Asheville, North Carolina
You lived in the big hair, preppy
Part of the late 70s,
Wore socks with high heels
Cowl neck sweaters
Plaids with Izods
And Calvin Klein jeans
You weaseled out of Homeroom
For any board game or none,
Skipped class all day
To decorate for the Junior prom.
[“Boogie, Oogie, Oogie”]
Your date was the class president
Who took you anyway, even after
You got suspended for skipping class
And drinking with your buddies
But the principal let you attend
So you proudly made your red satin
Strapless formal from $20 worth of remnants
From the Piece Goods Store
That somehow looked chic with the lace jacket.
[“What a Fool Believes”]
He smelled like honey
When you kissed him
Though it never happened again
Still, another entry on your Kiss List,
Complete with ratings and comments—
That you wish you still had.
Later, you sobbed at the Catholic church downtown
During the funeral of the cute girl
Who drove into a light pole
After the prom breakfast at your cousin’s house.
Remember Renee S.? She sang
“Wouldn’t it Be Loverly” at the talent show.
[“Don’t Cry Out Loud”]
Then you didn’t go to the Senior prom
Because you were dating someone 25,
And who cares anyway?
You rocked to the Hair Bands
While making out in the back seat of
A barely running Vega
[“Knock on Wood”]
With the head cheerleader’s boyfriend,
Avoiding hickies but absorbing
Violent guitarwork by Eddie Van Halen.
You lay out in the sun
With baby oil and iodine
Bought Bonne Bell strawberry lip gloss
At the Woolworth’s in the mall
And hoped to test it on someone,
Ate McDonald’s french fries late
On a Saturday night
Nowhere else to go but
Cruisin’ Patton Avenue, driving down
And turning around at the light.
Were those cute guys from another school
In the pick-up over there looking at you?
So you hung out with short-haired Dana H.,
Who had gone all-the-way already
You both downed Boone’s Farm
Tickle Pink or whatever
Someone could mooch
Or use a sister’s ID to buy
Before the Friday night football game
Where you marched in the rifle corps
[“Hot Child in the City”]
Then bummed a ride to the Pizza Hut
Where that trumpet player, Danny H., who
Used to be a geek but now is
Kinda cool might be
[“Da Ya Think I’m Sexy”]
Or said good-night to Dad in PJs
Over street clothes
Then snuck out to cruise for boys
[“Rock with You”]
But just to flirt
Meanwhile, avoiding the schoolbus
At all costs, which was only for kids
[“Take a Chance on Me”]
And those who didn’t earn enough
At the KFC job that summer
Since you didn’t have a father
Like lead majorette Susie D.,
Who gave her a new white Lincoln.
You showed up for graduation
Night so sunburned you avoided
Smiling because it hurt,
Then went to Doc’s Rock Shop
To disco, no, to meet guys, no
Because it was hip to sneak in
[“Shake Your Groove Thing”]
With a wave from the owner
Who thought you were old enough
Because you’d been going for
Years—then met your new
[“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”]
Summer romance, a 6’4” red-headed
Tight end local football hero
[“I Want You to Want Me”]
Who later didn’t return your calls
When you went off to college in the fall
[“Heart of Glass”]
Which seemed like a tragedy so you wrote
Sappy poetry about it
[“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”]
Until you started to date the guy from Long Island
In the sax section who always had cash
[“I Will Survive”]
Because he waited tables at the
Western Sizzlin’ and saved you from the
That came less from fact
Than from being assigned a single room
[“Another Brick in the Wall”]
In a dormitory of a small gossipy college
Where you ate too much starch and
Gained the requisite freshman pounds
Though you lost them 10 years later
[“Dust in the Wind”]
When you didn’t reply to the invitation
To attend the 10-year class reunion
Because you lived in Tokyo.
[“Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”]
Turned out it was held
At a sleazy motel anyway.
Then you skipped the 20-year
Because it took place
On picnic tables at the
High school cafeteria
Even though you lived closer then.
So you planned to go to the 25-year because,
[“We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You”]
Hell, why not?
Once you decided, you kept dreaming about
That guy Tom B.
Whom you didn’t even like
[“Baby Come Back”]
And who’s now rich and divorced.
He e-mailed you for a while
But you dissed him
Because he didn’t write well
And you are happily married,
Or there’s your former best friend
Kim B. who used to be a writer
[“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”]
But now is a masseuse and a talkaholic.
Instead you became good friends
With other classmates—
Annette whom you’re getting to know now
And Clay—who founded the
And has untapped sports writing talent
But mostly makes you laugh.
Your new old friends
After years of e-mail and sanity checks
You determine to see
After you fly 3000 miles to
[“Please Don’t Go”]
Compare your body to the
Bodies of your former colleagues
By proximity only.
Should you lift weights?
Take up running again?
[“Ride Like the Wind”]
Eat more veggies? Sure,
And buy a floor-me dress
Because you can
Show off your worldly
Slim hips to the roomful of strangers
Who meant so little
You can’t recall their names
Now that you have a baby girl
And can hardly squint
To imagine high school again
Except for maybe seeing it through her eyes.