Monday, October 18, 2004

"Billy Jean" On A Cattle Car

So, another thing I am ashamed to admit is that I actually wanted my husband to ask me to go to the BYU Homecoming dance. You see, we’ve been married for nearly four years and I figured it was about time to get dressed up in something other than waist-high gaters and three layers of fleece to go out on a date. I wanted to primp, to spend weeks planning my outfit, and to see a look of surprise and admiration on Mike’s face when he knocked on the door to pick me up for our big Homecoming date. Did I tell him this? No, don’t be silly. But I reserved the right to be ticked off if he didn’t ask me—that’s what makes me so fascinating, and not a little bit scary.

“Oh, I wish Mike would ask me to Homecoming,” I wistfully told my mother one day. Her response was short and startlingly to the point: “Don’t hold your breath.”

So I didn’t hold my breath. In fact, I forgot all about it until one day I noticed a sign for the “Blue and White Ball,” which was the formal Homecoming dance, held at the State Capital. “Ah, the possibilities,” I said (I think out loud) and I started to imagine myself wearing a ball gown ala Gwyneth Paltrow’s at the 1999 Oscars (not the hideous, see-through mesh, gothic dress with matching black eye-liner. I mean the delicate, feminine, light pink one she wore when she won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love). Add this day dream to the fact that one of my more vocal (think obnoxious) freshmen point-blank asked me if my husband was taking me to Homecoming, and you’ll have the classic recipe for a major bee in my bonnet. I lied and told my freshman that “I got married to avoid getting dressed up and making a fool of myself at dances,” adding that “I also got married to avoid playing volleyball,” but the damage had been done.

“Come to think of it,” I told myself, “Why DIDN’T Mike ask me to Homecoming? Don’t I deserve a night out?” This was my mantra all afternoon and evening, while I thanklessly prepared a beautiful dinner and cleaned up all the dishes (I am the victim, people. I implore you…). Mike was oblivious to my inner rage, which increased with every word he said. His innocent “pass the peas” translated into “I am a selfish jerk. Pass the peas, woman.”

Things came to a head that night as we were falling asleep:

“So my Spanish teacher’s husband asked her to Homecoming in front of the whole class,” he said with a yawn. “He made her a gingerbread train and the card said ‘come se dice ‘will you go to Homecoming on the Heber Creeper with me?’ en Espanol?’ She was so surprised.”

I managed to get in a bitter “that’s nice” before he was snoring away. So I did what all calm and rational people would have done: I slept on the couch. That’s the way to punish ‘em, all right: sleeping on a munchkin-sized couch all night while they lie in the middle of the bed, unaware of what you are doing or where you are. Carly 1, Mike 0.

The next morning I explained as best as I could how fightin’ mad I was at Mike. I think I may have mentioned that “we never do anything that I want to do,” as well as the ever-popular “it’s always all about YOU.” Ah, the shame. Mike bore it as best as one could expect and I spent the entire day with an “I’m-bitter-because-I’m-not-going-to-a freshmen-dance” kind of attitude you might expect from a real freshman, but certainly not a sophisticated writing teacher who reads David Sedaris and laughs out loud.

Later that day I found a Homecoming ticket wedged in our two-year-old’s battery operated choo choo train. I don’t want to get cheesy, here, but the note did say “you put the ‘toot’ in my whistle. Will you go to Homecoming on the Heber Creeper with me?” At that, all was forgiven. You can probably imagine how ridiculous I felt when Mike told me he had the ticket all along (though today I found out that he was lying, but that’s okay, cause I deserved to be lied to). But I soon replaced my remorse with plans for wearing my hair down and with a flower behind my ear like Drew Barrymore. . .

Heber Creeper Train Depot, 8:00pm: We board the train, bewildered at the energy that the people around us seemed to possess so close to bed time. We found some seats next to the Spanish teacher and her reluctant husband, who both looked as disoriented and tired as we were. We danced, to be sure, but after so many songs from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” we kind of ran out of moves. Mostly, we sat on our seats, making fun of people’s clothes and clucking our tongues at Honor Code violations, of which there were 41. I guess Homecoming on a train is really an activity for the young folks. In fact, after I saw one of my very own students there, I mentioned how much our two-year-old would love going on the Heber Creeper: “Let’s come again with Holden,” I yelled to Mike, my voice barely audible above Mariah Carey’s “Dream Lover.”

When we finally got off the train, feeling more like we’d been hit with it than like we’d danced the night away on it, I took Mike’s arm. “Thank you for bringing me to this,” I said. “It was very thoughtful and now we know that we never have to do this again. We can close this chapter of our lives for good.” Mike agreed, and we hobbled to the car, me in my pre-pregnancy “cruel shoes,” and Mike in his hardly-worn dress shoes.

And you know, I have closed the dance chapter of my life. The Spanish teacher said it best when she observed that “this dance would be a lot more fun if I were a freshman, and if I were going with some guy that I really, really LIKED.” Hahaha. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really LIKE Mike, but I’ve found that I like him better in gaters, snowshoeing through Diamond Fork Canyon than in a tie, bobbing his head to “Billy Jean” on a cattle car.


  1. I laughed sooo hard and soooo loud at the reading of this post, that my boss came into my office to ask me what was so funny. That my friend, is how you know it's good. As an unmarried, never been to homecoming 26 year old, I have to say, I'm slightly jealous.

  2. Hahahahahahaha!

    A) Love it.
    B) Really love the "Sliding Doors" reference.
    C) REALLY REALLY love the Steve Martin reference.
    D) I only went to BYU's Homecoming once...I was a Freshman.

  3. you are fantastic.

    i think i love you.

    `nicole ;)

  4. Wow... I never went to a BYU Homecoming, and I was there for 5 of them. I sure did go to "Preference" though. You know what Preference means: your turn to ask your husband. I mean... it's only fair, right?