Confession: I used to be a cheerleader.
More Specific Confession: I was the captain of our squad.
Confession that May Anger Current Cheerleaders: Thank god those days are over.
It wasn't the cheerleading I hated. (I consider the splits to be one of my highest achievements.) It was my fellow cheerleaders who turned our cute, little middle school squad into Satan's Squad. They are the ones who made me want to shove my pom-pom down somebody's throat and my other pom-pom up somebody's ass. I cheerled for 2 years, and any cheerleading time spent OFF the football field goes under my category of Times I Wanted To Pull A Carrie. That's right. Football games? A blast! Something about touching my toes while they're in the air and spelling out words like, "W-O-O" and "H-O-O" (some people make the mistake in either spelling it out as one word: woohoo, or spelling 'hoo' like 'who?' BIG mistake. and that, my friends, is what cheerleaders are F-O-R.) really gets me going. What other time do I get to appropriately flash my undies to a crowd of parents, grandparents, little children, and boys my own age without being looked down upon? EXACTLY. What other time do I get to color-coordinate the ribbons in my hair to my underwear without it seeming odd? EXACTLY. What other time do I get to refer to my underwear as "spanky pants" without it seeming like a sexual innuendo? EXACTLY. But let's take a closer look at the times spent OFF the field, shall we?
I was in 7th grade being invited to an 8th grade sleepover. Cheerleaders only. I was stoked out of my mind. Until I actually got there.
"Flava lava mava pullava kava."
"Well, nava nava tomava flikava amava."
"Bobava blava tryflava wava quava."
This is the "language" the 8th grade girls insisted on speaking the. entire. night. They would ask us all to come sit in the living room so we could all get to know each other, and then they would start this bullshit. They made it clear that we were not supposed to be following the conversation in the least bit. They even threw out some enormous gasps during the conversational pauses so we REALLY knew what we were missing. Obviously the English language was SO 7th grade. How were we supposed to know? There was only one 8th grader who dared speak to me directly, and THAT didn't last long.
Me: What's up?
Her: I just ate an altoid.
Me: Cool. So, were you a cheerleader last year?
Her: It was cinnamon.
Me: What was cinnamon?
Her: The altoid.
Me: Oh...well that's neat. So do you play any other sports?
Her: I love cinnamon altoids.
Me: I've never had one. So what's your favorite movie?
Her: I think I'm going to go get another one.
The only other thing she talked about that night was how she could swallow her tongue, but after she showed us there was really nothing else for her to say since once you show someone your gaping mouth with your tongue stuck back in it, they really don't know what to say to you.
After waking up covered in a goop we found out was a tuna-mayonnaise-relish-hummus-syrup concoction, we were told we weren't allowed to shower, for we must report to the backyard to immediately start learning cheers.
"I will be teaching you the cheers, and my co-captain, Holly, will be monitoring you to make sure you don't screw up."
I think the question on everyone's mind was: Why was Holly holding a belt?
"This is the first move, and this is the second. Dip down like this for the third, and---"
SMACK! That's why.
"Holly, what happened?"
"Blondie here dipped the opposite way."
"Well, little girl, hopefully you won't mess up again now that you know what will happen."
For those of you who may not be following along, they WHIPPED US. I thought I was a cheerleader, not Kunta-Kentay, for bloody sake. And they say cheerleading isn't tough...
So then the next year I was the captain, and NO, I did not "carry on the tradition" that the 8th graders had told us we would do. I don't know why...I just don't have the urge to whip people...guess S&M is out of the picture. Darn. However, this also was the year the new cheerleaders would NOT be chosen based on skill, but based on grades and moral behavior. (Could they make it more obvious they think cheerleading isn't a sport? I don't see straight-A Adam making the winning touchdowns.) So surprise, surprise! Our squad sucked.
"I can't do it, I'm scared."
"Look, Millie, there's nothing to be scared of. It's just a stunt. You're safe."
"I'm too scared, I can't do it."
You're thinking I was trying to force this girl to be a flyer. You're thinking I was trying to force this girl to be thrown into the air and caught by 14-year-olds. You're thinking I was trying to force this girl to do a dangerous stunt that risks breaking her neck. Hardly.
"Millie, all I'm asking is that you try."
"I can't do it."
"Millie, all I'm asking is that you get on one knee and let Margot step onto your thigh. You won't even be off the ground."
What I wanted to say: "Walking is more dangerous than this, you idiot."
"Let me go call my mom and ask."
"Okay, go call her. We'll wait here."
What I wanted to say: "You better call 911 too because I'm about to beat you to a pulp you poor excuse of a cheerleader."
I understand if you think I'm being harsh, but cheerleading is hard-core. As I always say, If you can't roll with the big dogs, better just go walk your dog.
And Millie wasn't the worst of them. There was Opal, who stood to the side performing her version of Riverdance whenever I tried to teach a cheer. ("I had to quit Irish step-dancing because my mom said it was getting to be too dangerous," she had told me the first time I asked her what the hell she was doing when I was trying to teach a cheer. What does that even mean, "too dangerous?" What? You'll pull your groin? And what IS it with all these girls and their mommies? Does your mommy wipe your ass, too? That's what I should have said. But I had vowed to be a nice captain.) There was Autumn who cried when she couldn't get it right. (And she never did get any of them right. That's why we put her in the back behind Helga, the big one.) And speaking of Helga, she took the liberty of writing me an e-mail the day after our big pep-rally, the one where Helga dropped our flyer. How mature of her to express her feelings in an e-mail. Here is a brief summary:
You think you're so cool. It doesn't even matter that I'm jealous of you because okay, I am, and okay, I have been for a few years, but you don't have the stamina to play the Bari-sax like I do. You'll never be able to play the Bari-sax. All you know how to do is flirt with boys and cheerlead and act and write stories and be a leader. Who cares about all that when you're conceited? All you think about it yourself and how popular you are and you're lucky I'm such a dedicated cheerleader or I would just quit because I've had enough but I love cheerleading as much as I love the Bari-sax and I could never give it up. It's your fault she was dropped in that pep rally. Just hope that next time it won't be you I drop...
And YES, she put the dot-dot-dots. I'll give THAT to her, dot-dot-dots are hella intimidating, especially when they're following a THREAT TO MY LIFE. And honestly, I WILL never be able to play the Bari-sax because I didn't even know the thing existed and if that's all you got on me than good luck with your life.
Confession: I hated my squad.
More Specific Confession: I hated my squad but I loved getting that e-mail.
Confession that May Anger Current Cheerleaders: The only thing I miss are the spanky pants.