I spent the majority of my pre-Vassar life aggressively not caring about “popularity.” For example, in 6th grade, everyone had to do a research project for a class literally titled Research and Presentation. Because we were 13, most people did their research on their favorite athlete or a TV show. I did mine on the Black Plague. I didn’t have a lot of friends.
I wish that I could say these tranquil days of obliviousness towards others lasted. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Due to some dedicated Facebook stalking on the part of my Editor-in-Chief, my dark secret has been uncovered and I’m being forced to write a tell-all.
I was once Homecoming Queen.
I know, I know. You’re disappointed in me. You, Lily? Homecoming Queen? That seems odd, since you hide under a table at every given opportunity and can literally not restrain yourself from making jokes that people only find funny 42 percent of the time.
Yes, stranger (or, more likely, close personal friend or relation), yes. It happened. There was a tiara involved. Even worse, there was a sash. I had to stand in front of people and wave. I had to sit in a car and wave. I had to walk and wave. I did a lot of waving. My wrist strength improved ten-fold.
Being Homecoming Queen in a small town is a weird experience. In Coupeville, Washington, it is particularly strange, because there is a county-wide 5:1 cow to human ratio. The cows are allowed to vote. This is probably why I won.
Being Homecoming Queen is, essentially, a lose-lose situation. Much like any study abroad experience you have ever had, it’s not something you can causally mention without sounding like, for lack of a more delicate term, an asshole of epic proportions. Just as you can’t say, “Oh, I tried that type of pasta when I was in Italy,” without sounding pretentious, you can’t say, “Yeah, I was homecoming queen,” without sounding like you wore stilettos and lipstick to class while using subtle powers of manipulation to ruin the lives of everyone around you, a la Regina from “Mean Girls.”
Let’s all acknowledge for a second that high school is a weird time. You aren’t really a person yet, but you think that you are a person, and so that leads to making all sorts of crazy misinformed decisions, like the time I decided that the Class Council’s need for tinsel to decorate a dance was so urgent that it would be a good idea to drive to a friend’s house at twenty miles per hour over the speed limit with a friend in the car, even though I only had my permit. I JUST HAD TO GET THAT TINSEL. This, naturally, resulted in a $300 ticket and another talk from my parents telling me that I was not, in fact, a person.
Because of this general lack of ability to “think,” if you happen to win Homecoming Queen, at first it seems like a great thing! What could possibly be the negative consequences of winning what is LITERALLY a popularity contest (Seriously though. high schools everywhere are just quantifying popularity. This is messed up and someone should write a thesis on that because I think that is how social change comes about, right?)!?
Unfortunately, high schools are not the havens of tolerance and acceptance that most people (read: no one) think they are. In the year above me, there was a group of girls led by one gem of a human who called herself “Queen B****.” You can’t make this shit up.
Therefore, winning Homecoming Queen is not all roses and puppies. There are actually very few roses and absolutely no puppies involved, and I should be clear that I am not down for anything unless there are puppies around. This should have been my first warning sign.
Turns out, when you are Homecoming Queen, there will, guaranteed, be at least five girls who are PISSED at you (this is a pun that you will understand in two sentences) and are positive that you cheated. I kid you not, a rumor went around the school that I peed in trashcans. Have you ever peed in a trashcan? As a cis-woman, I can only assume that it would involve considerable flexibility that I do not possess.
This is not to say being Homecoming Queen is all bad. I got a pretty tiara. Some people were really nice (they obviously didn’t know that they should hide their trashcans from me lest I uncontrollably urinate in them). My mom gave me flowers. I got a free cow. Cat Fiore said “hi” to me the other day. Clearly, there are some bright sides. However, this is a cautionary tale. Don’t win popularity contests, kids. Stick with Powerpoints about the Black Plague. Much safer.