Crowns and Converse

This was a memoir piece I wrote after attending my friend’s Quinceañera.

Sparkly. That would be the word that comes to my mind when I think of Irma’s quinceañera. Everything from the dress of the birthday girl, to the lights all around, to the general atmosphere of the room was sprinkled with glitter.

One of my friends from elementary school invited me to her quinceañera. I, being the most common breed of introvert, hate parties. But I RSVP’d merely out of consideration for my friend and curiosity.

I came in not knowing what to expect. A month ago, a fancy invitation was at my door, written in purple cursive writing. It said that the party was being held at a ballroom. So that told me one thing: that it was going to be the kind of party filled with expenses that could be used to donate to hunger. But I knew I had to go for Irma. It was just pretty obvious that I was going to have to accept whatever was thrown at me.

I got to the party about ten minutes early. It was at this huge ballroom that was way out in the middle of nowhere. I sat in the car as I witnessed more and more people walk inside. Great, I thought. Crowds. Gotta love em.

I waited for my other friend to show up so I could walk in with her and not be all alone. She came with her purple hair and her arm around a boy that I knew from our old school. 

I walked into a huge room. Purple was everywhere. Purple tablecloths, purple lights. A long table, called the honor bar, sat at the very end with a throne in the middle. Cards were put into a cage at the table with the presents. Perfect for Irma. As we were all waiting for her to come out, I forced myself to mingle with various people from my old school and ones that I knew currently. I was amazed at how I could just act friendly. I saw my old friend Ivanna, who I hadn’t seen in about a year. She suddenly had blue hair to her shoulders. I was surprised to find our interaction extremely awkward. I had such a hard time finding stuff to talk about with her. It was weird because she had been MIA for about a year. I guess the kids that go to BASIS, the preppy math school in my area,  just get sucked into a vortex where they work all the time.

We had this whole procession for Irma. She was wearing this gigantic purple dress with her hair and makeup done, looking beautiful. And to top it all off, she was wearing a pair of purple converse under her dress. Yes,converse.

Irma was forced to take a bunch of pictures with everyone there. Her sweet little nieces continually hid under the tablecloth of the royalty table and would run barefoot back and forth along the long hall. I was acting kind of like paparazzi, snapping photos and taking videos of her constantly. All of the kids from our old school got together and took a picture with her, her smile that tried to conceal the hatred of taking so many pictures preserved forever.

Next, a sermon by her youth pastor was given, talking about how Irma was transitioning from being a girl to a young woman. I was forced to participate in a prayer, which was undoubtedly awkward, but I just went with it to make her happy.

Then came the food, which was red beans and rice with some chicken. My friend Dagny and I also snuck some M&M’s and chocolate covered raisins. The tables all had these long vases on them and each place setting had a placard with our name in fancy font, a small bag of candy covered almonds, and gold plates. At some point during the dinner, a Mariachi band came to play for Irma, with her little niece Dolce happily just standing in the middle of it.

Then came the waltzes. First, Irma waltzed with one of the boys from her honor bar (she picked each individual that sat there. It is a great honor if you are picked for it and a lot of prep needs to be done). It was clear that Irma had learned every dance very well, and you could tell by the swiftness of her movements that she and her partner had rehearsed many times.

Then it was time for the father’s speech. Both her step dad and her biological dad were present. Irma’s step dad is the real father figure in her life, so he got to give the speech. I could see tears coming to Irma’s eyes as he spoke of how amazing she was, how he had watched her grow from a little girl into a beautiful woman, and I was so happy for Irma, so happy that she had family who loved and appreciated her for who she was.

Next was the crowning. Irma sat on a chair in the middle of the hall as her dad put a tiara and these ridiculous high heels on her. She had to give up those wonderful converse. She was handed a large doll replica of herself by two little girls. Then, the father-daughter dances came, first with her biological and then her stepdad. But before she could do that, she had to say “I’m sorry I just can’t!” and took off those horrendous shoes.

Another ceremonial proceeding came of the honor bar that sat by her, made up of a little boy, five older boys, and one girl. She had to waltz yet again with one of the boys. Personally, I was afraid he was going to trip over that giant dress. As they waltzed, the rest of the honor bar stood back doing a rhythmic tapping of their feet.

Then came perhaps the most fun part of the whole party. Irma and the honor bar performed a hip-hop style dance to the song “Classic” by MKTO.

After that, the dance floor was open to everyone. I mustered up the courage to make a complete fool of myself because, hey, I was at a party, why not. I tried to dance with a group of kids at my school, but, as per usual, I wasn’t cool enough for them. I saw my former classmate’s little sister. She is a really sweet little girl, and I saw her trying to get her sister to dance with her. I didn’t really mention this before, but I love kids. I love kids more than real people, and throughout the party, I kept on pointing out how cute the various little kids were. No one really cared. So, I danced with Lilly, this little girl, and ended up having the most fun I had had all day. I was spinning her around, jumping with her, it was just….one of those moments. Those moments where you feel like you are in a movie, where they are just so blissful and perfect that you escape from life for a while, those moments you wish you could experience over and over again just so you can relive that level of happiness. She seemed pretty happy too.

I had to say goodbye eventually. I hugged Dani, saying it was so much fun dancing with her. I hugged Stacey, realizing that we were vastly different, and our approach to boys was the exact opposite, and she is so much more social than I am, and that was okay. I hugged Irma, and told her I loved her and that she looked beautiful.

I know I make fun of Irma a great deal (in a positive way) and I didn’t really become friends with her until last year, but going to this party reminded me of how lucky I am to have someone like her in my life. Someone who is goofy and a little bit crazy at times, but also strong and independent, someone truly compassionate and unique. This event reminded me of how proud I am to be her friend, and how much I really love her. I couldn’t help feeling the “my child’s all grown up” sensation because I got to see her transformation from a young, innocent girl into a mature, confident woman.

So maybe all the glitter and all the purple wasn’t really my style, but hey…those converse were pretty cool.


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