Maranda Greenwood

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.

 

2.

 

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

the Divinyls

 

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.

 

Me either.

 

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.

Eyes, meeting—

 

There. You’ll be the cutest one. Do you have leather jacket?

You could pull a Kristy Swanson.

 

3.

 

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.

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