Barbecues and tailgate parties before the Saturday afternoon football game. Breakfasts for sororities and fraternities at ungodly hours of the morning. And a musical theatre production downtown at the civic center.
It’s a big deal.
But not nearly as big a deal as it was to me in 1980.
There was this boy I liked who had asked me to be his date to Homecoming.
Because I was in the band, I had to be at the stadium early Saturday afternoon. So our plan was for him to pick me up, give me my mum, and take me to the stadium. Then we’d go out after the game.
I couldn’t wait.
Especially for that mum.
Mums are like personal billboards that say somebody has invested in you. Billboards with a built-in sound system in the form of a cowbell clanking out the message that somebody wants you.
Saturday came and I waited. Time came to leave for the stadium and I was still waiting. Time came for me to be in my place at the stadium and still no boy. No mum.
I drove to the stadium by myself.
I sat there during the whole game in the stands with the band wondering where he was.
At one point after we marched on the field at halftime I looked over and spotted him in a crowd of people, looking like he was searching for someone.
“Hey!” I wanted to scream. “I’m over here – in the band – remember?!!”
He never came to see me at the game.
He was pledging a fraternity that semester and he’d had to help with the breakfast that morning for all the alums in for Homecoming. Standing there on the sidewalk holding a mum box at ten o’clock at night, he told me that he’d been so tired from being up the night before that he went to sleep after the breakfast and didn’t wake up until halfway through the game.
At least that was his story.
And he smelled so good that I believed him.