Wednesday, January 28, 2009
1982 Popularity and Cheerleaders
Now I didn't completely waste all my energy in Jr High dodging the redneck's threats and name calling. I was obsessed with the McNiel Mustang cheerleaders! Some people idolize movie stars, well I idolized cheerleaders. I was a walking encyclopedia of facts on cheerleaders past and present. At McNiel the cheerleaders were chosen by the student body. In other words it was a popularity contest. Some schools chose their cheerleaders by 70% student vote and 30% teacher vote. If this method would have been used at our school it would have put a kink in our popularity heirarchy. You would've had to be more than just pretty or popular to win. Wouldn't that have been just terrible. LOL. Most of the girls that made cheerleader were already popular or if a girl was gymnastically inclined she could win and become popular. LOL. One cheerleader that reined supreme was Courtney B. She was incredibly friendly with Farrah hair. She wore Gloria Vanderbilt jeans too, the ones with the swan and Gloria's signature on the pocket. Looking back all of this pretentiousness was absurd but as a young teenager it seemed very important. I'm sure it had something to do with wanting to be well liked myself. I probably thought if I could figure out what made a person popular I could be popular myself or perhaps I was just an 80's version of Perez Hilton.
My sister Deidre was two years behind me so I was determined that she would be miss popular, a cheerleader. If I couldn't do it, I could help her be all I wasn't. I asked her if she wanted my help and she agreed. I helped her with her hair almost every morning and even went on a few occasions to the track field where there was a huge mat that she used to practice gymnastics. By the time the try outs came around she was so tired of listening to my input. I drove her crazy talking about it. On the morning of the tryouts I was so excited I skipped class to attend. Deidre looked so cute with her hair all curled up in candlestick curls with brand new braces. I convinced her the braces would improve her looks and more or less a requirement if she wanted to win cheerleader. WOW. She was doing great at tryouts and was a sure win until at the end of her routine she went too fast into a round-off and ended up on her ass with tears streaming down her face. I rushed over at the end and assured her it wouldn't matter that she had fallen. I tried to convince her that she would still win. She was just so upset and her eyes full of tears. I hugged her and told her again, "You're still gonna win Deidre." When I left I felt so bad that I had put so much importance on winning. It had not occurred to me until now that she might think I expected her to win and would disapprove of her otherwise. It was then that I realized how unimportant it really was to me. Whether or not she was cheerleader meant nothing when I realized how crushed she might be coming home feeling like a loser. When I saw the tears in her eyes everything changed. It was like what is really important in life came into focus and priorities rearranged automatically. I guess the big brother in me finally kicked in and I didn't want to see her hurt over this. I stayed at home all day and waited by the phone until Deidre called about 2:30 pm to say that she won. I was jumping up and down and she was really excited too. She came home to a celebration but it was interrupted by the former cheerleaders showing up to pick Deidre up for the traditional initiation ritual. They covered the six winners in shaving cream, maple syrup, peanut butter, toothpaste and took them to the mall for the evening. When she got home mother had to take her out to the backyard and wash her hair out with the water hose. Deidre was once again in tears.