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Remember homecoming during your high-school years? There were all the pep rallies and assemblies that you had to drag yourself up early in the morning to attend, just to watch student body officers pull unsuspecting freshmen from the stands and force them through a “whimsical” obstacle course. Some schools had themed days for you to dress up and show your school pride, and some days where they would segregate the student body by color and pit them against each other in several more “challenges” with menial prizes, just so the seniors could proclaim their rank as master before being kicked out by the end of the year. There was the actual homecoming game, jam-packed with rabid community fans and students either there to show their school spirit or to hang around the bleachers in a socially accepted environment since there was nothing else to do.
And who could even think of homecoming without pulling a memory of the big homecoming dance . . . or possibly being reminded of a lack thereof . . .
The amount of preparation was excruciating. Who would you ask as a date? Were they hot enough? Would they say yes? Had someone already asked them? When would be the best time to ask them? Did you have enough money to spoil them properly? What would you wear? How would you get there? Was a limo an option? Group date or solo couple affair? And where on God’s green earth would the best after-party be after you were done promenading in silk and sequins for several hours with the rest of the student body?
It could be said that arranging the perfect date for high school homecoming, or any large school dance, required intricate planning, money management skills, time management skills and presentational creativity. Would that be something you could add to vaguely beef up a resume?
All the hype seems to be lost once you hit college. It’s rare if some students even decide to go at all. A college homecoming may be full of starry-eyed freshmen reliving the excitement of their recent high-school days, and maybe a few seniors trying to cash in one more time before they enter a world without many formal affairs. Sometimes the promise of traditions such as Weber’s own “kiss under the Bell Tower at midnight to become a true Wildcat” can draw a few more, but other than that, the urgency and excuse to have arm-candy glued to your side dies a little when you have the issue of a whole new life to adjust to.
In most high-school homecomings, sometimes the actual invitation was the best part of the entire dance. The expectation of your room filled to the ceiling with balloons, or someone’s name cleverly hidden in an entire sheet cake, exceeded the actual thrill of awkwardly slow-dancing with the person you found out it was instead of the dream date you were hoping for.
In college days, you are lucky to get a face-to-face invite aside from the lazy and typical text invite — if you get invited at all, that is.
It was also slow torture to your wallet to arrange and pay for all the day’s worth of activities that were needed in order to proclaim your dating supremacy. You needed a morning activity, somewhere to go for lunch, an afternoon activity, time allowed for the involved parties showing up in dresses to primp senselessly for several hours, an incredible and mind-blowingly expensive place to buy your date dinner they might pick at, then show up fashionably late to the dance only in anticipation of the night activity, which may or may not be entirely legal.
In college, if you are at least taken to dinner before your dance, whether it’s with your group of friends who randomly decided to go or your actual date . . . that is a fancy evening. (Denny’s in prom dresses, anyone?)
Even with the forced nostalgia of dance titles named after the cheesy romantic theme song that the elusive homecoming royalty would use to spin their five minutes of fame to, it might be safe to say that the spirit of the epic school dance has died.
Or maybe not? I still plan to get dressed up and enjoy a night with my friends during a few more years of my life that I actually have the excuse and luxury to. That’s really what the intention for them is in the first place, all unrealistic “best time of our lives” expectations aside.