PICTURED ABOVE: Then juniors Payton Hart and Julia Mitterer-Claudet dance at the 2017 Hockaday Winter Formal. Photo provided by Cornerstones staff.
After 45 minutes of awkward conversation about family pets, favorite subjects and upcoming movies punctuated by bouts of silence, I glanced down at my phone for a brief respite from the uninterrupted eye contact. Immediately, my homecoming date asked snidely, “Am I not entertaining enough for you?”
Following a traumatizing car ride in which his mother grilled me on grades and the extent of my Catholic piety, we arrived at the dinner location more than an hour early. Failing the litmus test on my religiosity did not bode well for the rest of the night. For example, in the car ride home, my date’s brother remarked, “I wish you would have taken an Ursuline girl.”
I share this story not to convince you that homecoming always ends with your date avoiding you for the rest of high school but to remind you that your homecoming experience may not resemble those in movies such as “Another Cinderella Story,” “Prom” and “High School Musical.”
You may not descend from a grandiose staircase in a stunning dress to find your one true love waiting for you with a bouquet of roses. Instead, you may embarrass your date with an atrocious rendition of the sprinkler or get into an argument with a friend’s date about the Highland Park bond proposal. Your date may arrive in robin’s egg blue pants or may not even attend the dance because he received a concussion the day of homecoming (Before you ask, yes I have experienced all of the following scenarios).
Despite the myriad of homecoming horror stories I could share (and the many more my dates could share about me), I have not regretted attending a single dance. I met new friends, failed miserably at blackjack and sung my heart out to “Cupid Shuffle.”
For those who plan on attending any homecoming dances, don’t place too much pressure upon the event.
For instance, every New Year’s Eve I plan my day extensively, deciding which NYE show to watch and whether I will finally attempt to drink sparkling apple cider, and yet every year I pass out on the couch at 10:30 p.m., disappointed the following morning that I missed the ball drop in New York City and the coming of the new year.
Instead of stressing about having the perfect experience, just enjoy the moment. Break out the dance moves you promised your friends would never see the light of day again. Bet all your chips on a hand of poker. Take as many pictures as you want, but please do not bombard your Instagram followers with 10 posts about the dance.
For those who do not have a date to homecoming, don’t worry. My junior year, I ate Torchy’s Tacos with my other friends who had not been invited to homecoming while lounging in my flannel pajamas. Just remember that you will not show up to school Monday morning with a huge bruise on your foot because someone accidentally jumped on top of it while in the mosh pit.
Either way, getting asked to homecoming does not define your worth. You are still an amazing individual, and any person would have been lucky to take you. It is their loss.
Mary Orsak – Special Magazine Editor