“Where are your parents?”
Before I can open my mouth to answer, a bouquet of roses—red, white, and, most importantly, free—is tossed into my unprepared arms. I fumble the catch but manage to keep from dropping the flowers on concrete. Whirling about myself, I am lost in a dizzying sea of booming small talk and dads in uniform khaki shorts.
It’s Senior Night, the “ceremony” held before the first October football game to recognize band and dance team seniors. All I, a dance team senior, am to do is walk across the field with my family as our names are announced and take a picture. This sounds simple enough until you take into account that my family (my mom) is nowhere to be found.
“Almost here, hopefully,” I say to no one in particular. I think of my phone, sitting all the way back in the stands, and my arms fall uselessly to my sides.
The line, which, up to this point, I’d been unaware I was in, moves up. I am struck with a bout of terror only comparable to the feeling I get when Mom makes me hold her spot in the grocery line.
Scuffing my boot heel in the pavement, I try to inconspicuously scoot out of sight, only to be nudged back to my spot. “We’re lining up in alphabetical order,” my teammate reminds me helpfully. “You’re in front of me.”
I’m aware. Even so, I slink back reluctantly.
My eyes then latch onto a welcome sight: another teammate’s mom. I all but beg her for her phone and quickly dial. Straight to voicemail.
I try again. Voicemail. I hang up.
One of my band friends tries to wave me over. A (probably) crazed look in my eyes, I telepathically communicate my dilemma. She walks away.
Voicemail. This time, I leave a message. “Mom,” I yell over the crowd, “it’s starting and we’re in line and I can’t walk across the field by myself and where are you?” The more I look around for her, the more I take notice of the people around me. There aren’t just parents. There are little sisters, older brothers, and even grandparents. These seniors, as it so appears, have invited their entire genealogical family tree, and I am going to have to follow them alone.
In the next minute, I leave three more messages, the tone of each one escalating in urgency.
There are five families ahead of me. I have a hard time believing that Mom has forgotten to show up; the last time I texted her, she was near the stadium, and this sort of thing is hard to miss. Has she lost her phone? Has she been trying to call me? Has she…
And then I think of something. Scrolling through the phone’s call history, I finally understand why I have been unable to reach her. I have been calling my own phone this entire time.
I quickly change the “3” into a “9”—our numbers only differ by one digit, which I suppose makes the situation less stupid, but only microscopically—but not before I catch sight of Mom. She barrels down the stairs right as the family in front of me starts to walk onto the field. “Why didn’t you call me?” She asks in a frazzled voice. “I didn’t know where to go.”
Making a mental note to delete all those voicemails and all evidence of my astounding idiocy, I answer “no phone” and pretend I have been calmly awaiting her the entire time.