It’s fairly common knowledge that the typical, high school hierarchy affords jocks and cheerleaders Mt. Olympus magnitude godhood. To be sure, this is a nerd-free zone. And I should know. During my junior high days, I had actually worn a plastic pocket protector to house my pens and pencils. YIKES!
Later on, as a somewhat “cooler” high schooler, one Friday evening, I attended both a varsity football game and the postgame dance. No big surprise, I went to that latter event, STAG. Throughout the next two hours, as the Student Council designated disc jockey kept on spinning the vinyl records (only one turntable) I found myself wondering why I had even bothered showing up.
However, as the 11th hour drew near, I suddenly found myself teeming with this overwhelming, what-do-you-have-to-lose determination.
Between records, while the kids “argued” over which song would be next, I abandoned the shadowy sidelines and approached the still sporting her cheerleader uniform, Nancy. It’s not like we had never met, seeing how we were enrolled in some of the same classes. Our conversing came quite easily / naturally. And then… I asked her…
“Would you like to dance?”
Sans any hesitation, she smiled and said, “Sure.” For all I knew, her accompanying shrug might’ve even been equivalent to her unspoken, “What the hell took you so long?” I could only hope that my stunned feeling had not become a facial expression.
At that very moment, from the overhead speakers, we heard the opening notes of the Youngbloods’ cover version of Get Together. I hadn’t expected to be slow dancing up close but…
Well, it was about mid-tune, that I realized the DJ had cued up the longer album version, which afforded me one extra minute to not only enjoy our dance, but also realize how wrong it was… still is… to prejudge people… to buy into the dehumanizing stereotypes and hierarchies… the type which can only fracture society. Even Jesse Colin Young’s delivery of Get Together’s lyrics was amplifying the unifying sentiments.
Ever since my dance with Nancy, I’d certainly disagree with anyone who’d dare to suggest that proper education only involves teachers and formal classroom settings. I believe I learned far more during that four minute song than I learned during all four years of my high school experience.
Now, at the risk of spoiling the moment, let’s explore another, closely related aspect to my narrative… namely… the practical application of such truths.
There’s a certain… let’s leave him nameless… “world leader” who fancies himself my homeland’s Cheerleader-In-Chief. While I would never dance to any of the ugly ideologies spinning around within his noxious noggin… to a certain extent… I’d still have to agree with him that it’s important to calm citizens who might panic easily.
Of course, unbeknownst to him, being an effective leader involves far more than that.
What a shame he’ll never dance with the metaphorical Prudence. There’s so much her style of cheerleading could teach him. For starters, how it’s wrong to prejudge and buy into dehumanizing hierarchies and stereotypes. Beyond that, he could learn that a cheerleader can only motivate Team America, so much… especially when formidable opponents (such as the pandemic and economic / societal upheaval), are threatening to shellac us / shut out the U.S. on our own, home playing field.
To extend this sports metaphor, further, Prudence would point out that, ultimately, it’s the coach… not the cheerleader… who leads the team to victory.
Stay Safe at Home! Stay Publicly Masked! Stay Healthy!