Homecoming memories

Posted on October 8, 2011
Filed under Columns & essays | 9 Comments | Email This Post

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well.  Just get up and dance.”  ~Dave Barry

My son Nate is 25 now, and past the stage of high school homecoming dances. But this week, some of my neighbors are gearing up for this sweet tradition, and I remembered this essay from my book, Writing Home. Happy news: Nate is engaged to the young woman mentioned at the end of the essay and shown in the photo at left. –CL

“The Homecoming Dance”

September 21, 2003

From baptism to bar mitzvah, rituals and rites of passage honor the milestones in our lives.  Certain rituals are so closely tied to autumn, in fact, that I can’t imagine the season without them. Raking leaves, visiting cider mills, and digging woolens out of storage are just a few.

But the annual high school homecoming dance crowns them all.

At our house, as surely as the maples shed yellow leaves on the lawn, this semi-formal event kicks up a whirlwind of activity and emotion. Some of it is not pretty.

Since I’m the mother of a son, my homecoming rituals do not include shopping for the ultimate evening gown and the perfect shade of nail polish. Admittedly, I miss playing Fairy Godmother to Cinderella, so I live vicariously through other moms who have teenaged daughters. That’s how I’ve learned that things are different with boys. The angst level, for instance, is much lower in the wardrobe department. Guys don’t worry about their hair, and they don’t have to obsess over finding a purse to coordinate with a pair of shoes that will be worn only once.

Traditionally, a boy waits until forty-five minutes before the big event to consider whether or not his dress shirt needs to be unearthed from the closet floor. (This is based on the assumption that he owns a dress shirt.) At that point, all hell breaks loose, sending his beleaguered parents in search of an ironing board while the boy hunts down a pair of matching socks. He also waits until the final hour to announce that his good suit has cake frosting on the lapel – a souvenir from the last semi-formal event he attended.

Homecoming rituals will test any parent’s mettle, but I believe I’m a sturdier person because of them.

I miss playing Fairy Godmother to Cinderella, so I live vicariously through other moms who have teenaged daughters.

Last year, a week before the big dance, we drove Nate to Nordstrom’s to shop for a new shirt and tie. Anticipating conflict, I backed off and let him sort through the merchandise with his dad. I tried to keep quiet – until I spotted a handsome gold dress shirt that was perfect for his black suit.

“Look at this one, guys!” I shouted, holding up the prize. On cue, Doug spotted a great tie to go with it. Our sweet son glanced at the ensemble, rolled his eyes, and muttered his new favorite word: “Hideous.”

Seconds later, Nate’s cell phone rang. It was Andrea – a young lady with impeccable fashion sense. Andrea happened to be shopping in the area and would come to his rescue. She would help him find the right shirt.

Well, when the fashionista arrived in the men’s department, she immediately chose – you guessed it – the gold shirt. Suddenly this shirt was awesome, and the tie was fairly cool, too. (I bit my tongue and reminded myself that God really does look out for parents, and He is everywhere, including Nordstrom’s.)

As I type this, the next homecoming dance is a week away. Just as I did last year, and the year before that, I’ve reminded Nate to ask a date in advance. Once again, I’ve explained how girls need time to shop for dresses and book hair appointments. And just as he did last year, the kid kept his plans under wraps until he needed advice on ordering a corsage.

As it turns out, Nate’s date this year is Andrea, the sharp young lady with good taste in men’s shirts. Thinking ahead last week, we bought Nate a new shirt and tie to co-ordinate with her dress. Thank goodness, Andrea approves. Meanwhile, I am not taking any chances and have dropped off the black suit at the dry cleaner.

This is senior year, after all, and we’ve finally learned the steps to the homecoming dance. – Cindy La Ferle

Writing Home is available in local bookstores and on Amazon.com (see link at the top of this page). Proceeds from my book sales are donated annually to organizations serving the homeless, including the Welcome Inn and South Oakland Shelter, at holiday time.

 

Comments

9 Responses to “Homecoming memories”

  1. Harriet on October 9th, 2011 11:00 am

    Oh my, Cindy, you made me smile. As a mother of a son and grandmother to two grandsons, your reminded me of the silly nature of “growing up”. Thank you, I hope your are enjoying the wonderful sun of this lovely day. Harriet

  2. Lynne on October 9th, 2011 5:30 pm

    I had to laugh, Cindy, as both my boys did exactly as you described in waiting until the last minute!! Luckily, the Lord blessed us with our daughters, so I had the balance needed to survive these dance milestones :-)

  3. Matilda on October 9th, 2011 5:30 pm

    Every time I read this I get a smile on my face, thanks for sharing it again. I remember this like it was yesterday, and now, they are going to get married. Happy ending to a wonderful story. I wonder if she’s going to pick out his shirt and tie, again……

  4. Pam on October 9th, 2011 6:47 pm

    It is a great time of year. Not sure who gets more excited, the moms or the kids!

  5. Cindy on October 9th, 2011 7:12 pm

    Tilda — Glad I made you smile, and like you, I can’t believe how fast time has gone. And you’re right — a happy ending to this story! So glad we are sharing it together, and becoming a family officially!

  6. Elizabeth Harper on October 10th, 2011 4:34 am

    Engaged! That is sweet news.

    I was just talking about Homecoming on Saturday evening after mentioning my high school Homecoming Queen to someone at our pub. There’s no such thing here in England even though they have picked up the American Prom tradition and she had trouble understanding why we would have such a celebration.

  7. Cindy on October 10th, 2011 8:15 am

    @Elizabeth — I can understand why the tradition would seem odd to people in England … I know that it’s a celebration of the “home” team — at least in high school football terms. But I think the dance itself is just an excuse for the kids to dress up and party.

  8. Bridgette on October 10th, 2011 7:06 pm

    The last time I went to Homecoming was with my sweet uncle. He had been the student body president 50 years earlier at the school our daughter was attending. We sat in the stands and cheered, loving the cool air and Fall leaves.
    That was 15 years ago, I still miss it.

  9. joanna jenkins on October 13th, 2011 3:31 pm

    Big smiles Cindy. This year I Skyped in while my nieces in Ohio got ready for Homecoming. It was almost as good as being there.
    xo jj

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