Follow Me or Perish, Sweater Monkeys

I spent a few hours at Starbucks today, working on my novel. This particular Bux is a block from an auditorium where many cheerleading/pep squad competitions are held, and apparently one was going on this weekend, because there was a steady stream of cheerleaders coming in to Bux. So many big hair bows, pony tails, teased hair, frosted eye shadow, lip gloss, short shorts and spandex…it was nuts.

I was never a cheerleader, nor did I really want to be. My parochial school didn’t revere sports in the same way that many public high schools do, so it wasn’t a guarantor of popularity. But I think many guys still found the cheerleaders extra cute.

Oddly enough, I still remember a few of the cheers our school’s squad performed. My personal favorite – and I use the word “favorite” with a touch of cynicism here – was the one where the cheerleaders introduced themselves with their name and class. “My name is Moxie, I am a junior, and I’d like to get to know you, yes I’d like to get to know you!” The other one that sticks out is “I got the spirit, oh yeah, I got the spirit, oh yeah,” and then each cheerleader had a different place where her spirit was located. One would say “it’s in my hip, now watch me dip,” and another girl would say “it’s in my skirt, now watch me flirt.” I now wonder if there were more obscene lines they came up with in the locker room, like “it’s in my ass, now watch me sass” or “it’s in my tits, watch me do splits.”

Being the pop culture junkie that I am, I now always think of Bring It On, one of my favorite evil nosh films, whenever I see cheerleaders. Today it was all I could do to not start yelling out random lines from the movie at the girls, or “Ready, O-KAY!” Truth is, cheerleaders are fascinating. The ones who are super committed to it can be great athletes, and I don’t necessarily think they are stupid. All the girls on my high school’s squad were honor students, and several are now doctors. And they had to put up with a bunch of cynical, jaded teenagers. As the cheerleader in Fast Times at Ridgemont High says, “You know, it takes a lot of courage to get up here and do something that you know people will make fun of.”

So here’s to you, cheer teams. You got the spirit, oh yeah!