Temporary Queen

The Homecoming Queen called in sick. The principal asked if I could sub. I explained I was middle-aged, male, and married. He explained the position was purely ceremonial; the real work, the duty of leading the school, was that of the Homecoming Parliament. He gestured toward a silk sash, a blinding tiara. I took the job.

Oh, how I waved from the float, my smile all sparkles! I drank beer with teenagers, letting the boys think they were seeing something beneath the scoop of my dress as I pumped the keg. Turns out it’s the position we love, not the person. I cheered like hell at the football game, and we won.

The gym was choked with crêpe paper, and the DJ hadn’t moved since my own pimply homecoming, cobwebs and all, still playing his cassette single of “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. I danced with Tom, the quarterback. I told him to invest in mutual funds. He told me I have very pretty eyes.

B.J. Best is the author of three books of poetry, most recently But Our Princess Is in Another Castle, a book of prose poems inspired by classic video games. I got off the train at Ash Lake, a verse novella, is forthcoming from sunnyoutside in 2015. He lives in Wisconsin.

Read another piece from Best in 3.2 here.