"Our float is almost done." Phil De Ville announced as he stood beside a very proud and smug looking Dillon Pickles. "We just need another coat of paint and some finishing touches." Behind them was a large object on a trailer, covered by a white sheet. Tommy, Kimi, Lil, and Chuckie had come to the back yard at the De Ville house per Phil and Dil's request. "Behold!" Phil whipped off the cover dramatically, presenting a float made of styrofoam, duct tape, and neon green paint. It was a flying saucer landed on a planet's 'rocky' surface. Across the spaceship was painted in blue, "Probe the Panthers"-the Panthers being the rival team for the Homecoming game.
"A spaceship? Seriously? I knew that I should have been more suspicious when you said you wanted to make a float this year." Lil replied as she walked around the float. In all honesty, it wasn't too bad. Still, Lil wouldn't admit that to her brother and Dil. It would mean that she actually cared about Homecoming.
Kimi laughed as Chuckie shook his head and muttered, "That'll never make it past the censors."
"Even better," Dil added, "I am going to be wearing a costume. Since we aren't allowed to throw candy, Phil and I are going to squirt everyone with unset green jello." The two guys then gave each other high fives.
"That'll rock!" Tommy said as Chuckie laughed as well.
Lil grumbled, which only prompted Phil to say, "It'll be great! We are going to pull the float with Chuckie's dad's lawnmower. By the way, Chuckie, could you ask him if we could borrow the lawnmower?"
Dil looked upon his spaceship masterpiece with pride. "When the aliens see this, they'll establish contact for sure. They may even want me to design future ships. I wanted to make a probe too, but Phil wouldn't let me."
Phil added, "That was going too far, man. Too far." Phil then looked to the rest gathered around their float. "Are you guys gonna ride on the float with us?"
"Count me in. I'll even dress up as one of the Panthers so you can attack me on the float. I think I can get a costume from the costume shop in town." Tommy replied excitedly. Phil and Tommy then fist bumped.
"I'll pass." Lil replied. She was still taking a stance against the homecoming festivities, except for her mission to make Chuckie king of course. So far she'd talked to everyone on the soccer team, as well as everyone in her classes. She had Kimi doing the same and Susie even said she'd talk to the upper junior high classmen.
Kimi then said, "I'd love to, but I am going to be on the powderpuff truck this year. We are all sitting in the back in our football uniforms."
Chuckie then said, "I have to sit on a float with the king and queen's court." He then frowned. "It'll be weird, sitting there with all those popular kids. I am aiming to sit in the middle...so I don't fall off."
Tommy then gave his best friend a jab in the elbow and joked, "As long as you don't end up sitting by Angelica. Then I'll really feel sorry for you." He then said, "When is the coronation anyway?"
Chuckie sighed. "Thursday night. It's formal too. I'll have to walk down a red carpet in the gym while wearing a suit. I don't even think I own a suit. My last one doesn't fit anymore since that last growth spurt."
"But, Chuckie, wasn't that two years ago?" Tommy teased his friend again.
Kimi then grabbed her brother by the arm. "Never fear, Chuckie-chan! That is what sisters are for. Mom and I will take you shopping and make sure you look suave. We wouldn't let you be an embarrassment to the family." She then said to the rest, "You should have heard our dad when Chuckie told them that he was nominated. I think he was more excited than anyone. He and Mom are definitely going."
"I think he cried, even though he said it was just allergies. Are you guys going to come?" Chuckie asked then.
Tommy smiled. "Of course, Chuck man. Wouldn't miss it. Gonna support ya all the way."
Lil then said, "Phil and I will be coming too. I know I pushed you to do this, Chuckie, and you've been really great to let me. I want to see it through. Even if you don't win, it'll be an awesome night." She then gave Chuckie a grateful smile, which elicited a smile back.
Dil then added, "Mom and Dad will be there as well, especially since Angelica is in it too. It'll be great. The whole family will be there!"
As Dil spoke, Chuckie came to realize that he would be walking the coronation, in a suit, in front of not just people he didn't know, but his entire family and friends. Suddenly his stomach felt queazy and he swallowed back some bile that had come up in his throat.
"Yeah." He said, though his voice did not hold the same sentiment as his words. "It'll be great."
It was Thursday night when Kimi Finster led her parents into the Jim Jr Junior High Gym. Round tables had been set up with folding chairs for the families of the students. Each of the tables were covered with a white cloth and a flower centerpiece was placed in the middle of each. A red carpet began at each locker room door and met in the middle of the gym where the couple would walk down the long carpet to a stage that was erected on one side of the gym. The gym was decorated for the occasion in streamers and gold Christmas lights.
"It looks so pretty in here." Kimi commented as she sat down at one of the tables. Additional seating was created by the bleachers being pulled out on one side. While her parents sat down, each one dressed in their best as well, Kimi scanned the gym for her friends and their families. She spotted Tommy first and stood, waving him over.
