By Joelene Coleman
I went to a parade Saturday to watch my granddaughter on a float (I hate parades in general. Grandchildren force you to do things you don't like). I watched the marching bands stroll by, followed by the cheerleaders jumping and whooping behind. My "Wacky Wednesday" topic presented itself, unfortunately, taking another embarrassing page from my life. From age 13 to 17, I lived through various stages of "nerdiness." However, this event at age 15 placed me at "Mega Nerd."
I signed up for tryouts. A few things became immediately clear that I hadn't given a second thought to. Besides coming up with my own cheer and making a costume, I'd have to pull off some amazing spine damaging entrance and exit stunts. In front of the student body. Piece of cake? My brain had been abducted by my hormones. All I could see was me and the Quarterback cuddling under the bleachers, me wearing his letterman jacket and his class ring dangling on a chain close to my heart. Yeah, I could do this.
I wish my brain blocked this traumatic memory, because my road to becoming a cheerleader proved disastrous. I came up with my 4-liner masterpiece of prose, destined to wow the judges. Made my pom-poms. But my outfit? Oh dear Lord! My girlfriend and I picked a pattern for a cutesy one piece jumper thing, but her mother helped her. My mom didn't sew so my jumper bulged in the wrong places and the seam down my backside wanted to tuck between my "cheeks."
Every day I practiced in the back yard on the soft grass. I had cartwheels down, round-offs perfected, and ten years of ballet and contortionist gymnastics insured I could do the splits. The one thing I couldn't master was a backward flip. I tried repeatedly, but something about thrusting my body backward onto palms facing an unnatural direction, then propelling my legs over my head and landing in a soft bounce on the balls of my feet, proved impossible. I fell sideways, rolled into an overdramatized summersault, but never an actual handspring.
Two days before tryouts and still, no flip. I adjusted my routine to add a couple extra round-offs, hoping no one kept count. "D-day" arrived and I spent most the day inside the girls' bathroom. When 3:30 rolled around, I felt weak. But there was no copping out. I lined up in the locker room to get my number pinned on my back, just above the "wedgy line." I watched the contestants before me, taking mental notes on what worked, volume, and how many back flips. Everyone, including my girlfriend, managed at least one off. Well hell.
The girl right before me did four back flips for her entrance! The crowd loved her! I felt a trickle of sweat scurry between my breasts and my breath lodge in my throat. Of course she had to wow the crowd with a fantabulous exit, too! My cartwheels and round-offs would prove lackluster, if not downright hilarious. My name was called. It all went downhill from there.
I ran enthusiastically from the gym door, noting the blue tape where I was to begin the "wow factor." The wedgy tightened and I fought to not run knock-kneed, reminding myself the crowd would not see my backside. I tossed my pom-poms and performed a perfect round-off the minute my toe edged the blue mark. Points earned. A couple of cartwheels landed me square on the next mark. Another plus. I vaguely remember doing my cheer, because when I gathered my fluffs of crepe paper and turned, panic ensued. The crowd was much larger than I anticipated, and behind the panel of judges sat the football team. The Quarterback. On the bench beside him, the jacket, on his finger, the class ring. I had no choice. If I wanted an inkling of a chance at winning my prize, I'd have to do a back flip - one where I'd end in the splits.
I started my descent. Life unfolded in slow motion. Two round-offs executed with precision, and then…my back arched in a tight curve. Hands slapped the polished hardwood angled enough to support my weight or break my wrists if things went awry. I studied the wood grain of the slats, feeling my legs leave solid ground; my wedgy exposed and tucked even tighter in fear. When both appendages lined up over head, I felt my shorts slip! Holy crap! My underwear was exposed!! (Did I wear good ones?) Seconds felt like hours before my toes eased onto the floor and my body propelled upright, ponytail swinging over my red face. Immediately, I pushed my leg forward into the splits, but I'd landed wrong. My left foot was forward more so than my right and I couldn't shuffle. My legs spread and the force of my body coming out of the flip slammed me against the floor. Any chance of having children in the future disappeared. A searing pain radiated up my leg and I cried out…luckily covering the sound of the "fart."
I didn't make it to the final round. My prize? A pulled ligament, not the Quarterback. However, I did pull off my one and only back flip, even if I split my shorts in the process. The upside to my downfall? I still got the letterman jacket and class ring, only it ended up being from the captain of the tennis team, not the football team, but proved a better prize all around. He did confess after several months of dating, it was my exposed pink panties that won his heart that day. I never asked if he heard the fart. It didn't matter. He like me anyway. Wedgy and all.
So why share this embarrassing moment from the page of my life? Because life is a "blackboard"…always another lesson being scribbled across it and once we pass the pop quiz, erased and ready for the next. Trying out for cheerleader was my first attempt at stepping out of my "comfort zone" and doing something really scary. I'm very shy (I know, shocker to most of you). But I discovered when I wanted something bad enough, I was willing to go up against the fear. Each time we stretch beyond our limits, we grow. All my shortcomings, embarrassing moments, and shining achievements have shaped who I am. (I'd like to believe it's the "shining moments" that tipped the scales and shoved me out of a Size 4).
Tell us about a time you stepped out of your comfort zone. Was it to get a boys attention or was it the first time you let someone read something you'd written? Was it an embarrassing moment or a shining success?
Thanks, Joelene, for sharing your wonderful sense of humor with us. To check out other hilarious Wacky Wednesday posts visit Joelene at http://www.jcolemanauthor.blogspot.com/.
Joelene Coleman writes young adult as Harley Brooks
When she needs to escape life, Joelene jumps on her Harley Davidson in search of her new muse. She doesn't believe in "I can't," and has stepped so far out of her "box," she has no idea where it is anymore. Besides, she's never been comfortable with square - she prefers round...."give what you can and the good will come back to you. Here's "winking" at you!"