Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mally Made the Cheerleading Squad

In honor of my granddaughter Mallory, I present the following excerpt from an an account of
my failed attempt at being a cheerleader.

I love you Mal, and am certain that you will make a MUCH better cheeleader than I did!

     I don’t know if you ever heard of a powderpuff football game or not. The very term is probably considered sexist these high-powered modern days. Anyway, the girls would put on the shoulder pads and helmets and the knee-britches and all, and then go out on the field and just pound away at one another. The object was one of hilarity for the spectators as they observed wobbly forward passes, backfield collisions, wrong-way runs and general ineptitude. Like I say, pretty sexist stuff, I guess. You gotta consider the benighted times, though, right?

     The reason I’m telling you all this is that, of course, the cheerleaders decided to stage a powderpuff game (the term is so archaic, by the way, that my spellchecker keeps coming on every time I type the word) and, naturally, the equal and opposite idea occurred that the guys should be cheerleaders if the women were going to be competing for gridiron glory. Innocent enough, right? I’m not even going to remind you of the obvious fact that whatever sounds so harmless in theory usually isn't so harmless when you actually do it.

Mrs. Jenson, the cheerleader sponsor, informed us guys that we must learn some cheers. It had turned out that there were only seven of us confident enough with our masculinity (or goofy enough) to go through the ordeal of dressing up in cheerleader outfits. Nobody thought we would actually have to learn cheers too.

     Mrs. J. taught us some simple ones like:

           Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar,

          All for juniors, stand up and holler.


         Hurrah for juniors, Hurrah for juniors

         Someone in the stands is yelling “Hurrah for juniors”

         One-Two-Three-Four, Who ya gonna yell for?

         Juniors, that’s who!

      Then Ronald Cowsner threw in:

          Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind

          Look on the scoreboard and see who’s behind!

     But Mrs. J. said we would skip that one and learn just one more instead. That’s when Dicky Parker suggested “Rocka-Cha-Cha.” Now Dicky seemed like an alright ole boy and all, but sometimes ya wondered about the guy. I mean he was one of the ones who didn’t go out for the football team and I’m not saying anything, but you know? Now, here he was, wanting Mrs. Jenson to teach us “Rocka-Cha-Cha.”

     The words to this cheer went like this:

          Let’s GO, Rocka Rocka and a Cha Cha Cha

          Let’s FIGHT, Rocka Rocka and a Cha Cha Cha

          Let’s WIN, Rocka Rocka and a Cha Cha Cha

          GO .........FIGHT..........WIN

          CHA CHA CHA,

this last bit while putting your hands behind your head and doing this hip-wiggle thing that looked real cute when the girls did it, but what self-respecting guy would want to “look cute” in front of his classmates, and his parents and the whole school and all? So we were about ready to KILL Dicky Parker cause Mrs. Jenson thought it would be great if we learned the cheer and nothing could be said to talk her out of it. I even told her I didn’t think my parents would let me do it because we were Baptist. No dice. And what about those cheerleader outfits?

     My girlfriend, Juanita, was halfback on the junior’s team and, as I mentioned, she was a cheerleader. No, I mean a real cheerleader who actually stood on the sidelines on Friday nights and yelled for the Bears to go-fight-win. Anyway, she thought it would be real cute if I wore her uniform, which consisted of a pleated maroon skirt, a white turtleneck, a maroon vest, and this little Tyrolean-looking hat, but without the feather, that just screamed SISSY. In the first place, as I also mentioned, no normal guy wants to look “cute,” and in the second place, did you ever see how girls stick their chin down and look up at you and kinda poke their lip out when they want something and you’re not cooperating? It’s disgusting.

    So anyway, the uniform fit me all right, just the vest was a little tight in the shoulders. Actually the whole dressing-up thing seemed like a lark when we first agreed to it, but none of us had considered the consequences of it, though we drew the line at wearing lipstick and absolutely refused to kick up our legs behind us like cheerleaders do. I mean, none of that stuff.

     Reality began to dawn on the morning of the game when I was packing Juanita’s cheerleader uniform in my gym bag and realized that by 2 p.m., I would be standing in front of a bunch of people, wearing a Maroon pleated skirt, white turtleneck, tight maroon vest and a silly little maroon hat. Oh yeah, and my little sister insisted that I wear the plastic blonde pageboy wig she had gotten last Christmas, and I didn’t want to hurt the kid’s feelings. My only solace was that six of my classmates would share my misery.

