Sunday, September 26, 2010

Home of the...Braves!

I went to high school in the 1900s. True story. I love how Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish that sounds. As if I will follow it up with something like, “And I walked five miles to school. Uphill. Both ways.” My walk was obviously not uphill both ways. But I did carry my cello to school once a week for one terrible year. And that was back when my giant permed hair and shellacked mall bangs weighed more than my bony little 4’ 10” body. The cello barely cleared the sidewalk by two inches, which did not bode well for winter days with significant snowfall.

When I realized that I would be home for my high school's homecoming parade, I knew I had to go. It had been 15 years since I left high school, which is the same amount of years current sophomores have been alive. Creepy. When I walked the two blocks from my parents' house to the parade and I passed well-maintained turn-of-the-century houses with well-manicured lawns covered in fall leaves and well-dressed little families wearing Braves merchandise in cherry and grey (my school's colors are cherry and grey, not red and grey), I felt as though I had stumbled onto a movie set. It honestly looked too precious to be real. I felt off-kilter, as if I couldn't tell if that moment was fiction or reality. I imagine that Marty McFly felt much the same way when he gazed at Hilldale after taking a ride in the DeLorian prior to going back to the future. Or maybe it was more like the last scene of “The Hills” in which Kristin says goodbye to Brodie and the camera pulls back to show (shock of shocks!) lights and other cameras, leaving you wondering how many of LC's mascara tears were legit.  In any event, the stroll down memory lane (which is actually called Park Street) made me remember all the things I love about my hometown.

Interestingly, the parade wasn' I remembered it. First of all, it was short. If I had sneezed, I would have missed it. Also, the floats didn't seem to involve much tissue paper or chicken wire, which confused me. Isn't that the very definition of a homecoming float? There weren't that many students actually on the floats, which was strange. Perhaps they were taking a stand as conscientious objectors of the new “no grinding” policy at school dances. Also, our awesome logo of a Native American brave in profile had been replaced by the logo of a PC (read: bo
ring) Native American blanket. I imagine that would put a damper on our signature shouting of “BRAVES!” following the Star Spangled Banner’s “And the home of the…” We certainly wouldn’t be shouting “BLANKET!” at that point, right?

On the other hand, there were several pleasant surprises—some of my former teachers were in the parade and remembered me, everyone seemed to be in a fantastic mood (most likely due to the lack of subway trouble—and subways—on their way into town), and admission to the homecoming football game was an absolute steal at $2.00 a head! I could've bought an admission ticket, two hot dogs, a soda (which is called "pop"), and two Ring Pops (meaning lollipops stuck on plastic rings, not sodas) for the cost of one beer in Manhattan. Incidentally, I learned that beer is not sold at high school football games. Curious. That doesn’t stop certain homeowners and their friends from drinking in their backyards while watching the game through their chain link fences, however. If I ever move home, becoming friends with said homeowners would be a top priority.

Everyone is just so trusting here. I had a hard time holding myself back when I saw a pile of backpacks belonging to marching band members just sitting on the grass under the bleachers. Was no one worried about theft?! As high schoolers, they probably only had extra sweatshirts and Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers in those bags, but still.  Those sweatshirts and Lip Smackers were probably their only possessions in the world. Wouldn’t they want to guard them with their lives? After living in Manhattan for so long, I get nervous when my purse isn't in direct contact with my body at all times.

Do New York City schools have homecomings? They certainly don't have homecoming parades, as far as I can tell. The parade market seems to have been cornered by the Puerto Ricans. Manhattan schools might still have school spirit activities and a dance with a homecoming court, I suppose. If so, kids would probably start competing to be homecoming king and queen at the same insanely early, post-natal/pre-potty training time that their school admission forms are due. Without a homecoming king and queen flaunting their superiority from the backseat of a convertible, how do students identify the prettiest people in school? Could city kids actually be missing this very important rite of passage?

I am eternally thankful I went to a high school with a full-scale homecoming. It's one experience Manhattan can't quite replicate. That one autumn week packed with float building, dress-up days, activity nights, school dances, football watching, and parade walking is magical. Exhausting, but magical. I still get a chill at the beginning of every Yankees game when the Star Spangled Banner plays. The crowd is courteously quiet through the last note, but I always hear all the people from every one of my high school football games shouting: “BRAVES!!!”


  1. I love this! So true about the perks of having a homecoming! Who didn't want to be queen...or the randoms drinking the booze behind the fence?

  2. I still shout BRAVES at the end of the SSB. Once a Brave, always a Brave.

  3. Where did you go to high school? Sounds like heaven! I wish I went to school there.

  4. It's not heaven. It's Iowa.

    (Actually, it's not Iowa. It's upstate New York. But a Field of Dreams reference seemed to be in order.)

  5. Mmmm....Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker!

  6. Correction: I have just been informed that the school's new logo is not a blanket as I mentioned, but a "friendship belt." The change came about through an agreement with local Iroquois tribes. I still say that a brave in profile trumps a blanket-looking friendship belt any day of the week.

  7. Homecomings are great to see a lot of "old" friends and to have a good time remembering "the good old days".