Posts Tagged ‘love’

Kari Cruz: Prom

Monday, April 5th, 2010

In my senior year of high school I diagnosed myself with a little something I like to call F.M.S. It stands for ‘Fear of Missing Something.’ Yeah, I made it up- but, let me explain.

It started during my winter break when I (very un-glamorously) fractured my ankle while walking down a flight of stairs. For 4 months after the incident I was confined to a cast and then a hideous grey boot. I still have nightmares about that boot. Not only was it my first major injury, but it also happened during the week my parents planned on leaving town & my high school basketball team made it to the championships. To top it all off- I also risked having to wear it during my senior trip and prom.

Luckily, the doctor gave me the green light to remove the boot days before my prom! But, I still had one problem- an older boyfriend that wanted nothing to do with prom. Agh, the anxiety of it all. So I’d say to myself ‘Play it cool, Cruz. It’s ONLY prom!’ But, that wasn’t completely true. Prom was the day most young girls looked forward to since they were even aware of the word! I mean, people make movies about this kind of stuff. Prom is a big deal; it’s the time to shine- right? I didn’t want to be stuck wondering ‘what if I had gone…’

Still, I avoided the topic. So when everyone was dress shopping and picking couples to share limos with- I sat back and watched. Secretly, I was the biggest prom geek in my crew and the only dateless one. Go figure! So I looked at my options- sulk or do something about it. I didn’t want to regret not knowing what prom was like, so I forced my best friend into being my counterpart. Up until that day I needed a crutch (literally & figuratively), so it felt good to finally take action on my own.

In less than 2 weeks I found a hot dress, killer red heels, ditched the limo and did prom my own way. I didn’t know what to expect but in my mind, I was still thinking this would be the biggest day of my life. Once I got there, I watched the couples trickle in and looked at all the gorgeous dresses in the room. And slowly, people were just grouping around me! In fact, my friends that were there with dates were equally as awkward. Prom actually wasn’t that different from a normal day in the cafeteria- except we were all in expensive dresses and lots of makeup. These were people I had known forever and I felt so silly having worried about it until that point. In fact, my expectations were too high. Once I got over that, I was able to just chill out, have fun with my friends and leave my anxiety at the door. I didn’t even care about the ‘final dance’ at the end of the night because the truth is- you are thinking about getting out of those heels & heading to the afterparty anyway.

You see, my F.M.S wasn’t about giving into the prom hype- but more about have the courage to do things I’d been too shy to admit. Why not challenge tradition? Why not do it my own way? What’s the worse thing that could happen? And if you’re still wondering about the boyfriend, he didn’t work out for the long-term either. All for the better!

How are your preparations going? Leave us a comment, and don’t forget to check Kari’s blog. Enjoy!

The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times. By Kat Fierce

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

“Best years of my life,” says my mom. “I was senior vice president and played Maria in West Side Story!” As she reminisces, she’s standing at the stove cooking me a plate of vegetables. She’s more enthusiastic than usual. I’d guess starring in her high school play far overshadows the pleasures of cooking broccoli. “My favorite part was Klompen Dancing. Enjoy these years, Kat. They go by so fast and you’ll never get them back.”

An aside for those of you growing up in most of America: Klompen Dancing is where people dress up in traditional Dutch outfits and “klomp” their wooden shoes on the pavement; sort of like stomp but with pointy hats. It’s about as cool as it sounds. I spend most of my dinner wondering if I’m adopted.

My suspicions are settled when I talk with my father, who offers an opinion more in line with my own.

“Awful. Just awful. You have no idea who you are. Adults rule your life and you’re not allowed to do anything you want.”

I tell him I’ll have an easier time finding myself if he extends my curfew. I’m nothing if not an opportunist. He says, “Nice try.”

