#throwbackThursday or that time I spent after prom behind a potted plant

Now who wouldn't want to be this gal's bff! Such style and demure grace

Now who wouldn’t want to be this gal’s bff! Such style and demure grace

My younger son is staring down the end of his sophomore year in college and his junior year in high school is a distant memory. But I will never forget my final hooray as a volunteer at a school function. First published May 8 2012

Just in case anyone was worried, I survived After Prom 2012. Beav survived his mom being there and he even spoke to me during the event, three whole words after a nod and mumbled “Hi.” What a great night…er…early morning! I got to volunteer with the cheerleaders’ moms.

Yup. That’s what I just wrote. Cheerleader Moms.

We’re gonna let this sit here for a minute. Think about this. Me. The Queer Mom, of one slacker son and one uber shy and uber smart kid, was working with the cheerleaders’ parents. When I realized who these women were, part of me wanted to laugh out loud and the other part wanted to run screaming from the building and into the arms of a Lemondrop martini. Sunday afternoon when I told my family about my co-volunteers they had a hearty laugh.

I think one of the members of the Evil Mommy Cabal of Stepford Knolls saw my name and said: “That witch, she hasn’t volunteered, bothered to call to ask if she can help, or showed up for a PTO meeting in almost a decade! Let’s show her slagtastic ass and put her with those cheerleader moms. This will be a hoot! Bookish, dorky June with those women.”

I should also explain the cheerleaders at my son’s school are a bigger deal than at most schools because they are national champions. In fact, athletics is a HUGE deal and our kids who play sports are recruited by first tier colleges and universities all over the country. I think this focus is why the post prom festivities at Beav’s school were geared to competitive athletic games and stunts. The Other High School is an International Baccalaureate school so I bet their After Prom had scintillating things like Math in the Dark Bowl, Speed Debate, and a spelling bee. But enough about that other school’s after prom party. This is how I was greeted arrived before the party started: (I swear I’m not exaggerating):

“Who are you? Are you a ‘Cheers’ mom?”
“Do I know you?”
Why are you here?” (add the 90’s lip curl everyone on 90210 did)

After this warm reception, I was assigned to an area behind a potted plant– where I was safely out of the way of the beautiful people’s parents– overseeing our little darlings shooting nerf arrows at (seriously) cute monkey cutouts whilst in the dark; one of the moms decided to hang with me for a few minutes and she discovered even though I have a son who isn’t an athlete Leader Of The Pack; I was actually a reasonable and nice human worthy of engaging in conversation. She was also interesting and funny; with an intelligent, sweet young woman for a daughter who will probably be coming out sometime in the middle of her freshman year at a school over a thousand miles away. I didn’t bring up her daughter’s sexual orientation because that would be presumptuous and very creepy. We also didn’t know each other well enough for me to ask: “So how’s PFLAG working for you and your husband?”

What’s really brilliant about women like this is they are so insular and so into themselves and their little worlds that beyond: “whose mom are you?” doesn’t exist for them so I don’t have to worry about lying or do the brave thing and come out. Women like this rarely ask a question over and above who my kid is. I learned twenty years ago that after discovering whose mom you are, inevitably the next question is which man you belong to. Because really in the Fabulous Suburbs you aren’t anything but a wife and mother, right?

I stood behind my potted plant and directed our kids to try their luck at shooting a monkey in the dark with a nerf version of The Hunger Games crossbows. And despite my jaundiced view of their mothers, I discovered as a whole our kids are genuinely polite and kind to one another, which made it fun to be a part of this teenaged ritual. I watched the herds of kids moving in and around the very well-disguised school as they played to their heart’s content, oblivious to the fact it was 2:00am and their parents were starting to look as bleary-eyed as they did sixteen or seventeen years ago. I love how my kids’ generation isn’t completely paired off and the thing to do seems to be a group date, which probably takes the drama down about six notches. Sometime I’ll tell you about my prom but a couple of the involved parties read this blog and I don’t think they want to relive it either. Besides its hard enough for me to type cogent typo free text without closing my eyes and wincing over my past regrettable behavior and a few of my classmates’ blatant disregard for their date’s feelings. I was reminded of this when I met another one of the cheerleaders.

