Everyone Is Just Jealous: Studies in Crap Brings it On With 1983's CHEERLEADING!

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

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CHEERLEADING!

Author: Pauline Finberg & Peter Filichia

Publisher: Scholastic

Date: 1983

Discovered at: Used book store in Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Cover Promises: Kali takes on many forms.

Representative Quotes: "How's your enunciation? If you have a tendency to say 'comin' instead of 'coming,' 'jist' instead of 'just,' and 'whoosh' instead of 'wish,' it's time to get to work at improving your diction." (page 2)

"Do you have average looks? That's right - average. Don't assume that you must be dazzling . . . If you don't believe this, take a look at the squad of cheerleaders in your school. You may find a few knockouts, but there most likely will be some boys and girls who are average kids." (page 3)

So there you are, a good kid, average-looking, jist whooshing that the day you make the squad was a'comin right soon. To prep yourself for the next round of tryouts, you pick up Finberg & Filchia's CHEERLEADING! at the book fair.

Right away, you can tell they know what they're talking about because, bam, chapter one, in the list titled "Ten Prerequisites for a Good Cheerleader," they call you out twice.

"3. Do you care enough about your school? If you think it's a terrible place and not nearly as good as other schools you've heard about, you might not be able to cheer convincingly, no matter how hard you try."

That's dead-on, but you know what to do. Smile and idealize, with a whiff of disdain for those who can't do the same.

[Note: Since the dopey illustrations in CHEERLEADING! do not do their subject justice, your Crap Archivist is mostly substituting images from Las Hormigas Legionarias.]

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Finberg & Filchia also share this:

"If you are heavy and have tried losing weight but are just one of those kids who is going to be big and beautiful no matter what, go ahead and try out for the squad. If you can do the motions, make the jumps, and - most importantly - show the correct spirit, few squads will turn you down."

That makes you feel better. If there's one thing you've learned, it's that there's always a correct spirit, in school and in life, and showing that can make up for anything - even all those weepy midnights when your insecurities collide with Breyer's and Boone's Farm. What matters is your spirit, not what you look like!

But, oh. They add:

"One important note, however: Avoid tight clothes. They'll make you look heavier than you are."

Still, let's give a hooray for cheerleading. It's not just an attempt to bolster school-spirit through nursery-rhymes and an extra layer of panty. It is a full-fledged system of self-improvement based upon disguising who you truly are!

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You have questions? Finberg & Filchia have answers!

What if they don't like you - or the you you pretend to be?

"Needless to say, rejected cheerleaders (just like accepted cheerleaders) often go on to be class presidents, yearbook editors, and drama club stars. Keep telling yourself that Johnny Carson is a rejected cheerleader, too, and it hasn't hurt his career one bit!"

Once I'm on the squad, people will like me, right?

"Cheerleading often makes you unpopular. For one thing, some kids are jealous of cheerleaders."

What about people who think cheerleaders are dumb?

"What you must do, of course, is show them how smart you are. Act intelligently. Make the honor roll. Make the National Honor Society. Try to get into a good college."

So, my academic achievements should be fueled by spite and my belief in keeping up appearances?

"In a way, a cheerleader must be smarter than the average high school student so that people won't think otherwise. 'Why do I have to do anything for these people?' you might (rightfully) ask. 'Who cares what they think? They're just jealous.' While your instincts may be correct, you must keep in mind that some of these adversaries will be people you just may have to deal with. So do your best."

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Playing devil's advocate, here -- is there any possibility that people not liking us has something to do with our expectation that they're jealous of us?

[Silence.]

I didn't think so. Now, should I bother maintaining my useless, pre-cheer friendships?

"It happens. You'll try to spare your other friends the talk about the upcoming game or the post-practice part. Eventually, the other kids will sense that you're holding back and perhaps remove themselves from your life, whether you want them to or not. Do the best you can in holding on to all your friendships, but don't hate yourself if you can't."

Finally, could you give me a piece of advice so obvious that your pointing it out reveals how little you expect from me in terms of basic human decency?

"There are certain game situations which demand total silence. First and foremost, be absolutely quiet when a player is injured, whether the player is on your team or on the opposing team."


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Shocking Detail:

From Chapter 14, "Pep Rallies"

"Recruit teachers to be in pep rally skits. You'll find that the younger male teachers may especially be willing to dress up like cheerleaders and appear in a silly skit for the good of the school."

Highlight:

From the list "Seven Qualities That Will Give You An Edge":

Number 6. "Having a little ham in you."

But I thought I had to be thin! And, shit, cheerleading's restricted?



The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.



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