It should not surprise you to learn that I, a weird awkward adult, was once a weird, awkward kid. I tell people that my personality today is exactly the same as it was when I was ten. I was off-putting on a kid, and now it’s reasonably funny. I grew into myself, I guess.
I preferred to wear skirts and dresses back in the day – this was problematic because in addition to being a weird kid, I was a little heavy. I look at photos now, and I think, well, actually – I don’t look unusual. I see kids out and about who are far bigger now than I ever was.
But yeah, I was a little bigger than “normal” – which made finding clothes a chore – especially in 4th and 5th grade. JC Penney carried a “pretty plus” line for little girls – the boys were “husky”. But it was limited, and my style choices were questionable. One thing that plagued me is that my parents made me wear saddle oxfords. Yes, the black and white shoes that, out of context, look like I’m on my way to play an extra in a community production of Grease. Tell me more, you say?
|Yeah, they didn't improve my kickball game, either.|
They were good, sturdy shoes and inexpensive. I was hard on shoes. I’m still hard on shoes. They wanted something that didn’t wear down, and softer shoes had the tendency to lack support and fall apart under my plodding. So, saddle oxfords it was. I finally graduated them after 4th grade. I remember, at some point, I had a pair that I really liked that were tan and navy – Bass – but mostly, it was the stiff black and white ones.
In middle and high school, I wore a lot of Keds. White, and any other fun color I could get my hands on. Red. Those were my favorite. Basically, I wore the shoes of early 20th century cheerleaders.
When I was going into 7th grade, my mother enlisted the help of a personal shopper at one of the local department stores to aid me in picking things out. At that point, I was about as skinny as I would ever be, and I was still pretty undeveloped. I picked out this great, fun red sweater that had a cheerleader on the front of it. She was in a cheer pose with her hands in the air. The designer had sewn actual fabric pom-poms (like the crafting kind) in her hands as pom-pom. On the hanger, it was adorable. I loved it. I bought it with babysitting money.
|These cheerleaders are similar to the one on the front of my sweater.|
I wore it once. I had failed to realized that the placement of the cheerleader’s pom poms was directly in the breast region. Some boy on the bus said, “Nice pom poms”, and I was done. It was the only bad purchase of my shopping expedition, and since then, I’ve been a lot more judicious. I never again bought apparel with pom poms attached.
And that, that my friends, is the ham-handed segue into my actual point.
I was not a cheerleader. I can’t turn a cartwheel, I never owned pom-poms. In fact, I never did anything all that “spirit-y”. I wasn’t a student athlete. I briefly, as a favor to my sister, was a runner for her Flag Corps. Meaning, when they dropped their first flag in the half-time show to get a second flag – I ran the length of the field and grabbed the discarded flags. I’m not a fast runner, but I just had to be faster than the marching band.
When I was a sophomore, the drama club, of which I was an active member, made a point to go to games as a group, sit together, wear our t-shirts, and ask the cheerleaders for a pyramid. This was a PR campaign thought up by our advisor. It’s worth noting he later did jail time, but that’s probably another story for another day. I wonder if the cheerleaders found us endearing or annoying. I had a few friends on the squad – I should ask them.
In my Junior and Senior year, my football game schedule was this: Go to the game and hang out with whomever I saw and knew. After halftime, go see my friends in the marching band, because they had the 3rd quarter off. Leave at the end of 3rd quarter. Go to the drive thru at Dairy Queen. Yes, the same Dairy Queen from 8th grade graduation. Get a Peanut Buster Parfait and take it home. Eat it and watch old episodes of Degrassi (the original Jr High and High – none of this next gen garbage), then go to bed. I worked the next day, or sometimes on Sunday, so I needed my beauty sleep.
It was my ritual, and I loved it. It set the stage for rewarding myself with food for being social. I did something similar in college. There was a fraternity we did a lot of socials with, and their house was catty-corner from a Krystal. I made a deal with myself that if I went to the social and stayed for an hour, I could leave and get a couple of Krystals on the way home. I’m an extrovert, absolutely, but I also had, and to an extent still have social anxiety. And I didn’t drink, so…
Anyway. Cheerleading. I promise we’re going to stop meandering and get to the point here.
I find myself, fairly often, being the cheerleader for other people. They need to be encouraged, and I’m there with my megaphone and pom-poms, giving it everything I have. I’ll be the bottom of your pyramid, I’ll scream myself hoarse, I’ll jump up and down.
My problem is – why can’t I root, root, root for the home team (a mixed metaphor, but stick with me)? Why do I have trouble being my own cheerleader?
I don’t have a good answer – that I’m aware of it is a good start, but I need to get onboard with team Allison and become a raving fan.
Saddle oxfords optional. Super, super optional.