Sunday, September 25, 2005

Homecoming is Where You Hang Your Hat.

So a week ago Friday, I went to my high school's Homecoming Carnival. I managed to convince Francie to meet me there; she was the class after mine, and doesn't have a horror of the place as so many grads do. I parked in the lot up by the gymnasium (being a rich kid school, we have a gymnasium building all to itself--and it's bigger now than it was when I was there. 3 gyms and what we used to call the Wrestling Room, because the wrestling mats were always down even in the off-season.) The carnival started at 4, and school gets out at 3, so there were plenty of kids milling around of all shapes and sizes. Hanging out under a tree in front of the upper gym doors, I had the odd sensation of having just walked onto the shooting set of an early season "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode. The faces, the dialogue.... Except that I didn't have the vague suspicion that most of these high schoolers were being played by actors nearly my own age. (Did anyone else have this problem with early Buffy? Not so much a problem, just an occasional "whoa!" moment when they'd zoom in on Willow's face and you'd see tiny little lines around her eyes and go "hey! she is SO not 15 years old!" It's the miracle of television. Alyson Hannigan's only 4 years younger than me. I'm not sure why I find this comforting, but I do. How did I live before the IMDB?)

Anyway, so it was a rush of high school endorphins all of a sudden, all these swirls of passing conversations about boys and driver's ed and whose house are we going to and where's your mom's car she's late omigod, and gangly guys shoving each other around, and girls commenting on each other's hair/makeup, and I was really happy when Francie showed up and I had someone to talk to. The Homecoming Carnival, formerly known as the Fall Carnival, formerly formerly known as the Halloween Carnival back in the day, is basically a series of booths set up by each class (it's a K-12 school, so 13 classes) and various clubs; all dumb carnival games, like fish pond and beanbag toss. The 5th Graders always used to run away with the most $$ for the Cake Walk, and in the Upper School it was the juniors with the big bounce room--though the cost of renting that thing offsets the eventual loot take. For some reason, they stopped having the carnival when I was in high school for a few years, and I really missed it even though it's mostly meant for the little kids.... So somehow, this year, when I got a card in the mail about homecoming I had a sudden and powerful urge to go and see if it was what I remembered from 1979. Sure enough, though I'm old enough now to perceive the cheesyness of the games, and the cheapitude of the little plastic prizes and candy, it was exactly what I expected. How many returns to high school can you say that about? We walked around for about 20 minutes, looked at the new gym, said hello to some faculty who remembered us, and then headed for Lilly Orchard to buy some carmel apples and cider. We didn't stay for the football game, despite the urgings of the lady behind the Orchard counter; we'd gotten what we came for, or at least I had.

Then, later in the week, I heard Bowling for Soup's "1985" on the radio for the first time, and it totally made me laugh. For those who haven't heard it, I quote here the chorus:
Bruce Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana there was
U2, and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids, in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19....19....1985.

At least I'm not that bad yet. :]