Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheerleader or Nerd - Wacky Wednesday

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 always wanted to be a cheerleader - wear the cute little outfits on game day, and shake my "pom-poms." Cheerleaders got excused from school for away games, rode the team bus with the players, and always got the cute guys. Boys always wanted to date a cheerleader. It was like an ultimate code of acceptance from the other male chromosomes if your girlfriend was one. I wanted to be "that girl" who dated "that guy" and was naïve enough to think I had a chance.

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
"Untangling superheroes from their capes."
Joelene creates journeys of discovery, inspired by all the "first times" of youthful innocence. She loves writing in the young adult romance genre because in her mind, she is still seventeen and think boys are hot!

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!"


Christina Wolfer said...


Thank you so much for agreeing to do Wacky Wednesday here at Romance by Chance. I look forward to your posts every Wednesday and am thrilled to have you here today.

Sandy said...

Too funny -- I woke up this morning with this song running through my head: "Don't lose your confidence, if you slip, be grateful for a pleasant trip, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again."
It's true when you get older you regret the things you didn't do --were afraid to step out of your comfort zone -- and not the ones you did.

Ciara said...

Loved this story. :) It is something we can all relate to, and it was so well told. I've been one of those people that throw themselves into embarrassment over and over again. I, too, tried out for cheering. Yeah, the fact I had NO ballet, gymnastic, or any related experience didn't' stop me. LOL I did make the dance squad, though. :)

Calisa Rhose said...

As usual Joelene you made my day! I laughed, I cried...ok it was the laughter. But I empathize 100%. When I was 16 my sister and I took little brother to the public pool one summer. Now I don't do public pools. I have no chest to speak of...or not to speak of. I have no hips (having three babies didn't help; I tried it) and I'm height challenged to the minor. I was much more comfortable in jeans and on the back of a horse. I went to buy a new bikini, found a cute orange and white geometric-designed one. Went to pay for it and the lady at the counter- in front of my DAD! for heaven's sake, and other customers- asked as she wrapped my prize in a sack; "What're ya goin' ta put in that, honey?" WTH? I laughed and ran from the store with gales of laughter as my escape theme song.
So we go swimming. I'm having a great time- a miracle in itself as shy as I was back in those days (I've grown out of it for the most part, but not completely). Then a cute boy from school dove in and carried my heart, and my confidence, with him to the bottom of the deep end. I decided I could do that, catch his eye, maybe. I dove, my sister (did I mention she was the evil big sister?) cheered me on. Then she was the first to laugh when I came to the surface with my top around my scrawny neck. I went home. I'm pretty sure I may have burned that bikini.

Now if you tell anyone about this, I'll deny it. :-)

Jan Romes said...

This story made me smile but also tugged at my heartstrings. It rallied memories of my own quest to be a cheerleader and gain the attention of the jock. (we won't go there though...lol) Anyway, your determination was incredible and you won -- just differently!! Thanks for sharing! :-)

Patricia said...

Oh, this was wonderfully told, Joelene, and incredibly funny, though I felt your pain! Thank you for the post. But it IS a lesson in breaking out of your comfort zone and "going for it" toward a goal that you really, really want enough to spread your wings (or legs, in your case). Just kidding....

J. Coleman said...

Ok, now I'm laughing! Calisa, I lost my top waterskiing at a church function! Had boys jumping in from boats all around to my aid, but luckily, I was the first to grab the top. Thanks for stopping by!

Loretta said...

This was so cute, and told SO well:) No wonder you like writing YA...your recall of "how it was" is perfect:) It takes a certain nack to do that...I've always felt Stephen King remembered well also. He captures so many YA moments in most of his work.
I've had so many moments I'm not sure I can recall all of them. I did wind up with the captain of the football team though, without being a cheerleader..we went to church together, and he found my bobby-sox (remember those?) and tanned legs alluring ... I think you winding up with the ring of the tennis guy still helped you "land" just right:)
This was a great way to begin my day on the computer:) I'm on sinus meds and have only one good eye at the moment (the other one's still in a drugged stupor;)...what better way than to begin with whoops of laughter and a feeling of sharing life's little tragedies and recoveries:) Loved the pink panties girl, evidently they did you proud:)

J. Coleman said...

Thanks for lending your "good eye" this way! Unfortunately, I remember "bobby socks" all too well. For me, it was knee highs and saddle oxfords. Ouch! There's a "teller!"

~Sia McKye~ said...

Joelene, funny story. My parents wouldn't let me try out for cheerleaders. It crossed my mind a couple of times during one year in 9th grade.

I can recall one moment. We were in the gym weight lifting room--11th grade we liked to watch the guys lift. In this school girls weren't allowed to mess with the weights. I've always been very strong. Came from working summer construction with my dad. I remember one of the guy's spotter left his post and he couldn't get the bar off his chest. Afterward I found out he wasn't supposed to be lifting that weight. I came over and lifted it off him. Blew his mind I could even lift it. I didn't think it all that heavy. You know how the I dare yous go. He got me to try and I did. 175lbs and five lifts later the male gym teacher had a cow. He at least waited until he took the weight before he started yelling at me(I was embarrassed and I think I mouthed off about wimpy boys playing with weights they couldn't handle). And I realized I had done it to an audience including a cute senior who had been flirting with me an I was interested in and he would have nothing to do with me after that. Apparently he took exception to the wimpy boys part. Lets just say there were several names tagged on me after that--superwoman and Xena were the nicest tags.

I forgot all about that. But it did teach me a valuable lesson--don't hide who you are or your accomplishments because someone might be jealous or think badly of you. Be who you are.

Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

Anonymous said...

Great post! I really enjoyed this, and for the record, I could never master the back flip, either!

-Tracy C

J. Coleman said...

Xena has a killer body! I agree...wimpy boys. Hate that men are automatically considered "stronger." That's why we write kickass heroines - to save the superheroes trapped in their capes! Thanks for stopping by.

Christina Wolfer said...

I agree, Sandy. I would rather have regrets for things tried and failed vs regrets over having not tried at all.

Ciara, for some reason, I can see you throwing yourself into things, but I imagine you as the type to usually land on your feet.

Thank you, ladies, for stopping by.

Christina Wolfer said...

Calisa, I had a similar experience in a bathing suit coming down the wet slide. Needless to say, I avoid slides at the waterpark now.

Good one, Patti.

Sandy L. Rowland said...

I'd laugh, but it's also sad. I'm sure you were devastated at least a day.
Hoots to you for proving we can survive pushing our limits and come out as winners just for trying.
Excellent post.

Julie Glover said...

What a great story you told. I think we all have our embarrassing moments growing up. Beyond my comfort zone? Boldest thing I ever did? I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico - with no job, no apartment, sight unseen. I simply wanted an adventure. I got it! Within two weeks, I had employment, an apartment, and met my future husband. Now that's a wonderful story I'll have to tell sometime. Thanks, Joelene.

Christina Wolfer said...

Hi Sandy and Julie,

I know what you mean. We all have embarrassing moments and we know from experience how humilated she must have been at the time. The very reason we can laugh now, because we get it. Obviously, some good stories can come out of those moments.

Julie, I can only imagine the stories you could tell from the move to New Mexico. I bet you look back on that time now and think, wow, I can't believe I did that, yet feel proud of the fact you did.

Thank you for stopping in.