During your formative years, you probably spent a lot of time trying to figure out your place in the universe. More specifically, the high school universe. With that in mind, my brief “career” as a cheerleader shouldn’t be too surprising. We all have to try different activities before we find something that fits, and it only took me a year to decide that cheerleading was not something I enjoyed. My fear of heights alone created enough problems.
Had I not had the experience, I probably would have wondered if I’d missed out on something. Of course, that’s not the case for everything. There are plenty of things I’ll never experience and never wonder about, like male-pattern baldness. However, at the time, in the high school universe, I had to find it out through trial and error.
As with anything, a number of tasks that must be completed as part of membership in organizations do not make themselves known until you are well into your involvement. Some are universal to the activity, like raising money for camp. Others are specific to your region, state, or school.
At our school, each week before the football games one cheerleader was responsible for making spirited name tags for the football players. Something about the way we did it bugged me, and it didn’t really occur to me to speak up until it was my turn to sit down and painstakingly create the little tags.
Every week, the tags were custom-made to tell the world exactly what we were going to do to our upcoming opponent.
And every week, the tags were wrong.
How, you say?
Well, for reasons that are still unknown to me to this day, the tags–without fail–always said something to this effect:
“Wrangle the Mustangs!”
“Sink the Pirates!”
“Kick the Mules!”
To make matters worse, the tags were in the shape of something that represented the opposing mascot: an anchor or a horseshoe, for example.
Our mascot was a vicious feline completely capable of inflicting its own brand of damage. The way I saw it, we were essentially switching sides. Every week.
I was on the floor tracing tiny tomahawks during practice one afternoon when I stopped and asked the big question.
“Why are we saying we’re going to do the things to them that their mascots are supposed to be doing to us?”
“Well, shouldn’t we be saying that we’ll claw them or mangle them or something? I mean, last week we said we’d sink the pirates. Isn’t it their job to sink us? We have to use our abilities, don’t you think? Cats don’t really like water anyway.”
“You think too much.”