      The good news was that my fellow cheerleaders looked even sillier (if that were possible) than I did, which I found out as we were getting dressed in the locker room before the game. Most of them had managed to borrow the stupid-looking hat from their girlfriend or a cheerleader buddy. Dicky Parker wore his sister’s outfit and looked better in it than she did, though if you tell anybody I said it, I’ll swear you’re lying like a rug.  The other guys were wearing various combinations of maroon skirts and white tops that their moms had dragged up from somewhere for them. All except Ronald Cowsner. I once read a story by Mark Twain where he was describing something that he said would have made a cow laugh. I never understood what he meant until I saw Ronald in his get-up. First-off, Ronald was a big ole, slow-moving, corn-fed country boy who played left tackle on offense. When he wasn’t rockin’ his cha-cha at powderpuff games, that is. I don’t know what Amazon woman he’d gotten it off of, but he’d found a reddish-purplish skirt that hung down about halfway to his ankles. He had on one of his daddy’s white short-sleeved Sunday shirts and since he kept his hair in a crewcut, he had one of his little brother’s diapers tied over his head and up under his chin like an old washerwoman. But the killer was the bra. He must have lifted one of his mother’s bras from the clothesline. She was a well endowed woman and he had it stuffed full of toilet paper and not knowing how to adjust it, I suppose, wore ‘em low, gunslinger-style, down close to the waistline.

     So we ran onto the field, waving our pom-poms. I mentioned we had pom-poms, didn’t I? Of course, there were hoots, catcalls and whistles. Ronald was prancing around like he had no shame, so most of the attention was focused on him. Also the crowd was paying attention to the girls, warming up out on the field. I scanned the stands to make sure my dad wasn’t there. Thank goodness for small favors anyway.

     Next, the referee did the coin toss and we started with the ball on our twenty yard line. It had been decided to forego the kickoff since the kickers would miss the football, as often as not, when they tried to kick from the tee.

     The girls had practiced their hearts out and played really well, actually, but at crucial moments, somebody would fumble or throw the ball to the wrong team or tackle the referee (which is a penalty, even in a powderpuff game) or something like that, so by the fourth quarter, the score was knotted at nothing-all. The sophomores had the ball deep in their own territory with not much over a minute left to play. It was crunch-time. So we brought out our secret weapon.

     “Let’s do ‘Rocka-Cha-Cha,’” said Dicky Parker, whom we had elected cheerleader captain because he just looked so right for the job in his sister Charlotte’s uniform. We all nodded. Our team needed us.

     Dicky yelled out:


          “Cha Cha” (us)

          “One-Two” (him)

          “Cha-Cha-Cha” (all)

          “Let’s GO, Rocka Rocka and a Cha-Cha-Cha” (Two crossover steps to the right, arms extended to the front, then to the sides in a “T”)

           “Let’s FIGHT, Rocka Rocka and a Cha-Cha-Cha” (Crossover back to the left, same arm movements as before)

          “Let’s WIN, Rocka Rocka and a Cha-Cha-Cha” (Two steps forward, same arm motions)

          “GO” (Arms extended to the front)

          “FIGHT” (Arms extended to sides)

          “WIN” (Arms overhead in a “Y”) (Then hands clasp behind head and hips wiggle)


     At the last “CHA,” as if on cue, one of Ronald’s bosoms sprang a leak and toilet paper, a lot of toilet paper, spilled out from under the front of his white shirt and into a fluffy pile at his feet.

     There was silence for a moment, then from somewhere about the middle of the stands, came a sound that can only be described as a cross between a war-whoop and someone choking to death. Waves of laughter followed us as we fled the sidelines with Ronald trailing a streamer of toilet paper from his other bosom.

     On the field, everybody stopped playing to observe and join in the hilarity. Everybody, that is, but Carolyn Mullins, the sophomore quarterback, who had just received the snap from center and proceeded to reel off an eighty yard touchdown run with nobody watching but the referee. The game ended six to nothing, sophomores.

     I discovered, that day, that there is a reason for gender roles; the things a girl would look cute and adorable doing, a guy would look just plain stupid attempting. Turns out cheerleading is one of those things..

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