This girl was on a real date and it was obvious she couldn’t stand him but he was completely smitten with her. I felt terrible for him and wanted to pull him aside and say something like: “Dude, she’s beautiful but–aside from her ridiculous mother–I think she’s probably the most shallow woman in the room. You can do better.”

Her mother was completely taken with her, too. But the mother’s pride was a mix of anger, jealousy, and hopelessness. This is usually what exists at the core of living through one’s child. It wasn’t hard to figure out her adoration came with a dark edge because of the bitter asides the mother made about her daughter. When I met this woman I immediately felt sorry for her. She is in her early forties and extremely beautiful, but at least one hundred pounds overweight and married to a man who was the most dismissive, disrespectful, and passive-aggressive husband I’ve seen in many years. For the love of God, it’s a miracle she isn’t one of those morbidly obese women who can’t leave her bedroom because she is too fat to walk or get through the door. My heart swelled in pity because she was probably deeply unhappy, assuaging her unhappiness and ire through food and this would eventually kill her. I stopped feeling sorry for her when she showed us a picture of her lovely daughter with a sweep of messy hair on her shoulders and proudly announced:

“This is the last time I fly in a hair dresser from Brazil to do her hair!”

So…um…just going around to the salon on the corner and spending $75 bucks wasn’t good enough for her pretty princess? Is this what we do in the suburbs now for prom? We fly in hairdressers? Whoa. Thank God I don’t have a daughter.

She hastily clarified: “Oh he didn’t come in JUST for this! He has family here. His cousin is the guy who does T—–‘s make up.”

Somehow this justification didn’t quell the bad taste in my mouth. A make-up artist? The poor lass doesn’t have fine motor control? She’s Dakota Fanning in a disguise? What the Hell are these people going to do when this girl gets married? Resurrect Max Factor to do her face? This cheerleader mom just raised the bar to an unspeakably high level. I think next year I’m going to volunteer to work with the cheerleader moms because I can’t wait to see what they do for senior year! Maybe they will fly in Miley Cyrus’ stylist because the poor dear can’t pick out a dress without help.

But jinkies, high school is hard even when you’re fifty-one.

About Laura

When my nest emptied I moved from the big city to a little big town to tend to a ramshackle yellow house on the edge of town. These are my Yellow House Days.
This entry was posted in memories, spring. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to #throwbackThursday or that time I spent after prom behind a potted plant

  1. You are so my kinda gal. Or mom. Whatever. You are.


  2. pia says:

    I grew up in an uber uh comfortable, competitive academic school district that my niece graduated from in 2012.

    She would call me crying. Her mother would call and tell me about the latest mother to “hate” her and the crowd mentality etc.

    I told my niece college would belong to her. She’s a junior at Barnard, spending the semester in Paris, and is a gorgeous kind person.

    Some people peak in high school. But the rest of us–the rest of life belongs to us


    • Laura says:

      Isn’t that the truth! The young woman with the make up artist and hair dresser wasn’t invited back to her college after Freshman year.


  3. Hi Laura! Oh aren’t you the brave one! And DID you go back and volunteer for senior year? Sometimes I think something like that might be fun and interesting and then later go, “uh NO!” As a women with no children, I didn’t ever get invited into that club and now face some resistance from all the “Grandmothers” out there. Still, I think it is healthy for those of us who walk a different path to show up and been seen just to show other young women that there are alternatives to the life of their mothers–good or bad. ~Kathy


    • Laura says:

      I did not volunteer senior year only because I was lazy. I applaud women who make the decision to not have children because I know a few women–in my mother’s generation–who became mothers because it’s what was expected but weren’t terribly interested in their children. I do think about how different my life would be without my sons. In some ways it would have been easier and in others it would have taken me a lot longer to grow up.


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