Welp. The pandemic is over, or at least it would seem as much down at the local high schools, where screaming, unmasked football crowds packed into stadiums are a regular occurrence again. And, HOCO season is here, another opportunity for every teenage girl that exists to prove – once again – that high heels are walkable in for everyone except me.
That’s right, ladies and gents, I’m talking about homecoming. The annual weekend when people are supposed to travel home from wherever they’ve moved on with their lives to, like in those quintessential 90s movies; travel home and go to the ol’ football game and sit in the “alumni section” with the other old fucks that have started to bald and wear fanny packs no longer out of irony, but rather utility. …have drinks at the bar you tried to sneak into with a fake ID decades ago, have an old person’s dance of your own where the quarterback of the football team slops all over you, hairy beer belly bulging out of his shirt that’s missing a button, drunk; all-the-while trying to sell you and your husband Barry insurance… you know, homecoming…
Of course where I live now, in hyper-whitebread suburban California, no one ever leaves, so I’m not certain the Hoco football game part of it all is as big of a deal. The entire town goes to the weekly football games anyway, whether they have children or not. (A little weird, if you ask me.) What the fuck are you “coming home” to if you’ve never left? Here, it is all about the spirit week and the dance. And while my kids homeschool, they still have friends in the community, and we have family… and there’s just a decidedly HOCO vibe about the community during homecoming week that leaves me acutely aware of just what is going on, and how things have changed.
What the fuck is it with kids these days where everything has to be a charade?
Like you can’t just text a kid and say “hey, you want to go to the dance with me,” or whatever. Now, kids are doing these stupid signs with little poems. One year, my daughter showed me a video on Instagram of a girl she knew getting a “Hocoprosal,” where this kid brought a pizza into class for her and he had used green frosting to sloppily write “will you go to HOCO with me” ON THE PIZZA. I can still taste the vomit boiling into the back of my throat at the thought. Another year, I heard about a kid being given a goldfish, because the theme was something very Back to the Future – like “fish under the sea dance.”
When it comes to the gimmicky use of a living creature that will require care, time, and cost for God knows how long (my understanding is that, years later, the fish is still alive), why not go bigger than a stupid carnival goldfish in a bag? Why not a rabbit? How about a dog? Fuck it, a horse! Hey gurl, I got you this horse will you go to HORSECO with me?
Thoughts and Prayers
There is no less of a meaningless, I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-your-problems, thing to say than “thoughts and prayers,” but this year in particular I have a lot of people to “thoughts and prayers” at.
Thoughts and prayers to our old neighbors who rented their kids a hotel suite to have a party in after the dance. They also supplied the alcohol. Stand up, Grade A parenting right there. Good luck on the bill you get for the room damages, and hope no one got drunk and died driving because of that kind of dumbass enabling behavior.
Thoughts and prayers to the family member whose daughter came home from homecoming having made it official with the kid sporting a decidedly ironic mullet, which he happened to curl for HOCO because – you know – Joe Dirt cleans up real good.
Thoughts and prayers to the parents of the kid who joked in the line behind me at CVS the other day that this may be the year he finally gets his girlfriend pregnant at HOCO.
In the last couple of years, I’ve heard horror stories about janitorial crews finding empty 40s in the bathrooms, and used condoms on the dance floor, to which I have to ask: what the fuck is going on? I mean I get it: kids will be kids, but actually no. No. This is not kids being kids. This is too many thoughts and prayers, and not enough… I don’t even know what…
When I Was a Kid…
I don’t know if it’s that I’m hedging on 40, or that things just really are remarkably different than when I grew up, but when I was a kid absolutely none of this bullshit would have flown.
I’m not even just talking about the truly audacious stuff, either. In my day, we went to the Ken-Tac-Hut and ordered soft tacos and personal pizzas in our fancy clothes, not out for a $50 per person prix fixe meal at a wine bar. We had a party after the dance, sure; but it was at someone’s house, and we had to pay an older brother to buy us a six pack of beer that he drank half of before handing it over. Homecoming was, yes, a thing – with the king and the queen and the football game, and the spirit week with the pajama day and the crazy hair day; but never – not once – did anyone (at least that I am aware of) intend to impregnate another person on the dance floor.
Times change, sure, but this much? I don’t know. Maybe this is more reflective of the Midwestern girl in me, who still brings a sweater everywhere with her lest people see her bare shoulders. Or perhaps it’s unique to the community in which I live now, where no one seems to ever leave, and so how would they ever understand that some of this stuff isn’t normal?
Whatever the case may be, I’m just glad I’m not a kid anymore. Sure, I’m not exactly jumping for joy about turning the page on my 30s, but there is no way I could keep up with the heavy drinking, fast talking, wine bar dining, dry (or not) humping dance- lifestyle that teenagers have today.
And how could I? I can’t even walk in high heels.