When I was little, I was a midget football cheerleader. This required me to jump around one day a week in a cute little pleated skirt. Not much skill was involved. Hell, I’m not even sure we ever practiced. I basically would show up, wave my pom-pom like it was a snow globe, and eagerly take down the orange slices and juice boxes at half time.
My parents were REALLY proud.
Fast forward to sophomore year of high school. I opted to try out for basketball cheerleading, as I realized all the coveted football cheerleading spots already would be taken by girls way cooler than me. Not only were they cool, but they could talk and walk at the same time, maybe even chew gum too! And between you and me, I rather looked forward to getting drunk and high before or after football games on Friday nights. I really didn’t want to miss out (sorry Mom!).
Now, as all of you readers already know, I’m not very coordinated. I’m not very athletic. I’m not even all that passionate about sports. I like sports, don’t get me wrong, but when you think of a cheerleader, I’m probably not the first person that pops in your mind. I am a pretty bubbly, happy person, but that’s mostly because of the medication.
If it’s a prescription, it’s LEGAL. Remember that.
Anyway, in the days leading up to the tryout, I practiced the cheer over and over, stretching and flexing and doing my best to play the part.
Oh, also, my parents thought me making the team would be a modern-day miracle. I tend to get very nervous in front of any sort of crowd. We are talking shaking hands, sweating and blushing. I’m 32 friggin’ years old and I still blush. It totally sucks. I’m at a meeting and get called to answer a question and feel the hot burn on my face. And the more I try to stop the blood from going to my head, the pinker I get.
The same thing happens when an attractive man pays any attention at all to me. There was a very attractive man in my building at my old job who I would see infrequently and make darting glances in his direction. We happened to be alone once in the elevator and he smiled at me and said (as normal people do), “Hey, how are you?” I quickly looked down and turned the other way as I barely croaked out “Nothing,” and then darted out the elevator the second it opened.
It wasn’t my floor.
So I had to slink past him back into the elevator as he avoided eye contact and walked away. I can cross him off my future boyfriend list.
Back to tryouts. I was going before a few of my good friends, so they built me up saying how great I was going to do and not to worry about a thing. As my turn approached, I could barely control my shaking legs. I looked anxiously at the judges and thought, “Here goes!”
I ran into the room hooting and hollering about the Knights, waving my arms and fingers in the air. SPIRIT FINGERS!!! When it came time for me to do my final kick, things started to go downhill. I’m not sure what happened, but as I went to kick my right leg in the air I also kicked my left leg in the air as well. I basically did a pseudo ninja kick, except I was not in fact a ninja, nor was I fighting off evil. Not to mention my feet only leapt inches off the ground. The only thing this ninja may have been fighting are termites on the ground.
I couldn’t believe I had done this and started to freak out. “Oh my god, oh no, oh my god!” I yelled as I covered my face and turned quickly in circles. I wasn’t sure what else to do, so I ran and hid behind the judges’ table behind a rolled up wrestling mat.
The judges coaxed me out, and I managed to get through the rest of my routine. I was almost in tears. When they told me to stand and wait at the side of the room, instead of standing fists on hips like a good cheerleader should, I popped a squat right there on the ground and covered my face.
And guess what? I made the team.
I made the fucking team.
You wanna know WHY I made the team?
Because the number of girls who tried out were equal to the number of girls who could make the team.
And so began my career as a spotter.
No one is perfect. Mistakes will be made. You have to take responsibility, keep your cool and continue on with life.
You DON’T have to mimic a dog chasing its tail as you yell out “oh my god” as if the world is ending. You DON’T run BEHIND the judges and HIDE behind a mat of any kind.
Seeing that I made the team, I did not learn my lesson. I laughed hysterically at the fact that I made the team. And my friends who witnessed this debacle as they were peeking through the windows, to this day, have not let me live that performance down.