James goes to the homecoming dance

Shivering, I wrapped my arm around my date and walked to the backyard, a perfect setting for our Homecoming group’s pictures. I arrived with a cautious smile—no one had ever met him. My friends and I immediately exchanged compliments on each other’s dresses. Their parents, whom I had never met, smiled politely at me but peered oddly at my companion. Finally, slicing through the fog of awkwardness that had settled, someone asked, “Nathalie, what is that?”

“Oh, well, he’s my date. His name is James.” As laughter ensued, I looked over to my escort, a short man of Scandinavian descent whom I had met in my garden. He grinned up at me, as always, and I explained to the still somewhat confused crowd that James was, indeed, a garden gnome.

As the night progressed, I was pleased to notice that everybody really took to James. Most group members had at least one photo with him. The girls hugged and kissed him. The guys welcomed James into their posse and hailed him as one of the “bros.” At dinner, everyone kept asking me where he was (he prefers to eat alone). I was beginning to think James was better liked than I.

When we arrived at the dance (fashionably late, of course), I decided it would be best for James to remain in the classroom to watch over our belongings instead of joining us on the dance floor (he prefers quiet settings). However, once in the Great Hall, I regretted my judgment. As the rest of our group members were busy “not-grinding” with their respective dates, I found myself bobbing awkwardly to the music we could barely hear. As fate would have it, the dance ended early, and I was glad to be reunited with my superhero, James. He had his moment to shine on the dance floor at the after party where, incidentally, we danced more than we did at the actual dance.

During first hour on Tuesday after Homecoming, I was sitting in AP Biology, with the esteemed Bio Bob at point, erudite as always. He needed someone to draw a phospholipid bilayer on the board. Selecting Elin Lantz and me, Bio Bob said, “Nathalie, you can be the lawyer of this case, and Elin, don’t lance yourself with the marker.”

Of course, the class burst with laughter, as it usually does when Bio Bob demonstrates his talent for making puns. As I took the marker from him, he made one more crack, “Just don’t bring James up there with you.”

“What?” I yelped. My heart was pounding as I looked, wide-eyed, to my classmates. Those who had been in my Homecoming group were falling out of their seats, laughing uncontrollably. I, too, started laughing, only because I didn’t know what else to do. How on earth did my teacher know about my Homecoming date?