and sharing the occasional piece of gossip. Unashamedly, we were something out of a cheesy chick-flick, rom-com or sitcom. Thoughts of homework or extracurricular activities were blessedly absent.
Out at dinner, the catchphrase of the night was, “Wow,” a line articulated by adults who saw us. I heard it twice. Once, when my friend and I walked into the Italian restaurant, and an older man uttered in a tone hard to place. It was either a, “Wow, teenagers. They look like they’re going to be trouble,” or, “Wow, those dresses are shorter and tighter than when I was in high school.” I can’t decide for myself which one it was, or which one I’d prefer it to be. The second time I it was directed at me, because it came while we chatted with a group of old friends who had made reservations and were seated behind us. This “wow,” I’m pretty sure, was one of astonishment at our manners. They teasingly told us to behave ourselves and smiled at us before we left.
The actual dance was slightly stale, but we had expected that. Trapeze artists had been hired to complement the circus theme, prancing and gyrating in a hoop hanging from the ceiling. I find it funny that the administration harped on us to dress appropriately, while the performers were clad in feather boas, ribbons and lacy bodysuits. They finished up an hour or so before a mangled version of Blurred Lines officially ended the dance, in which Robin Thicke’s crass lyrics were transformed into something similar to the noises the grown-ups make in Charlie Brown films.
To the girls who refuse to go to events like Homecoming because they don’t have a date, I do understand where they’re coming from. All school dances are essentially couple outings, and who wants to be reminded of how painfully single they are? But don’t allow your relationship status to stand in the way of something enjoyable. There will always be a chance to meet a boy. If not high school, then in college. If not in college, then after college. If never . . . well, you might want to do some serious self-reflection if it comes to that.
For me, Homecoming in junior year is perfectly preserved in those pictures. We went because we wanted to spend a night out together, not because we felt like we needed a guy in order to feel adequate. I know some groups of “friends” who pulled some political maneuvers in order to procure a date for everyone, and that’s just ridiculous. That night, this year, we didn’t care about impressing parents, dates or strangers.
For us, Homecoming was about putting ourselves, and fun, first.
Rita Olson is a student at Redmond High School. A sweater-loving "hapa," she also enjoys getting involved with the community and volunteering with animals. Outside of writing, she enjoys fencing, running, hiking, exploring various types of indie and alternative music, and going out with friends.