Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Exercise. Blah. That about sums it up for me.

Growing up with no coordination, rhythm or hand-eye coordination may or may not be to blame for my lack of enthusiasm on the subject. (Let's just say anything involving movement then or now is a wee bit of a challenge.)

Amazingly enough, as a child and in middle school, I was incredibly well rounded considering my lack of skill. Somehow, I managed to be on the basketball team, the softball team, the cheerleading squad, the dance team, and the tennis team...AND I only got hit in the face twice. (Disclaimer: all of the above NOT actual teams)

I know what you're thinking...WHAT ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL?? (You get that question a lot when you're in your 30s...)

So, as I'm cruising through high school, checkin' out the scene, I decide that I am pretty badass. I see flyers posted, announcing tryouts, and I'm Marcia Brady-ing it. I'm snapping off tabs, taking notes, scribbling dates...you name it. I am ON it!

Tryout number 1: Cheerleading...

The flyer said that tryouts started at 3:30. I got there at 3:25....in jeans, a vest, and penny loafers. I sat biting my nails as I waited for the show to start (that's right..I said "show"...because that is what I thought was happening. I thought a demonstration or pep rally of some sort was about to occur. I didn't know people sat in a row and expected you to do stuff that they would then judge. No clue. (quick background: I went to a small religious school prior to high school) I had no knowledge of "tryouts"...I came from a place where EVERYONE made the team! I figured "tryouts" meant "try out" like "try this sport out and see if you like it." (and of course...I KNEW I liked it...I'd been doing it for like the last 3 years...duh.)

This place was packed. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a familiar face. I rushed over to her to say "hello", grateful to have someone to talk to (these were the stone ages people...no cell phones= no texting, no web surfing, no Facebook, no app shopping...just paper...that's it. Paper for writing. Paper in books. Paper texts (we called them "notes"), paper games of tabletop football (which I never played so I'm not sure why I'm mentioning it...). Paper, paper, paper!)
Footnote: actually, paragraph note: All of the above sentences in parentheses should have been read in an uppity, judgmental, highly irritated British accent. Go back if you need to...I've got time.

So anyway, I see this girl that I don't actually know, but I recognize her from some class we have in common (or she rode my bus...or she sat near me in the cafeteria...) and I run up to her, calling her by name. "Betsy! Hi! Hi Betsy!" (this is the best I could come up with...) Betsy starts digging in her bag, adjusting her laces, tightening her hair tie, fixing her mascara...doing anything she can to avoid eye contact with me. Hmmm. She quite obviously does not have as clear a remembrance of me as I her...but I'm persistent. She must not have heard me. I reach out and touch her to get her attention, and she looks up from folding her sleeves, stunned. "Hi?" She greets me with an embarrassed, rushed question, worried someone might notice us mingling...right before the show. I smile back at her, racking my brain for something relevant to say when she looks me up and down in full elevator style before saying, "Aren't you going to change? I mean...you can't try out like that."

For the first time, I noticed her clothing.

Umbros...(I think they are soccer shorts...? They appear to be for working out...). T-shirt. Sneakers. Sweatbands...sweatbands?! Uh oh. What kind of a show was this?!

I could feel myself starting to sweat. Ok I'm not gonna lie. I. WAS. FULL OUT. PANICKING!

It was 3:28 and I had NOTHING to wear. Suddenly I noticed EVERYONE had Umbros on...and no one...I mean NO ONE had jeans and fucking penny loafers on. My elitist acquaintance saw her opportunity to be rid of me. "I mean...well, I guess you could just put your gym uniform on or whatever."

I took her suggestion as an order and booked it to my gym locker. I changed as fast as I could and was horrified to discover that my favorite pair of Keds was NOT there. Drats! Oh! I do remember now...I took them home to wash! (Yes...this is true....and yes, these are the kind of thoughts that went through my head at age 14...it's almost like someone plucked me right out of that old timey tv show Little House on the Prairie...which coincidentally was on my parents "approved" list..)

What could I do?! TIME...she was a-wastin! I pulled up my gym shorts, tucked in my gym shirt, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, untucked my shirt and then put my penny loafers back on. I was a stylish vixen...a sight to behold...ready to KILL this "try" "out".

I stepped back into the designated area, and heard my name being called out by an elfish girl with a clipboard. After the announcement was made that I would be next, I let out a loud "Whew!" A couple girls looked over at me so I waved.

I was RELIEVED to have made it back in time! I watched the girl before me jump and flip and punch the air and yell...and I thought, "Hmm. I wonder if she really wants to try this out or not."

The judges called me forward and I flashed them a blinging, reflective silver smile, grateful my lips didn't get stuck on my braces.

As they looked me over, they were so impressed...they were speechless.

An older lady with a blonde bob and a sour expression cleared her throat and said, "Toe touch?"

I happily and proudly obliged, barely jumping off the ground and stretching my fingers just beyond my thighs before feeling my feet slide out from under me. Damn penny loafers...so fucking slippery! and then...I'm not perfect, but I am enthusiastic! (I even cheered myself on in my head! I was made for this gig...)

More throat clearing. (As an adult, I now realize they were most likely doing their best not to bust out in belly slapping guffaws, but back then, I said, 'Those three...they all must be smokers..habitual smokers...that stuff will kill you, you know...'

The person sitting in the middle was a girl in a sports bra and Umbros that didn't appear to be much older than me. She stared at me, starting with my head and working her way down to my penny loafered feet, then said, "School Fight Song."

School Fight Song?!? Who knew the words to that?!

I bowed my head, thinking frantically. I cleared my throat, stalling for time. Then I started clapping and side-stepping (Sweatin to the Oldies style):

Munster Mustangs!
We love you!
You're a horse...and that's pretty cool!
Munster Mustangs!
We love you!
You'll win of course, of course, of course!

(Disclaimer: not the actual lyrics to said fight song.)

It was the third lady's turn to tell me what to do. She looked like an older, tanner version of the middle girl...in the same outfit. "Can you do a back hand spring?" My face must have said it all because she hurriedly went on to say, "How about a flip? Any flips? How about a cartwheel, honey?"

I couldn't do any of these. I thought about offering a somersault....

Fast forward...make sure you are sitting down...because this...THIS...is will be a shock for you, I'm afraid...

I didn't make the cheerleading squad that year.

I know...I'm still confused and writing letters to the school board also.

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