[It’s Turtle Tuesday]
Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret…I want to be like everyone else.”
From Blume and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
|Bridgy’s new doll, which she named Bridgy, now, no stranger to mud.|
Last week, I found myself fasting several meals, laying prostrate on the floor in a public bathroom and crying in the shower. You know, nothing terribly unusual. Just a normal week for a mother of three trying to make her children’s dreams come true.
I know a few things about dashed dreams. For starters, they really, really suck.
The summer before 6th grade our family moved to Ozark, Arkansas where the school mascot was the hillbilly. Interestingly enough, many of the kids were natural dead ringers. Ha! In the fall, I decided to try out for cheerleader. My friend Deborah, who had red hair and freckles, tried out with me. We wore white shorts and gold T-shirts and my mom made us each a set of purple and white pom poms. She meticulously cut them from crepe paper. They were awesome!
The day of tryouts came and everything went off without a hitch, except the part where I misspelled the word SPIRIT in our chant:
“We’re number O-N-E in S-P-I-R-T, we’re number one in SPIRT!
SPIRT like spurt, over and over and over again. Deborah and I both lost, and I would never be an Ozark Hillbilly cheerleader donning signature purple overalls and a straw hat during dance routines. I’m positive there was more to my defeat than spelling.
Two days later, Tracy, whose hair was as blond as the doll in the above picture, asked me if she could buy my homemade pom poms. She’d been selected as head cheerleader. Her mom called my mom to negotiate the purchase.
This also sucks.
At the end of that year, our family packed up and moved to East Texas, to a town that once embraced nearly 30 Jim Crow laws. During the time I lived there, I was very good friends with a girl named Allese Ghorbani. Her mother was white and her father was Iranian. This was during the Iranian hostage crisis (November 1979 – January 1981) when 52 Americans were taken hostage in Tehran and held for 444 days. Allese and I talked about the crisis every day at lunch. We also talked about eternal security a lot! Odd for a couple of tweens, but we were both from strict Christian families. The debate of John Calvin vs. Charles Wesley was natural for us.
Kids could be so cruel to Allese. She got pushed and kicked around and called names, which is why I thought she was completely crazy when she told me she decided to try out for 8th grade cheerleader. On top of not being the prototype, she’d have to compete against girls who’d already been on the cheer team for two years.
There was also the racism she experienced daily, which was completely compounded by world events. I remember kids on the school bus with pictures of Mickey Mouse displayed inside their zipper notebooks. Mickey was shooting the bird and the caption read, “Up Your Hola Ayatollah.” Allese was treated like a Islamist militant. The boys called her a terrorist.
But, Allese Ghorbani believed in herself and she never let anyone tell her what she could or couldn’t become. And, so the unbelievable happened. She stunned everyone during tryouts. She was absolutely fantastic, and blew everybody away. Not only did she win cheerleader, but she leap-frogged everyone to become head cheereleader.
I was so happy for Allese! Unfortunately, I never got to see her cheer at a game because we moved away that summer. The last time I saw her it was the last day of school, May 1981. We were standing in the pink-tiled bathroom of that junior high. She was wearing lavender painter’s pants and a cream-colored sweater with a ruffled collar. We were 13-years-old.