Mum’s the Word

by Joy Donovan on October 26, 2010


What images does it conjure up?

At my high school, the queen was crowned in the gym, but the football players weren’t allowed to wear their cleats. So these big, mostly awkward guys escorted the homecoming nominees in their uniforms with only white socks on their feet.

That, however, was in Oklahoma, which is not the only state to do something laugh-out-loud funny. Other states have equally interesting traditions…for instance, there’s Texas and those big ole honkin’ homecoming mums.

Now honestly, who thought these giant artificial flowers adorned with yards of paper ribbons, a truckload of plastic toys and gobs of glitter were a worthy aspiration? I’ve seen girls wear multiple mums across the front of her chest with ribbons so long they were tripping over them. I’ve marveled at girls whose necks were in need of a chiropractor. I recently spied one girl immortalized in the local newspaper because her mum was so big it required a “counter weight.”

Then there are the boys’ garters. A piece of elastic supports a slightly-smaller version of the girls’ fake-flower-and-ribbon creation. Manly look that is.

For a few years I sat at high school football games with moms who delighted in our school being our opponents’ homecoming rivals. If we were lucky, someone brought binoculars so we could inspect the opposing teams’ stands for the most ridiculous mum we could find. No finer fun that that on a Friday night. We gave bonus points to the one among us who could find the biggest mum corsage in the crowd.

I’ve finally come to the realization that the corsages were not a mum competition. They were a mom competition.

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