sue repko

  1. Dare to hope.

You don’t wear make-up. You don’t use a curling iron. Your boobs are too small. Your feet are a men’s size 8. You buy clothes at K-Mart. You’re a jock. But maybe you’re also a social scientist? Maybe you can test the theory that “beauty is only skin-deep,” that teenagers can recognize and celebrate a peer for who she really is?

  1. Win the election.

Hire a bold and visionary campaign manager. Someone who believes in you. Someone who’s sung “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” with you, over and over, huddled around a record player on steamy summer afternoons, trying to get the lyrics down. Your best friend, a devious mastermind, who sees the word-of-mouth marketing potential in your two younger siblings, and in her two younger siblings, all of you in the same Catholic high school. And the two of you, having sucked at the teat of a bottle of Fabergé Organics Shampoo, truly believe that, “if you tell two friends, then they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on…”

  1. Be gracious in victory.

Do not be seen laughing in public for at least forty-eight hours after your victory. You are now royalty. Show a little decorum. Please.

  1. Remain vigilant against megalomania.

You are already the president of Student Council and the National Honor Society. And now, the Queen? You do not really deserve this! Don’t ever forget that. And if you do, your little sister will remind you: it was all a joke!! Your uniform hangs like navy blue sackcloth above your knobby knees! Your ears aren’t even pierced! And you’re still a virgin!

But are you not worthy of this title - Homecoming Queen 1979?  You have a good personality! You are a beautiful person inside. That’s what counts, that’s what the voters saw in you. The little people. No, not the little people. Your people. You are Everyman – Everywoman. Everything is different, everything could be different now. The creation of a new world order rests in your hands. No, wait, it doesn’t. You’re just some stupid, lucky girl who got more votes on that particular day because – because – oh, who gives a shit?

  1. Get thee to thy coronation!

Sprain your ankle in a tennis tournament the day before the Homecoming game so that you can forfeit the next day’s match and enjoy your very own coronation instead! Endure the glare of the tennis coach, who suspects just how much you really want this, all eyes on you, all eyes on the Queen!  Conspicuously use the crutches even when they keep getting tangled in your gown, a pale, burnt sienna, the one you wore to the junior prom before inexplicably falling in love with your boss at the luncheonette – a short, overweight 33-year-old smoker with glasses, who talked to you, really talked to you, and was beyond all this, these peasants and their sordid little lives, fretting over sex and grades and zits and Camaros.

At last, allow your King, your partner and fellow wisecracker in Spanish class, to assist in ways that will reinforce his sense of manliness, such as holding your crutches and helping you into the convertible that will drive you onto the field to receive your crown in front of your subjects. Once there, dip your head just slightly for the High Priest, who is also the principal. Make no sudden movements. Grace is all. And receive thy crown upon thy head, the bejeweled tiara that envelops you in a brilliant aura.

  1. Remain vigilant against megalomania.

  1. Wave like a Queen

Get back into the convertible and perch yourself next to your King on the top of the back seat. As your carriage makes its slow parade in front of the home stands, cup your right hand ever so slightly, all fingers together in a line of obedient soldiers, and lift your arm up and out to the side. Let your hand sway back and forth, pivoting only at the wrist. Do it with dignity and solemnity and gratitude for the honor your people have bestowed on you, sealing those moments forever in the history of your kingdom. Or at least as long as people keep their yearbooks.


Sue Repko’s fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Tattoo Highway, flashquake, Midway Journal, RUNES, the Princeton Alumni Weekly and other print and online journals. She is a graduate of Princeton University and is currently in the MFA program at Bennington College. She can be found on the web at