My freshman year of college I lived in an apartment (because I was simply too cool to live in the dorms, if you must know) with four girls from Texas. They were from a little town in eastern Texas named Gilmer (not Gilmore!). They told me all about Homecoming and how the girls would wear these big mums that sounded like really large, weird corsages. I made a mental note of mums in the “weird regional American miscellany” file in my brain and went on with my life.
Fast forward almost 20 years. I am now living in Texas. And it will soon be Homecoming. I was at my friend Michelle’s house yesterday and though of mums. My grey matter chimed in, “Michelle has a teenage daughter. Maybe she has heard of this mum phenomenon.” And sure enough, Michelle not only confirmed the existence of mums, but had her daughter’s mum from last year that she hauled out. My eyes nearly popped out of my head (Am I right Lisa?) This thing was a monster. Kind of like Dr. Frankenstein meets Martha Stewart at a pep rally. I don’t have a picture of it, but I downloaded a few off of the internet to show you. Michelle’s daughter’s mum looked very silmilar to the top picture:
–This is a Texas-only tradition (although rumor has it some Oklahoma schools have them too.) These originally started out as just regular old flower corsages, but Texans like things big and showy, so you can see where this led.
–Mums do actually have a flower (or two or three)–a chrysanthemum–although it’s silk and purely there for name’s sake only, since it’s entirely covered with other things, most likely a teddy bear wearing clothes.
–The mum is made in the school colors. It has the name of the school, the girl’s name and her grade. The ribbons hanging from it are nearly floor-length and not just plain old ribbons. Oh no, that would be too boring. A lot of the ribbons are braided, and woven with other ribbons. Feathers, tassels and maribou boas are also usually added. There are trinkets tied to the ends of some of the ribbons that reflect the girl’s interests (soccer ball, cheerleading pompoms, football helmet, etc.) Somewhere on there is usually a cowbell (seriously). Add lots of glitter and anything with pizazz and there you go.
–These suckers are heavy. Like 10 or 12 lbs heavy. Imagine pinning a baby to your shirt. That’s the kind of weight we’re talking about. According to Michelle, the mum is worn to school the day of homecoming as well as to the game itself. Not to the dance, though. (Because that would be tacky, I guess.)
All this makes me wonder what I would have done about the mum situation if I had gone to school in Texas. First we have the issue of me never having had a date in all my high school years. Nobody would have given me a mum. Would I have made one for myself? What do girls in my situation do? Make each other mums?
In high school I also had an issue with tacky things. Let me tell you, it was hard to avoid the tacky stuff back in the 80’s! Even if I had had a date to homecoming, would I have even worn a mum? I mean, his mom would have made/bought it for me, so it’s not like I could have been that picky. But I would have died if I’d had to wear one of those things. Really, I would have. I guess it’s a pointelss question, but it’s the sort of thing I like to waste my time worrying about.
Anyway, happy Homecoming!