Semi-Formal Means You Wear Whatever Shoes You Want
The invite came after Stacy’s boyfriend
dumped her mid-lunch. The cafeteria buzzed
with shock. My apple juice tumbled off my tray as
one of Stacy’s cyborgs grabbed my arm, pulling me
and some other outsiders, onto the radar;
Semi-formal was girl’s night anyway.
If Stacy didn’t have a date,
none of them did.
I waited for Stacy’s older sister Maureen to do my make-up.
In a borrowed white dress, above the knee, scoop neck,
satin laces up the front—for someone with bigger breasts.
I slouched in their father’s blue corduroy
recliner, deep–breathing the smell of vanilla cigars.
The group of them sat in the bay window,
Sharpie-starring yearbook photos of boys
they hoped had big dicks. I wondered how
many of them were virgins.
Maureen sat in front of me—
girls with straight bangs and
black boots have a strange effect
on me—whisking me back to 1990,
on my knees in front of the TV
staring up at Chrissy Amphlett of
They’re all about 3 shades lighter than you,
but you don’t need foundation anyway.
Her combat boots touching the toes of mine,
glancing down, her one eyebrow shooting up
like an off-color joke—
Listen, their feet are bigger than mine,
and I don’t own heels.
Maureen smirked, pushing away the make-up
table and picking up her purse.
Her mascara brush, spinning my lashes
into baby arachnid legs—her hand
tilting my chin. Lipstick rolling
out of a red tube, she leaned in, her words
stinging my cheeks like the delayed
heat of a hot pepper.
Open, your mouth.
Color filling the trenches of my lips,
her emerald eyes tracing the lines.
She pressed her lips together, I mimicked.
There. You’ll be the cutest one. Do you have leather jacket?
You could pull a Kristy Swanson.
The leather of my coat squeaked
against the gym wall. INXS kick-starting
their pelvises into puberty. The DJ shouting
Who do you need tonight! The group
of girls split apart like bees, Queen Stacy
directing half of them towards me,
the other half shoving Gordie Jacobs to
the dance floor.
Gordie wore a yellow silk shirt
that matched his hair, unbuttoned to his nipples.
A gold chain and pinky rings. Gordie sheepishly
thurst his groin in my direction, my skin tightened.
Just as the girls reached me, Maureen—volunteer punch server,
cut them off, they retreated back to the floor.
Stacy stuck with Gordie humping her thigh.
Maureen took my hands and bent down next to my ear—
Nice jacket. Some advice, learn to dance. It keeps them off
your back. You might never get to be who you are in this town,
find some friends that don’t care, it makes a difference.
Billy Idol’sDancing With Myselfpacked the floor.
You ever slow dance to fast music? When you see someone do it,
it makes you think, there are these hidden moments people
live in all around us, and we can’t see them.
You ever have that happen? Something takes you
somewhere else, but your body stays here?
She moved around me slowly, eyes closed. Her hips
swaying off beat, her head back like sunrays or raindrops
were washing over her forehead. I joined her.
When the song ended, she kissed my cheek
and went back to the punch table.
In the disco and strobe I danced
with Gordie and his friends,
proud of my new survival skills.
Stacy parking lot-cried in her mother’s BMW
while her ex kissed Jenna, the new girl.
Maureen’s forearms rested in the open window
of my mom’s car. She lowered her head,
green radio glow amplifying her eyes—
Thanks for the dance. See you in high school.
Maranda Greenwood lives in Vermont with her wife, artist Jessica Yager. She is an MFA student at Arcadia University. In her free time, she coaches D2 field hockey.