Crowns the glittery kind you wear on your head aren't a normal part of typical American attire, except for one Friday night each autumn on high school football fields across the country. Homecoming. It's a tradition that often involves a king and a queen, but most definitely a queen.
Homecoming wouldn't be homecoming without her.
Many of us possess high school memories of the anticipation and excitement associated with homecoming. Some are fond memories of wearing an elegant dress and a crown. Others remember watching others wear crowns.
In high school I was a girl surrounded by other girls wearing crowns.
One of my very best friends was homecoming queen. I was thrilled for her. Truly. You know the clich about being as beautiful on the inside as the outside? She was.
A number of my BFFs were princesses serving as members of the homecoming court. At my school, all the princesses got to wear tiaras. They were smaller than the queen's headdress, but still fashioned out of pure gold-tone metal and decked out with fake diamonds. Bottom line, they sparkled under the Friday night lights. At least they did from the vantage point of the bleachers.
Like the queen, the princesses at my school were characterized by the inside-outside clich; they were beautiful in both places. Each deserved her moment in the spotlight.
I used to joke with them about being the only one without a crown. Humor is an effective buffer; sometimes you just have to laugh about things.
My laughter was replaced with the bittersweet truth about homecoming and the afterlife: high school ends and real life begins. A dozen years (give or take) after graduation, one of my princess friends surprised me with two tiaras one for her and one for me. (They were on a clearance special at the mall.) We were young mothers then and although surrounded by diaper wipes, sippy cups and burp rags, our crownerage made us feel like queens. Sort of.
I still have my tiara. It's safely stored at the bottom of my underwear drawer. I don't take it out often only when I need to access my princess powers.
Last week I attended the homecoming football game in town and witnessed the coronation of this year's queen. I happen to know she is a person who is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. That seems to be a theme with the royalty in my life. It was clear this young lady was thrilled with her honor, and I was thrilled for her.
Still, my mind wandered to thoughts of all the other girls sitting in the bleachers, watching. Maybe some of them went home and cracked a joke about their inability to balance a crown without dropping it, or made some other silly attempt at humor.
I suppose because of this, we could abolish homecoming royalty. That way, there'd be no non-winners and no need to try to joke about not caring about not winning. Except, then no one would experience the joy of being queen. There's something to be said about the gift of joy.
We could redefine the system and let everyone be queen. If we did, everyone would own a crown; wearing the bling would no longer possess unique zing. It doesn't work to have a bazillion queens. Ask any hardworking ant or honeybee, the whole idea of having a queen is that there can be only one.
Besides (all my whining aside), homecoming is fleeting. It's a moment in time. A blip on the proverbial radar and not something to get hung up on for years and years. I've moved on. Mostly.
Over the decades I've learned real queens are years in the making. They wipe noses and drive minivans and are hardly ever late to pick up their kid from soccer practice. Most importantly, they have real tiaras with real powers, stored in secret, high-security locations like the bottoms of their underwear drawers.
Find Slices of Life on Facebook and hit Like (please). Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication." Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit her website at marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.