Saturday, February 11, 2006

Give Me A L! Give Me an O! Give Me An S! Give Me an E! Give Me an R!

What's that spell? Really crappy cheerleader!

Which is what I was when I was 16. Let me tell you a little about growing up in Canada, submerged by American culture. Despite what Americans may think, we're not the 51st State. We have our own identity and culture, that's constantly fighting to not be swallowed whole by the big bad U.S. of A.

Yet 80 percent of our television programming comes from the US and so it's sometimes hard to feel like you have your own identity.

The reason I'm explaining this really boring difference between the US and Canada, is because it's important to the following story.

As a teenager, my identity as a nerd was solidified by watching shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and reading Sweet Valley High books, so that I could constantly feel inferior that I didn't look like I was 25 with giant boobs and that I wasn't cool, going to parties that had alcohol and deejays and that I would never be popular because I wasn't a cheerleader.

Only problem is, high school sports in Canada are so not important. I don't even think my high school had a football team, although I vaguely remember that we had the picture of some mascot in the gym, so maybe we did. Despite not being popular, I do know that sports did not make you cool at our high school.

Until one day, this girl with bleached blonde hair and a weird face told me that she was trying to revitalize the cheerleading squad (which I guess was non-existent at that point) and since I was skinny, she thought I'd be a good addition.

I was so psyched!

Me! A nerd! On the cheerleading squad!!!!

This would totally give me the teen years that I'd been dreaming of.

Problem #1: I had the flexibility of a piece of 2x4 lumber.

Problem #2: My parents thought it was a ridiculous idea and didn't want me wasting my time on practices, when I should be focused on my studies during my last year of high school to get into a good university (see, it's my parents' fault if I was a nerd.)

So eight of us weirdos (none of the popular girls even wanted to join the cheerleading squad, that's how low on the totem pole cheerleading is in Canada) became our school's squad. I'm not kidding. Besides me, there was the school slut (who we found out two practices in was pregnant, although not showing and since we didn't do any jumps or anything (yeah, we sucked ass), she stayed on), the crazy psycho who started the squad, her two weird friends, the girl who hardly spoke French or English who probably didn't know what she was getting into, the sister of the guy who knocked up the slut, who was probably sent by her brother to keep an eye on the slut so that she didn't hook up with some other guy, and a few other people I don't even recall they were so far down in the high school food chain.

I quickly realized that our weirdo fierce leader was obsessed with cheerleading. She'd gone to cheerleading camp, which I didn't even know existed until that point. Since they didn't have cheerleading camp in Canada, she'd somehow made enough money babysitting and selling her eggs to go to some camp in the middle of nowhere Indiana or Missouri. I'm guessing it wasn't one of the top camps.

She created our routine and hand-sewed our uniform. This makes her sound very talented, so let me clarify. Our routine consisted of us kind of dancing around in place with ginormous fake smiles on our faces (our fierce leader's open gaped smile and distorted face still gives my sisters who were 13 at the time nightmares) and we did this one stunt that involved four of us climbing on the shoulders of the four heaviest girls (I can't remember if the pregnant slut got to be a top or a bottom. I have to say, at the time all of us were too young to know about things you shouldn't do when you're pregnant). Now this stunt will probably make any of you professional cheerleaders laugh, but it was hardcore to me who had the fexibility of a BIC pen. I just could not get this stunt. I kept screwing up every time, and once managed to knock down the girl on the shoulders next to me with my flailing arms. Yeah, I was naturally gifted for this shit. And our uniforms? They were this lop-sided grey and marroon skirt (our school colors) that somehow laid crooked against your thighs. A dollar store would have refused to carry them. And then we were all given a white wife beater that she got on clearance at K-Mart to wear on top. We were from a catholic private school in a middle class neighborhood, but in our uniforms, we looked like the white trash gang from the smallest town in Saskatchewan.

Now here's the best part. Freak show fierce leader decided to enter our team of losers into a national competition that just happened to be coming to our local theme park. We were the 26th team registered. That's how important cheerleading is to Canada, a country of then 30 million people.

Our fierce leader's reasoning for entering the competition was that since there were no football games (I guess we didn't have a team after all, or the season was over), that we didn't have anyone to cheer for. Which is why it made sense to start a cheerleading squad!

And so less than a month after our squad was started, we got to go on stage in front of about 150 to 200 people (a.k.a. the families and friends of the participants). When we got there, my parents realized just how much trouble I was in. All of the other girls had perfect uniforms, their hair all done the same, identical shoes. Our team did whatever the fuck they want and we weren't going to spend good money on new shoes, no sirree.

We got to go somewhere in the middle and so we watched some of the other teams. And they were like those American girls on TV. They threw each other in the air and did splits and kicked legs really high without bending the knees and they all danced perfectly together. "We can actually win this," said our fierce leader, officially proving that she was insane and in serious need of psychiatric help. I was yelled at and told that if I messed up our one stunt, everyone would hate me.

At this point, I had stopped caring, but I didn't like people yelling at me and basically prayed that somehow I would managed to jump on some girl's shoulders without looking like a dying fish.

The team before us finished their routine and the crowd went wild. It was our turn to get on stage. My heart was pounding. We got on stage, did our routine and when it came to our one big stunt, I did it! I jumped on that girl's shoulders and stayed up! I was on cloud nine! And then it got to our big finale where our fierce leader slapped her ass facing the crowd with a freakish clown grin on her face, while we all pretended to be oh so shocked. Yeah, I know, we totally deserved to win, based on that move alone, which of course, our almost professional cheerleader leader came up with.

The crowd was silent. We were jumping up and down on the stage, the happiest losers in the world, excited that we'd done an almost perfect routine at a freaking national competition baby! The crowd, finally figuring that the nightmare had ended and we were leaving the stage, began clapping politely.

We went and rode rides for the rest of the day (the pregnant slut rode all the rollercoasters and bumper cars and stuff, despite the signs that state no pregnant women. I guess she figured she was under 18, so she wasn't technically a woman) and when the rankings were announced, we came in 26th.

That's right. Dead last baby. Our fierce leader was pissed. She said we were completely robbed. Then she said that we came in last place because of me, that I'd brought the quality of the team down and she asked me to quit.

So not only was I on the worst cheerleading squad ever put together, I was told I wasn't good enough for them.

Which is fine. Because now I cheer for Baby Boy and he loves it. He thinks I rock and gives me first place every time, which comes with a slimy award of his hand, that he's just sucked on, smooshed all over my face.



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