Mum's the Word
Originally Published - October 2012
By Rhonda Ross, Associate Editor
When I moved to Southlake a little over a decade ago it was the beginning of the school year and the weather was still hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Definitely not what a native New Yorker would call football weather. The closest NFL team to where I grew up was the Buffalo Bills; they played outside and games often required a ski suit to keep you warm on the outside and a “beverage” to do the same on the inside. I obviously had a great deal to learn about football in Texas, especially high school football.
I still remember my surprise in experiencing the huge crowds that descend upon the high school stadium on Friday nights. I had never witnessed a drill team before but I quickly came to admire the long line of legs in perfect unison with their shining sequined owners glinting in the evening sun. In comparison to my high school, the Varsity cheerleading squad was huge so I was blown away by how they could fire up a crowd of thousands. The blow-up helmet manned by Dads that spewed forth a seemingly endless line of players each week was a true thrill.
After witnessing my first few games I started to feel I was earning my stripes as a Texas high school football fan. My family wore the right colors on Friday, we knew all the right “Dragon” speak, I was sure I learned all there was to know about Friday Night lights and nothing could surprise me. But I was so very, very wrong. Nothing I learned would prepare me for my first Homecoming game.
What on earth were those gargantuan masses of black and green ribbons that people were wearing? I was blinded by the mirrors reflecting the stadium lights seemingly suspended on invisible threads, the names running down the ribbons like a waterfall of precious jewels. Scattered bells chimed merrily with each movement. Some of these strange but wonderful creations had flashing twinkle lights and feather boas that softly moved in the sultry Texas breeze. Even the guys were wearing slightly modified versions of these fantastical formations on their arms like badges of honor. From my first encounter with the “Homecoming Mum” I was bewitched. Researching the history of the homecoming mum for this issue truly brought back some memories of my son’s high school years and the elusive search for the perfect mum.
While my son was young I fought the good fight admiring the glitz and glamour from afar but eventually I succumbed to mum fever when he was a high school freshman and we needed one for his homecoming date. It was necessary to go to those more learned than I who had older kids to figure out the whole Mum philosophy. They asked questions like “Are they dating or just going as friends?” “What extracurricular activities is she in?” “Do you want to make it or buy it?” and even “What’s your budget?” My first visit to a mum supply store quickly answered the budget question. It was literally possible to spend as much on one of these colossal concoctions as it cost to feed a family of four for a month.
I’ve always been crafty. As a middle schooler I made the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s head out of a metal coffee can and Paper Mache and it was truly gorgeous. In high school I was a competitive skater and I couldn’t sew a stitch but I sure knew how to add the bling factor to my competition outfits. If you ask my friends they’ll tell you there is not much I can’t do if you give me a glue gun. The scrapbooks from my son’s high school career are works of art that required countless trips to craft stores and immeasurable hours spent with BFF’s bent over a table creating the perfect page.
But, I digress. For my son’s four high school years I created mums that will hopefully grace a girl’s bedroom wall for time immemorial. I made tiny pirate bears, bedecked a Dragon (in honor of my son being the mascot) and even fashioned a perfect miniature Emerald Belle complete with sequined hat.
I guess the $700 question is, “Are homecoming mums completely over the top, expensive wastes of good money, and totally ridiculous expressions of excess?” Sure, but we love them anyway, long may they reign.
Rhonda is a native of upstate New York transplanted to Southlake twelve years ago after career stops in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Missouri. Her Dragon son graduated from Carroll in 2009 and headed off to college so Rhonda took advantage of being an empty nester by going back to school herself and completing her Masters degree in English. Living her dream of being a writer, Rhonda fully enjoys her work writing and editing here at Southlake Style.