Homecoming: An awesome night of romance and laughter, or an awkward evening full of ill-conceived bathroom-window escapes? Depends on your DJ, your dress, and whether or not the school got the smell of lacrosse practice out of the gym before they threw up a few discount streamers. Mainly, though, it’s all about the lucky stud you've got on your arm. Chances are good yours will fall into one of these categories, each totally survivable in its own way—we promise!
The Totally Out-of-Left-Field Date. This is the person you formerly thought of as “dude with the haircut,” or “guy in fourth period who talks too much,” until he showed up at your front door with a rose, a karaoke machine, and the news that he’s been crushing on you since you gave that amazing report on minotaurs.
Survive it: The first thing you're going to want to do is google your date, but cease and desist; too much knowledge can be a bad thing. If you're reasonably sure he isn't a felon or a creepy teacher's aide posing as a high-school kid, stop FB-stalking. If you've already agreed to go, will it really be helpful for you to find his frame-by-frame, all-cat remake of Tron on YouTube? (For the record, such a film would be amazing.)
The Date You're About to Dump. He’s a really nice guy. Like, really nice. So irritatingly nice. And just when you made up your mind to dump him on Thursday, he asked you to Homecoming on Wednesday. In front of the entire school, during a pep assembly, in an attempt to shame you into going with him be romantic. You just couldn't embarrass him by saying no!
Survive it: Consider the dance a night to have fun with your friends. Go in a big group, dance in a big group, and fake sudden-onset rickets during the slow songs (in a big group). And don’t let your date spring for a limo ride and a dozen roses—try to go halfsies on as many of the expenses as possible. It’ll make you feel a little better about dropping the axe three days later.
The "Just Get Through Tonight" Date. This is a person you said yes to out of some kind of obligation. Most likely it's your mom's best friend's terrible son, the one who used to microwave your Hot Wheels cars (and then eat them) when you were five. Your mother came up with this diabolical arranged date in an effort to make you two fall in love and marry, in the hopes of strengthening the trade routes between their kingdoms and/or forcing you guys out of the house so she and her friend can do a wine-and-manicures night.
Survive it: Make sure the person pulling the strings on this one knows that she owes you big, and make sure your date knows that you're just going as friends. If it seems likely that he will attempt to steal a kiss at some point, you would be wise to slowly work your way through a footlong sub throughout the duration of the evening. No unwanted puckers will find their way past your hoagie moat.
The Crush-Since-Grade-School Dream Date. The unbelievable has happened: the person whose school schedule you've been hacking into since the sixth grade in order to plan your hallway route has finally NOTICED YOU EXIST. And ASKED YOU TO THE DANCE. This is your ONE CHANCE AT TRUE LOVE AND HAPPINESS. What will you do?
Survive it: First of all, change your thinking. "I'm so lucky to be going with this person!" should sound more like "This person's so lucky to be going with me!" Next, prepare yourself for a reality check. No matter how many times you've imagined your first date with this person, the real thing is more likely to involve awkward pauses and a few bad jokes than a tornado of rose petals and Paul McCartney pulling up on a white horse and singing "Maybe I'm Amazed" as a rainbow forms overhead. Unless...are you starring in a teen movie? No? Just checking.
The Just-Friends Date. This is perhaps the greatest date of all. You can spend days planning a hilarious Homecoming photo pose, you can practice synchronized dances, and you can coordinate fantastic outfits, possibly involving tin foil and drag. Not that you can't do all of these things with a date you're totally into—it's just less likely that you will.
Survive it: By being hilarious together all night long, and dancing to every single song, especially "Single Ladies."
Which kind of date would you most like to have? We like the "just get through tonight" version, mostly because it involves a hoagie.
Related post: Homecoming: The Definitive Guide