I wanted to be a cheerleader in the 7th grade. I was skinny and dorky and nervous. BUT, my super cool cousin, Cindy, was the captain. She was a 9th grader. So, maybe I had a chance – nepotism and all. She graciously took me under her wing, and attempted to teach me a cheer for tryouts. We could do any cheer we wanted which was pretty neat. Cindy had a whole repertoire from which to select. I was a cheerleader moron – a blank slate.
Cindy selected a cheer and helped me master it, paying special attention to my floppy arms and overall gawkiness. We worked on it in the front yard during the summer before tryouts. I remember it very well.
Tic-Toc, It’s Time to Rock
Let’s Have a Vic-to-ry!
Tic-Toc, The Game is Locked,
And the Jackets, (clap-clap) Have the Key.
Clearly, she did not want me on the squad. Not the coolest cheer in the ole cheer book. Of course this was the 70s.
My sister and I loved to spend the night with Mam-maw Ruby and Papa Homer when Cindy was there. Cindy was our leader. Our inspiration. She wore Cover Girl makeup – lots of it – and removed it with Noxema. We weren’t allowed. She looked like those models on Teen Magazine. She even did some modeling in Memphis. How could we EVER compete with this? For a period of time, she even spelled her name Cindi – with an ‘i’. She was that kind of girl. She could just change her own name, and everyone went right along with it. She knew just how to apply that tanning lotion – QT. I tried to do it one time but my hands turned completely rusted and my legs looked corroded. She was bronze. I couldn’t leave the house for a week. My dad thought she freaking hung the moon. So did we.
Tryouts made me very nervous. I was sure I wouldn’t make the squad – I wore gold wire rim glasses! How can you cheer in glasses? I was Jan Brady. Cindy, of course, was Marcia. Most definitely. She had straight, long, shiny, brown hair that swung across her back as she walked around the Keiser playground. Just like Marcia. AND, her boyfriend was James Parks – ohsweetjesus. If he even looked in my direction I stuttered. He too was in the 9th grade. AND, he was the big brother of my best friend. So, I got to look at him a lot. Marcia had Davy Jones; Cindy had James Parks, and I had glasses. Like Jan.
Cindy worked and worked with me on the splits – it was part of the tryout test. There was no way I could do the splits. Not even close. How could I possibly be a cheerleader and not do the splits? My legs didn’t work that way. She gave me homework – stretching exercises which I did religiously, on my own time. Staci, my little sister who also was uncool – tried to help. She stood over me and pushed my shoulders down, trying to force me into the splits. Surprisingly, to my knowledge, I didn’t rupture anything. I rubbed vaseline into my knees, trying to limber them up (my own idea). No luck. Cindy was as nimble as Raggedy Ann. She could actually sit on the floor Indian style and put her feet around her head! She invented the flowering lotus pose before yoga was invented. We were first cousins! Why couldn’t I do that?
When the time came for tryouts, I took my glasses off and handed them to Cindy. a) I didn’t want to be a four-eyes; and b) I didn’t want to be able to see anyone in the stands, especially Mrs. Ashley who selected the team. The team needed a blind cheerleader – I was sure of it. I couldn’t see a thing without my glasses. I squinted the entire time. Attractive.
Amazingly, I did make the squad. Maybe everyone made it? I don’t remember, and I didn’t know because I couldn’t see. I was too cool now for glasses. Thanks to Cindy, I’m certain.
Later, in 1977, the year I turned Sweet 16, I actually had my first date – with James Parks. Still the most handsome boy in Keiser, somehow Becky and I finagled a double date with James and his best friend, Lance. They took us to the Osceola drive-in theatre, across from the graveyard. The movie was Walking Tall, but I couldn’t concentrate on it. I was too aware of James sitting so close to me in that dark back seat of Lance’s dusty car. I had no idea how I had gotten so lucky to be on my first date with James Parks! I was pretty sure being a cheerleader helped. James played football. Later, we learned Becky’s dad tradedhis best hunting dog to Lance to entice him into this date. Nice. I still have no idea what my daddy promised to James, but I would have given my eye teeth and sold my soul to truly get his attention. Of course, I was just his little sister’s annoying friend and he never gave me a second thought. I don’t even think he knew I was there. I’m sure he was still thinking about Cindy.
I actually saw James Parks a few weeks ago on his way to a funeral, and he asked me about Cindy. I KNEW he was still thinking about her.
Ella Fitzgerald, “Blue Moon”
Johnny Rodriguez, “Ridin’ My Thumb to Mexico”
|Keiser Jr. High Cheerleaders
I’m on the far left standing on one leg like a flamingo?