Friday Night Lights and Teenage Dreams.
or, reasons why i am obsessed with the American South.
in addition to his current sojourn, my dad lived in Houston for a few years in the 90s. Toronto was still home, but we spent two Christmases chasing armadillos, sunning on Galveston Beach, and opening presents under a tree decorated with sequined cactus and chili pepper ornaments.
my first name was chosen by my mom after she read an issue of National Geographic that featured an article about Southern Debutantes, one of whom was named Paige. so: it’s been ingrained since birth.
three: pop culture.
Tim Riggins and Scarlett O’Hara. need i say more?
four: because Terra and i went to a high school football game in Katy, TX, last week during Homecoming and nothing from my childhood will ever amount to the over the top, epic event that is friday night football in Texas.
the images above are of students at Cinco Ranch High and they’re wearing a Texas tradition i wasn’t aware of until we walked into Rhodes Stadium. they’re homecoming mums and garters and the easiest way to explain is that the boyfriends’ mothers make mums for the girls, and the girlfriends’ mothers make garters for the boys. (and these pairs of moms usually coordinate, because mums and garters are always better when they match!) mums include toys, miles of ribbon, lights, games, whistles, custom monograms, team colours, and about a dozen other things that push them from “interesting” to “beyond ridiculous”.
of course, not every parent has the time to make a mum, so all the floral shops, grocery stores, and craft centers sell them as well. for between $50-$200. yes, high school homecoming is big business in Texas.
the couples wear their mums and garters all day at school, and then to the homecoming football game at night—and some of the girls decorate overalls to wear as well, though as some students told us “that’s a really sau-thern thing to do.” if you’re a senior, your mum will be white and silver or gold, otherwise it must be in your school’s colours. oh, and yes: this Texas ritual is what i’ll be dressing up as for Halloween.
on to the actual game! let’s see, Terra and i counted:
- about 50 football players
- 16 varsity cheerleaders
- 50 or so girls on the drill team (plus 10 dance leads)
- 17 coaches
- a half dozen or so water girls and boys, and another half dozen or so flag runners
- a 20 person choir
- and a 200 person marching band
the other team wasn’t so stacked, and so you’ll notice that they didn’t exactly fill the “away” stands at the game. Cinco Ranch’s side, however, was packed, totaling approximately 5000 fans all in maroon.
but then! it wasn’t just any game last friday night: it was homecoming! so, in addition to the parents, the students, and the alumni, there were twelve students who made up the homecoming court. and the court, dressed in gowns and suits, walked the stands until halftime, when they joined their parents, the marching band, drill team, and flag runners on the field to announce the new homecoming king and queen—crowned, of course, by last year’s homecoming king and queen. (both now attend my favourite college, UT Austin.)
Cinco Ranch won the game, of course: 41-22. and then it was time for the post-game show. (because the usual halftime performance was pushed back thanks to the homecoming ceremony!) the show included a kick line that easily rivaled the Rockettes, and a ten minute choreographed number with all 200 marching band members—and an interpretive dance troupe.
yep, just another friday night in Katy, TX.