Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

I think it is not enough to dance like no one is watching.  I think we have to dance like no one is laughing.  Because, isn’t that what we’re afraid of?  We’re not afraid someone might see us doing something.  We’re afraid someone might see us doing something and judge us harshly for it.

Growing up, I had always wanted to be a cheerleader, but I never had the nerve to try out.  I’m still fairly certain I would never have made a squad given a) my inability to shout and wave my arms at the same time, much less do backflips and leap from the tops of pyramids, and b) my solidly c-list school standing (and that only because I was in the AP classes with the A and B list kids), but I’ll never know because I didn’t try.  I was afraid of being laughed at, so I pretended I thought cheerleading was stupid.  Cheerleaders of the world:  I think you are so awesome and would have given my eye teeth to wear your cute little uniforms.  Dentures are easier to get than onto a cheerleading squad.

In college, I decided I was finished with being afraid of other people’s laughter, and I signed up for cheerleading tryouts.  Now, you  have to remember that my best sport is swimming, and the fact that I am coordinated enough to do that is surprising.  I filled out the application form, i.e. lied through my teeth, saying I’d had plenty of cheerleading experience (you needed 4 years in order to try out) and might have even forged myself a letter of recommendation.  She’s got spirit, yes she do!

Clearly, you need more than spirit.  I did not make the squad, which is a gross understatement. 4 squad positions were open, with 1 alternate position.  5 girls tried out.  They eliminated the alternate position because I was so bad they couldn’t even let me sit sideline.  But I walked away incredibly proud of myself for trying, and am still glad to have had the experience.  Although, in retrospect I feel like I owe all those people an apology.  At least I helped them find the flaws  in their application process.

I’m fairly bold when it comes to new experiences, but I shy away from things that could be very embarrassing.  Things like singing the National Anthem as a solo.  I’ve always, always, always wanted to be the person singing the anthem before a ball game, but have never had the guts to try out.  That’s a hard song to sing, and I’m not Whitney Houston.  The potential for embarrassment with that one is exponential.

Yesterday, I saw that Lone Star Park was auditioning for National Anthem singers for the 2012 Thoroughbred Season.  I called them.  I asked for an audition.  I went out and sang like no one was laughing.

I’ll know in 3 or 4 weeks whether or not I was good enough to perform at one of the 50-some-odd races this season.  I already know I was representing the land of the free and the home of the brave, just getting my tuckus out there in front of a crowd of strangers, with a half second delay on the audio (I kept slowing down to let the nice lady finish the line she had just sung…ha!) and hands shaking so badly I thought I might lose a ring.

So that’s one off my bucket list, and something I can tell the grandkids.

(Y’all, I think I sounded pretty good.  At least, the delay sounded good to me.)

4 thoughts on “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave”

  1. Last night, I mentally revisited my own cheerleading tryout experiment in 8th grade. I don’t know what I was thinking, I seriously cannot believe that I did it, and I am fairly certain that it’s the reason I never tried out for anything ever again. But man, I am so proud I tried!

    You seriously are an inspiration – I expect to see you singing the national anthem at LSP soon.

    p.s. I always thought you were the smartest, wittiest, most creative person in the school. Why is growing up so hard??

  2. Good for you, woman! I’m proud of you for even calling let alone singing.

    I had the opposite cheerleading experience. I thought they were all idiots and that the entire thing was stupid but my friend Tricia didn’t want to go to tryouts by herself and begged me to go with her. She was a spazz and to this day can’t walk and chew gum without faceplanting so I seriously don’t know WTH she was thinking.

    I played “real sports” like softball, basketball, volleyball and…….had taken 5 years of gymnastics.

    She made me go with her for moral support and begged me to try out too instead of just sitting there with a book until she was done. Being a good friend, I did. Spazzy Tricia got cut day one because I believe those poor women thought she was legitimately going to kill or maim herself attempting even the most rudimentary stuff like clapping. The minute she got cut I was ready to leave but of course it was easy for me and she again begged, pleading that if I was on the squad she could be my plus one and the inroad to the parties with the cute boys.

    I made the squad of course and was on it for all 4 years and even got to be co-captain junior and senior year. I learned you had to be in great physical shape, be willing to devote 30 hours a week of grueling practice plus game times. I learned about gritting my teeth and smiling through pain. Almost 30 years later, every time my knees and right ankle hurt on a gray, drizzly cold day, I call Tricia or send a bitchy text along the lines of “I hurt and it’s all your fault!”

    That said, to this day my greatest post cheerleading skill is the ability to yell very loudly without going up in octave and getting screechy as is the female tendency. This ability to bellow with perfect enunciation is a direct result of being Lady Cardinal! That, and knowing I will be an old, incontinent and dementia addled lady but still be able to spell P S Y C H E D. lol

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