I Am Sam Was Sad. We Get It, by Liz Arcury

My name is Roxanne McLachlan and I lost my homecoming queen crown to Dakota Fanning.

We go to Campbell Hall Episcopal High School here in North Hollywood, CA. Well, I go here. Little Miss Fanning maybe shows up six days out of the school year when she feels like it or when she’s not being flown around the world and being in movies. We barely ever see her walking down the halls and when we do it’s always a big fucking production. I usually go home sick those days.

When voting came around in September all my friends said they would vote for me. Everyone said they would vote for me.

I was poised to win, after all. My glitter glue posters with collages of pictures of me and my friends (which I stayed up super late cropping to make sure only the popular ones were in there) and the words “Vote Roxanne CHEHS Homecoming Queen!” were so good. I also handed out lollipops with the saying written in Sharpie on the wrapper. I was a shoe-in. Not to mention the fact that I’m extremely popular. Yah, I said it. But I’ve worked my ass off for it so whatever.

Since freshman year I’ve gone to every football and basketball game because that’s what you have to do. Did I have any idea what was going on? No. Do I like sports? No. Do I spend nights thinking about how I could take all those hours and add them together and spend them in true happiness reading my favorite book “Pride and Prejudice”? Fuck off. And don’t tell anyone that’s my favorite book.

And the fake laughing at the jock boys’ jokes. Holy shit. It’s become muscle memory now. But it’s what you have to do. If they don’t think you think they’re hilarious they won’t invite you to Steak ‘n Shake after the big game. And that’s where the real becoming popular shit goes down. That’s where I got Jensen Berger’s number after I faux-giggled when he made a Family Guy reference.

Dakota was in Vienna that weekend being given a wreath of yellow flowers from the Austrian Federal Chancellor.

I even showed up to the homecoming game an hour and a half early to thank everyone for their vote as they filed into the stands. Of course, there was always the fear in the back of my mind that when people looked at the ballot and saw fucking DAKOTA FANNING they would have a knee-jerk reaction and think “I didn’t even know she went here but wow that’s awesome I’m totally voting for her!” But I quelled that fear when I thought of my years of hard work clawing my way up the ladder of Campbell Hall. And when I thought of how everyone said they would vote for me. That helped calm me down, too.

I was ready for halftime — when the winner would be announced. Relaxed and confident. Dakota had won the year before and that was freaking me out a little bit since we had been JUNIORS and the entire homecoming system is based off the idea that everyone participating are SENIORS but she won by a 96% margin by write-in anyway since she had showed up to one session of AP US History the day before voting and everyone was freaking out because they didn’t even know she goes here. That aside, I kept telling myself that there was no way she could win two years in a row. She didn’t even make posters or lose her virginity to Jensen Berger.

My baby blue bubble dress swished and swayed in the September night wind as I walked onto the field. Hearing the cheering that proceeded after my name was called when the announcer rattled off the homecoming court list reaffirmed my self-esteem. I was assigned to link arms on the field with Ryan McCullough, a tall dark-haired lacrosse player. He looks just like how I imagine Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. It was looking to be a perfect night.

No sign of Dakota. The court list was finished being announced and Ryan squeezed my hand. The vice principal’s booming voice came on over the loudspeaker.

“And, your homecoming king for Campbell Hall Episcopal High School’s 2010-2011 school year is…Jensen Berger!”

As the smattering of applause died down, a little black cloud of people appeared at the entrance in the bleachers of the football field. The view became clearer as they got near. It was men in black suits crowding around someone. I bet you can fucking guess who it was.

She took her spot on the field and blew kisses to the crowd. I’ve tried to block out the incredible joy that was on their faces but I can’t. Even under the harsh bright stadium lighting I could make out my mom flying to her feet crying with joy and pointing excitedly at Dakota.

“Looks like our favorite student decided to make a special trip for us tonight, folks! What a sweetheart. We love you Dakota. Let’s see the next announcement here — woah, crazy coincidence everyone! Joining Jensen Berger in Campbell Hall history, your homecoming queen is MISS DAKOTA FANNING!”

The next weekend my dad took me to pick up my car that was an early graduation present. I had my favorite purple Corolla all picked out beforehand and everything. We got to the lot and it was empty. Some sweaty guy with a nametag came up to us and said that Oprah had bought every single car from this lot the night before to give away to her studio audience.

Liz Arcury is currently a sophomore studying at Boston University. She performs comedy around the northeast with her longform improv group Sons of Liberty and has been featured on McSweeney’s.

The Humor Section features a piece of original humor writing each week. To submit to it, send an email to Becca O’Neal.

I Am Sam Was Sad. We Get It, by Liz Arcury