Tommy wore a blue button down shirt and khaki pants. His mom made him wear a tie. Dil wore a sweater vest that actually matched his outfit, but in true Dil fashion still wore his Sherpa hat along with moccasins. Tommy waved back once he spotted Kimi and then urged his parents in that direction.
Chaz Finster stood up once Didi and Stu approached. "Hey, Stu, Didi."
"Hello, Chaz, Kira. I can't believe that we are actually going to our kids' coronation. They are growing up so fast." Didi replied. Seeing Chuckie was as important to her as seeing Angelica for Chuckie was practically part of the family as well and Chaz and Stu had been best friends since they were children. "I had to review Dr. Lipschitz book 'No Longer a Boy, Not Yet a Man' today."
Chaz nodded. "I know. It seems like only yesterday I was helping him button his own shirt. Now I was helping him tie a tie." Chaz started to sniffle and then quickly turned around. "Allergies." He insisted. "Gym floor wax has always affected my sinuses." Kimi just smiled as she heard her dad cover up his own emotions over the whole thing.
"You look great, Kimi." Tommy said as the parents all chatted.
"Thanks." She said, twirling around in her kimono. Both she and Kira decided to wear the traditional Japanese garment for the occasion. "You don't look too bad yourself, Tommy."
Dil then popped in front of his older brother. "What about me? I'm going for the Native American Sherpa Uncle Drew look."
Kimi laughed. "You look good too, Dil."
Phil and Lil then showed up as well, along with their parents. Betty and Howard De Ville grabbed a table beside the Finsters. The preteens then grabbed their own table as more people filled in. "This place sure is packed. I never realized that this Homecoming stuff was so popular." Tommy admitted.
"It's a way for the old folks to relive their fond childhood memories and to live vicariously through their offspring." Dil explained to his elder sibling as if that should be obvious to everyone. "Any time old people get to feel young again, they pile in droves."
"I never want to be like that." Tommy remarked, shaking his head solemnly.
"It'll sneak up on you. You won't even be aware when it happens." Dil concluded.
Charlotte and Drew were the last to show up. Charlotte had put away her phone for the evening. Well, not exactly put it away, but she did put it on vibrate for the occasion of her little girl's first coronation. Drew brought his new digital SLR camera. As he showed his brother, Stu, how it worked, Stu was already thinking up an invention to improve upon it.
Soon, the lights dimmed and the Vice Principal, Pangborn, stood at a podium on the stage. "Welcome, parents, students, to his years Annual Homecoming Coronation. I wrote a poem for the occasion." Slambang cleared his throat and then referenced a piece of paper he pulled out of the inside pocket of his suit.
"Games all week, games all month, but none's importance as forthcoming
As the last home game of the season, the one referred as Homecoming
Girls hike the ball, call first down,
Crossdressing cheerleaders, royalty's crown..."
Didi whispered to her husband, "Is this poem appropriate?"
"Nothing ever tops the week of Homecoming's cheer
Except perhaps Homecoming next year."
There wasn't immediate applause, but someone in the back started it, and soon awkward applause burst forth from the audience. The principal put the paper back into his suit pocket and then announced, "There was a record turn out for votes this year. Over seventy percent of students actually voted in homeroom this afternoon. It took myself and the entire Future Accountants of America club to tally them all before tonight's coronation. Usually we just pin the names up on the bulletin board of whoever got more than ten votes and throw darts. Anyway, here are your nominees..."
As Pangborn began naming the names, the king nominee would come from the boys' lockerroom on one side and the queen nominee from the girls' lockerroom on the other side of the gym. They'd meet in the middle under an archway decorated with garland and Christmas lights, stand for a moment for pictures, and then walk the carpet to the stage. The last ones announced were Chuckie and Angelica.
"Oh look at them. Angelica looks beautiful in this light. Drew, take a picture!" Charlotte insisted.
"They are so grown up." Chaz fought back another tear. He sniffled. "Allergies. Really, they should change the wax. Horrible for the environment." Kira smiled as well and snapped several pictures from her own digital camera.
"There's Chuckie and Angelica!" Kimi exclaimed, excited. She waved when she saw Chuckie look in their direction. Chuckie wore a navy blue suit picked out by Kimi. Angelica wore a long red dress with pearl earrings and matching necklace. Then the whole group waved to them. Chuckie blushed but Angelica soaked up the attention, posing for the flashing cameras and making sure that her good side was always shown.
Angelica kept her big smile as she stood on the stage with the rest of her competition. She and Savannah traded evil stares, though kept their smiles in place. Pangborn looked at the line of junior high kids and then out to the audience. "And now your Jim Jr Junior High Homecoming King and Queen are...Angelica Pickles, and Charles Finster."
Lil De Ville stood abruptly and raised her hands in triumph. She shouted so loud it echoed in the gymnasium. "YES! I won!"
Upon hearing her, Chuckie's hand slapped to his face even as the audience started their own applause. Both he and Angelica stepped to the front of the stage to be crowned and then to sit upon the thrones that were hastily put together by the 8th grade shop class.
"I don't know how you pulled that off, Finster." Angelica mumbled as the applause erupted around them. "But congratulations."