The Coin: Homecoming Dance: A Tragic Perspective

Study hall ends. I take a slow, prolonged sip of my drink, staring out the window. Thus marks the end of yet another day of abject suffering at Reserve—long classes, grueling coursework, a demanding schedule. The door bursts open,and I groan instinctively. My roommate’s shrill voice pierces the peace and tranquility of my cramped room in The Athenaeum. “Yo,” he says, “You should totally ask so-and-so to homecoming.”

I stare at him, resisting the urge to lob my glass at his face. Very funny, Yashaswi ’18. He stares back. I realize he’s being serious and I double over with laughter, unwittingly snorting my drink into my nose. “No way,” I respond after regaining my composure, “this has got to be a joke.” Yashu’s enthusiastic expression is replaced with one of puzzlement. “Why the heck not?” he asks.

Slowly, I place the palm of my hand on my face. “She’s up here,” I explain with hand gestures. “And I’m down here. Look at her. Then look at me. I’m the ugliest, dumbest, least put-together person in a twenty-mile radius, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before she says yes.” Yashu rolls his eyes. I continue my rant: “I’m a realist, dude. The moment she sees my stupid poster, she’s going to sprint in the opposite direction at Olympic-qualifying time.”

As the least eligible homecoming date on the planet, I’ve had similar conversations with various classmates over the last three and half years. In fact, I hold the distinction of being one of the very few four-year seniors who still hasn’t asked anyone to a single dance at Reserve. Indeed, I was approached by my fellow editors at the Reserve Record after they failed to find a student who expressed a willingness to compose a lengthy rant against homecoming.

Quite frankly, it would be naive to portray Reserve’s social scene as “open,” “relaxed,” or “laid back.” I suppose if you’re a naturally confident, Vineyard Vinesagonia-clad varsity athlete with Gucci sneakers and fifty thousand Instagram followers, you might consider social events “fun”. Being at or near the top of the food chain affords you certain privileges, after all—such as a panglossian, rose-tinted view of high school events.

Unfortunately, by some cruel twist of fate, I find myself on the very bottom of the social totem pole. For starters, I have the fashion sense of a hobo—a mediocre haircut, ill-fitting suit, pleather shoes, and bare skin where a Rolex ought to be. There is no way that I—with my empty wallet and unrefined, plebeian tastes—could appreciate a meal at Downtown 140 or Rosewood Grill. Chronic social anxiety and bumbling clumsiness doesn’t help either. How could an uncouth, uncultured, unpolished nobody like me ever fit in at an upscale dining establishment? Or in front of a camera? Or on the dance floor? Simply put, my life is an L. A big, fat L.

Why does half my article consist of a somewhat spoiled, self-deprecating, self-pitying screed, you ask? The cold, hard reality is that homecoming is awesome—only if you’re not an unintelligent, unattractive, and unpolished loser like me. High schools are cruel, dog-eat-dog environments, and WRA is no exception. Any rational cost-benefit analysis will indicate that I shouldn’t even bother asking anyone to any dance—because nobody would ever say yes—so why expose myself to ridicule and humiliation? In the digital age, there will always be a copy of your most embarrassing moments.

You still might find it incredulous that there is, in fact, an article against homecoming. Let me be clear that I do not oppose all that is fun. But I am offering another perspective—one from a socially awkward introvert. For someone like me, community affairs are nerve-racking. I do not claim to be clairvoyant, and therefore I have little to offer in the way of prognostications. In two decades you might happily reminisce about the four years you spent on the lawn’s wide sweep. You might be drowning in misery and despair at the realization that your life peaked in high school. Perhaps you might, in fact, regret not asking your crush. But in all likelihood, you will be preoccupied with the wretched struggle that is your quotidian existence—a life of unrealized ambitions, corporate backstabbing, nasty divorces, tax returns, and tortuous aging. Trust me: the thought of whether you should’ve asked that person to homecoming 20 years ago is going to be the least of your struggles.

– Ying Ka Leung ’18

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