In high school, I was lucky enough to be the vice-president (or was it secretary…I legitimately cannot remember) (or Treasurer, was that a thing?) of the Honor Society at my school. A close friend of mine was the President and somehow we were tasked with the very important job of putting on a school dance towards the end of the school year. This dance was called Tolo.
Our school, and maybe only schools up in our county call it that, but really it is a dance where historically, the girl asks the guy to the dance. I have recently learned that many other schools call this concept Sadie Hawkins. Or something like that. Honestly, none of that matters. It is a school dance, more commonly known as the dance where girls would look glam-awkward and the guys would look dapper-odd. I’m clearly talking about the good ole days, where young adults hadn’t learned how to contour and do amazing makeup on YouTube and Pinterest. I mean, my grandkids are going to look so great! And they will look back at all my school dance photos and cringe like I do. ACK!
Anyway, all the other dances were put on by very reputable groups. I know you’re probably thinking that the FRIGGIN HONOR SOCIETY must be the most trustworthy group, but you would be wrong. Children that are all-knowing should be supervised. I’ll say that forever and ever, because I was that child. Anyway, I digress. The all-esteemed president and I convened, which is what I call the planning party where I convinced her we make the theme Hawaiian Luau (I KNOW) and she listened to all my crazy ideas that were very pineapple-centric. I should add that I recently took the Strenghthfinders test, where they determine your top five strengths. I think my number two was Woo. I thought that referred to my very common WOO I will yell at random occasions. No. It is my power of persuasion. Awesome. It was in full force on this senior year night.
So I got what I wanted here. A Hawaiian party where we could make a ton of decorations and not have to wear a dress and still have fun. Definitely win-win.
I asked a friend to go with me, but not as my date. I had zero interest in him and told him I would take him to McDonalds for dinner. I was that serious.
We arrived at the party and the prezzy and I went off to handle a lot of logistical, background tasks. At least, that is what I told my friend. Really, I could see he had some hopes up and I wasn’t about to encourage that. Besides, we did have some actual duties, like reminding attendees to vote for the dance royalty. I was dreading this part.
Now, yes, I recognize that our spring Sadie Hawkins dance, or whatever you want to call it, pales in comparison to football homecoming. There isn’t a float parade or special assembly for it. There is, however, still a high school hierarchy that decides the winners. You know the one I’m referring to, if you’ve ever been in high school. The pretty and cool (those are not independent of each other) kids in the fun clique all vote for whoever is next on their list. I was never in this clique so I especially saw it and the effects it had on the very large population of students who continually feel left out or unseen.
We did our announcement, reminding everyone one last time to come over and get their votes in. As we waited anxiously for the time to run out, we chatted about who our money was on to win King & Queen. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t the preppy group. I mean, they are always good looking kids! We just knew the possibilities were a small group of people. When it was finally time we grabbed the box from the rando that had been manning that table and headed back into a private room to “count them.”
Now, you’re probably wondering why that was in quotations. It is because this wasn’t the most popular dance, and even with a pretty decent number of students there, not everyone voted. The whole process could have taken us less than five minutes and we could deliver our hula girl prizes (I might not be remembering that correctly, but this was in a recent dream so let’s go with it) to the winning couples. It felt sort of exhilarating, to know the outcome before announcing the winner to a group. I can only imagine how the committee who knows Oscar, Grammy, and Tony winners first feel. We decide (it was her, the president, because she’s a math wizard) to make piles first and then count, in the event a count was needed. You know, in case that group couldn’t pick one clear winning couple.
As we started creating the piles, I got this sudden urge to rip them all up. I didn’t, but I recognized it was there. I was seeing popular after popular and realized this was probably my only chance ever to be a part of something revolutionary at this school. I mean, if you didn’t count the recent stint of suspended days I had recently served because I had “caused too much of a scene when a fellow classmate had made racist comments to a friend.” After I continued to cause said scene I also yelled for justice. How could I be suspended for defending her and he not be defended for making the racist remarks? Right? Right. End story? We both got suspended and I was 100% fine with that.
“You know,” I said to my friend, “do we really have to count these? Who would it hurt if we picked our own winners?”
She turned to me and smiled. “Did you have anyone in mind?”
I sure did. This dance was the first time, in my high school years, that I had seen a same-sex couple attend. Two ladies, looking super cute and semi-uncomfortable, had bought their tickets and shown up. There had been whisperings for the two weeks leading up to it because it was scandalous and amazing and unheard of. I was a big fan. I wanted to tip the scales and announce them Queen and Queen.
There is something to be said about growing up in farm country. You see, over and over, the normalcy of hetero relationships was prevalent. You are raised with this confusing rhetoric that you will grow up and marry a man, but not before you get some sort of post-secondary education’ you will have children but not before you buy a house, etc. Not everyone follows the rules and they suffer harsh judgement from it, however short-lived that may be. Seeing these two ladies take each other to this dance was so brave and encouraging. It also showed that our little corner of the county had more diversity than just ethnic differences.
My co-conspirator was in my corner and it made me so happy. Not that we had to help these ladies too much. If I’m being completely honest, we only “helped” them with less than ten votes. That was what helped me push my integrity aside so fast! I wasn’t the only one who wanted so desperately to see this change! My president just had one request, that I gladly accepted.
As we took the stage to announce all the winning couples, including prince and princess, my heart began to race. I was sure everyone could hear it through the microphone, that familiar boom-boom of not following a rule. The agreement had been that I would announce the two lesser royalty and she would announce the queens. And queens they were! Amidst the looks of shock were many of happiness. They came up so gracefully and danced so beautifully right after, It was amazing and we very non-discreetly high fived as we walked off the stage.
I will forever call this my greatest achievement of high school, very equivalent to fighting against racism. The thing is, nothing ever changes unless you break some rules, I suppose.