Since I don’t get to stay out until 4AM, I spend some time thinking about what they both said. I realize these polarized opinions also run rampant through my school. As for me, I’ve pretty much skewed towards the suck side of the scale, and know loads of kids who share my sentiments. On the other hand, a quick walk through the halls and you’ll find the opposite opinion written over the turd-eating grins of the very merry cheerleaders, and the like. As my mom and dad said, when it comes to high school, people seem to love it or hate it. (Granted my parents aren’t the only living post high school folk, but I don’t know too many other adults. All of my friends are my age. Sue me.)

But since when did my parents know everything?

For those in the “best four-years of your life” camp, aren’t you setting the rest of your existence up to be downhill from graduation? Everything in your adult years (and there are a lot more than four) will live in the shadows of cheerleading for the Mighty Wolverines or whatever. Just imagine a thirty-eight year  old journalist saying, “Being an independent, successful editor-in-chief of this incredibly popular magazine is alright, but it’ll never beat doing back hand springs for acne faced football players.” It’s a little ridiculous. Yet, it seems like my mom considers high school her peak. And everything that follows is worse than dancing in a Dutch costume. Like I said, I’m not looking to be anything like my parents.

On the other hand, if you expect something to suck, it probably will. (Or the saying I prefer:  Expect suckage and ye shall get it.” That’s an official Kat Fierce proverb. Feel free to cross-stitch it on a pillow or something.) Here’s what I mean. Say, hypothetically, you get invited to a party. You’re excited, understandably. You love you some shindigs. That is, until you hear rumors that the event is widely known as the worst party of the year. (For some of you this may be the prom.) Reluctantly, you attend anyway. You’ve already RSVP-ed, so what can you do? Like walking into class Monday morning, you totally expect the night to suck. Since it’s hard to dance and complain at the same time, you go find a porch or a quiet corner and look for the first person who’ll agree to get the hell out of Dodge. Hopefully they’ll have a cool car.

Now, say your crush shows up. Looking for you. But you caught a ride. No point in spending the night staring into your cup. Unable to find you, your crush gets into a conversation with another chick. They agree to go on a date. It goes well. Well enough for him to forget it was you he was looking for in the first place. What could have been your amazing night, turns into the joys of watching them cuddle during lunch every freaking afternoon forever and ever. All because you convinced yourself the night would be a snooze long before the sun set. In short, you never gave it a chance.

Granted that’s a total worst case scenario. And the moral here isn’t, “High school is just one big party. So get on the dance floor and give it all you got!” That’s lame. (Super lame. It reminds me of those crappy posters math teacher’s love to put up. Like, “Geometry! It’s not just for squares!”) The point is, you can’t label any part of your life as the “best” or the “worst.” It just “is.” Let the cheerleaders dread graduation and the goth kids whine “four years of soul tears.” But are we gonna let their perceptions be our reality? Can I get a, “Hell no?!”

The reality is, high school is what you make it. Maybe you make some friends. Maybe you make an A in ceramics. But whatever these four years render, it should be nothing more that your minute-by-minute, original experience; prefabricated opinions be damned. By expecting nothing you open yourself to everything. So, you know, kiss the boy! Audition for the band! Get on the dance floor and give it all you got!

(Just, do me a favor. Don’t quote me directly on that dance floor bit.)

Gunning From The Top Of The Driveway. By James Sullivan

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Yet it wasn’t all doom and gloom. We loved the primitive first wave of video games. We loved our first portable cassette (cassette!) player. And we really loved the rise of the NBA, led by a generation of superhuman athletes wearing signature lines of Converse hoop shoes.

There had, of course, been some incredible basketball players in the days of the canvas high-top, when virtually every pro player (and virtually every kid) wore Chucks. But the game changed exponentially when Cons went leather in the ‘70s. Suddenly, we all wanted to dunk; we all wanted to drive the length of the court and take off from the top of the key, finishing with a majestic fingertip roll.

