Saturday, September 12, 2009
We don't even have a wheel cover on the left front tire. "Not too many '97 Voyagers come down this street," Dave remarked as we turned around in a cul de sac after leaving the mongo house where Annika is having dinner with friends before they all head over to the Homecoming dance. "Oh, I disagree," I said. "Their cleaning people drive them. And maybe the fish people. And the pool people. And the light-changing people. And the flower people. And the yard service." Actually, my good friend's cleaning lady has a much nicer, newer minivan than me. It does occur to me when I visit my friends in neighborhoods just a scootch bit different than mine, when I drive through the gate the sentry probably assumes I'm a service person rather than a friend. Doesn't bother me none, just makes me smile. And feel glad my friends aren't put off by the difference in our economic status. Or, I hope, the lack of a wheel cover. Damn things keep falling off. We're back from the ritual picture-taking, just up the road, at her friend's house, about two miles and two million dollars from here. Annika asked me this afternoon about how we did the picture thing when I was in high school. We didn't. A boy came to the house with an orchid or a mum corsage. We awkwardly exchanged greetings with my parents. He fumbled with the flower, not wanting to touch me there, at least not in front of my father. I honestly don't remember ever taking pictures. And, thank heavens, none survived. I think there was a photo booth at the prom but not everyone availed themselves of it. You went out to dinner with, maybe, one other couple. You went to the dance. You went out 'parking.' You came home. No limos. No reservations for thirty-five, or sixty. No excursions to the Botanic Garden or an especially beautiful hotel lobby for photography. When my older daughter was a freshman in high school I discovered that we parents were invited to show up at 5:00 at one of the girl's home for pictures. It seemed like overkill for both Dave and me to take a few snapshots so I went off with the camera and showed up in whatever I'd been wearing that afternoon. Oops. I walked in to join a group of parents looking dressed for dinner at the country club, sipping wine and dipping celery into a low-fat dip. It was an event. After pictures on their terrace overlooking the lake, we were invited for to stay for cocktail hour. I fit right in. Or not. Eight years later, I've mastered the drill. When time came for my younger daughter's first Homecoming, we spent more hours looking for the best place to take pictures than for her dress. And it wasn't my idea. Just so you know. In fact, great drama was created by some of the other mothers around this very issue. Sigh. Sometimes the kids go out to eat and more recently, they have been having dinner together at somebody's home. The house is chosen for its photogenic qualities. We've got a gorgeous backyard but our house is not deemed suitable for inside pictures: ceilings too low. Tonight we had our choice of two staircases. The circular one in the entry hall won out. Of course, the initial plan was to pose the kids outdoors with the Scottish style golf course, its berms and bern, in the background. Too bad it was pouring rain. Our younger daughter is now a senior and she is SO done with all this. For the first two years there were hair appointments for updo's, manicure and pedicure appointments, make-up appointments, matching shoes, a wrap, flowers, jewelry. Today she came home from the football game and parade and lounged around in sweats until, oh, about an hour before departure. She took a shower, dried her hair, put on the dress she wore to another dance last year, found some shoes, decided they were too uncomfortable and left the house wearing flip flops. Don't tell Michael Kors. I wore jeans and a no-great-shakes shirt. Too bad. We drove the '97 minivan. It fit right in. Or not: among the SUV's and Audi's and Beemers and a lowly old Jeep Wagoneer. I'm sure the guard at the gate wondered what we were doing there. The hosts were lovely and we had wine and cheese and stood around waiting for everyone to arrive, the boys looking beyond uncomfortable in their dress shirts and ties, girls in adorable strapless, flirty dresses and, except for one very special young woman, glittery, matching shoes. Updo's and stunning, subtle jewelry, and a little glitter on the cheeks were de rigeur. They looked gorgeous! They're seniors now so the girls and boys don't separate as they used to, into tiny knots several feet apart; the awkwardness is gone. I found myself wondering..., oh, never mind. We parents stood in another room and shared small talk which, this year, has devolved into a theme and variations on, "my how time flies." Next September these kids will be scattered from East Coast to West and everywhere in between. I wonder what they all think of that. Everything is the last time for these kids, their last Homecoming, last first day of school, last football season. I wonder how many of them will ever see each other again. So it goes. I can't tell you how pleased I am that my daughter wore flip flops. She looked great!