Daring to go solo in a couple's world


Nov. 16, 2001, midnight | By Katie Jentleson | 19 years, 2 months ago

Students recount the trials and joys of defying dating tradition and taking themselves to Homecoming


I don't have a lot of money, so paying someone is out of the question. But there is that guy who works at the gas station who always seems overly enthusiastic to check my oil. I also heard there are some new penguins at the zoo, so maybe I could just pretend he's wearing a really nice tux. As long as no one tries to shake his flipper or brings any fresh fish to dinner, it shouldn't be a problem . . .

These are among the thoughts that ran through my mind when I found myself dateless merely days before Homecoming. What I had envisioned as a perfect evening lay shattered before me as my date had to unexpectedly bail from our engagement.

Now I was left with a serious dilemma: to go it alone or not go at all. I think we both know that it'd be too dang hot for a penguin to be running around the dance floor and that gas station guy would probably have fleas in his back hair.

Realizing that this would be the last Homecoming of my high school career, I chose to fly solo, and I lived to tell the tale.

Girls just wanna have fun

The first thing I needed to tackle was the traditional ideology that the equation for a perfect Homecoming is boy plus girl times dancing equals a perfect night. But as I know from a string of ill-fated Homecomings, somewhere in that equation, the order of operations always gets messed up.

Sometimes it's just better to keep things simple—simply estrogen. Senior Kyra Alvez-Moats ditched the idea of taking a guy as her date for the less complicated option of going with a female friend. "We both wanted a chill kind of night," she says. "We thought it'd be more fun."

She even turned down one eager suitor, citing her pseudo-date with her friend as her reason to reject. "He was all, ‘Kyra, Kyra—you're going with me,' and I was like, ‘No I'm not! I'm going with Jamie,'" she says.

After talking to Alvez-Moats, I mulled over the idea of going with a friend, but even the sketchy ones had dates already, and I began to realize that my fate as a loner was sealed.

One ticket to paradise, baby?

Anyone who entered the courtyard during 5B lunch on Oct 26 knows what I'm talking about. In the last-minute scramble to purchase Homecoming passes, the line to the ticket window was longer than Rumpelstiltskin's mangy beard.

But that long line was for people who were buying couples' tickets; the teeny one next to it was for the dateless souls who were going alone.

I skulked into the line, clutching a friend to make me look cooler than I felt. If I had been smarter, like junior Safa Ashrafi, I would've found someone to buy a couple's ticket with. Ashrafi avoided the humiliation and extra $2 of the single's ticket by splitting a couple's ticket with a friend. "It was cheaper and easier," she says.

But instead I waited my five minutes in the singles' line, embarrassed and 200 cents poorer than I could have been, finding my only solace in replaying the verses of Destiny's Child's "Independent Women," which would definitely be the anthem of my approaching evening.

Material girl

I found that the most disappointing part of going alone was having to dish out my own green for the night and not getting anything in return . . . I guess now I know how most guys feel.

Ashrafi, however, didn't seem fazed by having to foot the bill herself. "I didn't really mind paying for dinner," she assures me. Well, maybe she could've paid for mine, too.

The thing that got to me the most was the prospect of not getting a corsage. Not that I have the best history with corsages. They're a real nuisance and even a hazard, as I found out last year when my rather large wrist corsage caught and almost ripped another girl's dress.

But stranger corsage conundrums have unfolded. When my friend failed to buy her date a boutonnière this year, she tried replacing it with a piece of cauliflower, the perfect fit for his black lapel. I didn't even have anyone to give me vegetables. I need my iron, too, you know.

A dance devoid of romance

At the dance I acted like a static brush, combing the floor and picking up wayward dates to dance with along the way. Even during the slow dances I could usually snake myself a partner, or, when I was really desperate, latch onto an already dancing couple like I was John Ritter in "Three's Company."

Still, sometimes being the third wheel is better than being half a couple. Help Me Heather, the advice columnist for Gurl.com, says that being on your own can prove to be an appealing option. "Independence can be very liberating, and it's a great feeling to be able to do exactly what you want without having to check with anyone else," she writes.

Based on her own Homecoming experience this year, Ashrafi would contend that Heather is right. "This year was a lot of fun because I was surrounded by my friends and I didn't have to care about a guy," she says. "I would go single again."

And so would I. I would also urge that next year, should you find yourself in a predicament akin to mine, put your foot down and go by yourself. And for God's sake, ditch the idea of taking a cardboard cutout—he'll be way too stiff on the dance floor.



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Katie Jentleson. Katie Jentleson is currently a senior attending the Communication Arts Programs at Blair. This is her second year on paper although she was enrolled in Mr. Mathwin's journalism class both semesters two years ago. Katie has played field hockey and softball for the past three … More »

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