By the end of the decade, I was spending countless hours, even on frigid days, imagining outrageous buzzer-beaters and punishing my misses with foul shots. One day my mother’s car was in the way, so I found the keys and backed it down the driveway – with the door open. It took months of foul shots to work off the ugly sound of the door catching the rock wall and crumpling like a tin can.

I played most of my one-on-one against a quiet, distracted kid from the end of the street, a lanky, stork-like guy who was easily six inches taller than me. He was a soft-touch lefty shooter and, against me, anyway, a shot blocker worthy of the nickname Tree. But playing against him forced me to change my game. Over time, I became adept at fallaway jumpers and, my specialty, a quick stop-and-pop from the corner. In my beloved white leather Converse – blue star, blue arrow — I learned to work the angles, to hustle after missed shots and grab position on rebounds. For a few summers, I held my own, until the kid shot past the six-foot mark on his way to the 6’ 7” or so that he ultimately reached.

Later, I played a lot of pickup games with my high school buddies, some of whom were on the team. In college, the regulars from my building included a couple of big guys who’d reached the states with their high school teams. Sometimes I got my clock cleaned. Sometimes, though, I’d surprise everyone by making five or six baskets in a row. Few things in life satisfy as much as the thoop of hitting nothing but net.

Competitive basketball isn’t a lifelong game for a vertically challenged guy who knows that five-ten might be bending the truth. But I still get excited to lace ‘em up, and I’ll never turn down an open shot.

And outside, there’s a nine-year-old boy in his Chucks, gunning from the top of the driveway.

James Sullivan is a Boston-based writer whose most recent book is The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved The Soul Of America. James has also written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone, The Boston Globe, and eMusic.com. Learn more about James at www.placeformystuff.com.

It Was No Ordinary Wedding Reception. By James Sullivan

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Most of all, there were no patent leather rental shoes. There were, however, plenty of Chucks. Which should tell you just about all you need to know.

The groom, a good friend I’d met years ago, when we were both living in New Orleans, is a film editor who spends a majority of his non-working hours surfing off Coney Island. The bride, no shrinking violet, wore a sleeveless wedding gown on a drizzly night and kicked off the live-band karaoke by serenading her husband with a saucy version of “Centerfold.”

The reception was held at a beer garden-style hipsters’ hangout in an old mechanics’ garage near the Brooklyn Museum. The framed photos on the walls weren’t from the family albums of the happy couple — they were part of the bar’s décor, random shots of anonymous people probably plucked from thrift stores. The guests suffered no chicken cordon bleu. They built their own outrageous tacos on the buffet line, catered by the bride and groom’s favorite neighborhood taqueria.

“Dress Nice,” read the invitation, printed to look like a concert ticket. Given the setting and the loose instructions, there was little in the way of fashion consensus. Some guys wore jackets and open collars; some wore leather and corduroy. There were funky hats and vintage dresses. For all the variety, the closest thing to a constant was the rainbow array of Converse on the dance floor.

The band in the corner, led by a moonlighting frontman whose first novel was getting some major attention, pumped out up-tempo true-love tunes all night. Guests were invited to sign up and sing. One guy-girl duet got up and belted out some honky-tonk. “We got married in a fever,” they began, and the whole place erupted.

The trend toward Chucks at weddings sure seems to be gaining momentum. Wedding blogs are full of chatter about couples rockin’ their high-tops and outfitting their groomsmen, and even their bridesmaids, in matching All-Stars. There’s even an official customizing option, including stamping the wedding date on the back of the shoe.

All of which raises a question: Are Chucks getting – heaven forbid — fancy? More to the point, it seems that weddings are just getting funner. And it’s about time. Chucks may have been designed for basketball, but their real purpose is for clicking heels. A wedding party in Chucks? Unforgettable, in every way.

James Sullivan is a Boston-based writer whose most recent book is The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved The Soul Of America. James has also written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone, The Boston Globe, and eMusic.com. Learn more about James at www.placeformystuff.com.

I Once Asked A Woman… By Glide B. Free.

Friday, June 12th, 2009

“What?” she asked, and not as if she hadn’t heard. More like “What? – who would ever ask a question like that.?”

“Has anyone ever proposed to you?” I asked again, this time with a little extra careless savoir-faire to cover up the fact that I knew I shouldn’t have asked. She had just seemed to me like the kind of person who might get proposed to on the first or second date.

It was already kind of a strange date – we had gotten Persian take-out for dinner and were at an arena football game – so while the question was pretty surprising, the threshold of the bizarre was higher than normal. She answered me as simply and honestly as if I had asked about the weather.

“Yes, this clown in Seattle once proposed to me.”

That seemed kind of harsh, I thought. “Why do you call him a clown?’

“He was a clown,” she said. “He was on a street corner down by the market wearing funny pants and big shoes and a red ball on his nose making balloon animals for little kids and I stopped to watch. When the kids left, I stayed there and he told me I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and then he asked me if I would marry him. What do you have to say about that?”

“Were you flattered?” I asked and put a pizza dipper in my mouth.

“Not really,” she said. “He was a clown.”

Happens To Everyone, Right? By Elizabeth Withrich

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Wore a pale yellow dress with embroidery running up the bodice and a skirt full of crinoline, more makeup than is considered otherwise appropriate (by common standards, that is), baby’s breath in my hair all done up. Felt like a girl should as I posed for the pictures. In the car on the way over, I could hardly breathe, which had nothing to do with being excited or nervous and everything to do with that corseted deal being so tight it nearly cut off my airflow–again, appropriate feelings for a girl on prom night.

But that’s pretty much where the typical story started and ended–and the rest of it picked up. See, I was in that car alone–yes, I drove myself to prom. This is because I had asked a boy and he said no. Well, it wasn’t quite that direct, but the outcome was the same. Anyway, he was the most irresistible kind of boy: smart-but-not-too-smart, popular-but-not-unapproachable, and, yeah, really cute. He had a tall frame that slipped into those unnecessarily awkward, one-piece desks in one, easy motion and longish hair that fell across dark eyes as he slouched over books or notes and a grin that made you really, truly need to know what was so amusing.

He was my boyfriend–and not like a boyfriend of a week or something equally meaningless. We’re talking months here. When he didn’t ask me, I asked him. So did someone else. And this created quite a conundrum for the poor kid. In fact, it was so confusing that the only plausible answer was to go visit his brother in Chicago instead of going to prom.

So I went without him.

Ate the prime rib–or maybe it was chicken–or pasta. Danced with my friends and appreciated when they told me it was a shame he wasn’t there. What a loser, they said. I said, that’s right. But none of us meant it, not really. Later, I joined the cacophony of claps and cheers when the king and queen were announced, my thoughts trailing off to a city where the cutest boy I knew was–the only boy for me, the only one there could ever be, of course–and I wondered what he was doing right then, and what could possibly be so important to make him be there instead of here–even though I knew. And, when it was all said and done, I called it a night. Went home, took off that damn dress, picked the wilted flowers out of my hair and thought about the boy some more.

So what’s the point? Who even knows. Maybe that it really blows to have your boyfriend go to Chicago on prom weekend because he can’t make a choice, that he was sorry when he came back and I eventually got over being mad, that I’m not mad anymore–or sad, at all. That there are some things I can remember about it but way more I can’t because after awhile it stops mattering so much and then it doesn’t matter at all because it’s one night (maybe two, or three, but we’ve already covered that and you know what I mean). One night that is really wonderful for some people, a night where the world stops–or at least you think it just might because you’re so happy and so in love and it’s going to last forever and… no it’s not. Or maybe it will. But, either way, it’s going to take a long, long time to know.

Either way, ask him.

I did. And he said no to me for prom.

And I went anyway.

Elizabeth Withrich is the pen name of a Converse employee.