Strolling the streets of New Haven, amidst the centuries-old buildings and towers at one of the most prestigious learning institutions in the world, I can only wonder one thing: “Where are all the fine ladies?”
I mean, practically every Sunday morning in the waffle line at brunch I overhear little snippets of conversations, usually containing one or more of the following terms: “tube top,” “body shots,” “Sigma Nu” and once in a while the phrase “stuck to the ceiling.” Am I living the life of a monk (albeit a really cool monk who’s good at karaoke)? Maybe I just don’t remember all the fine-looking women I met this weekend. Hmm — that’s probably not it. My weekend may have been a blur of bitch drinks and ABBA songs, but I think I’d remember a bra wrapped around my bedpost. I can’t take it anymore! The sexual frustration is out of control!
I may have to re-enact that really badass scene from The Matrix, because, let’s be honest people, it’s a totally awesome display of masculine bravado, guns and designer sunglasses — plus I already have the boots. This was my plan but after discovering that it takes several days to get a gun in Connecticut (back home they’re passed out like party favors, along with Creationism), I decided to do what any sane, heterosexual male would do to meet women.
I tried out for the cheerleading squad.
Now now, I know what you’re thinking. The cheerleading squad may seem like a Yale-endorsed and legally sanctioned gropefest, but in reality it’s more like a fascist forced labor camp, only without those sharp black shirts. Believe me, people, you definitely should be wary.
Any time you see that many sweater vests in one place, something sinister is in the works. From the extensive research that I have done (I watched “Bring It On,” which is more of a cinematic experience than a movie, a 90-minute tantric orgasm on screen, if you will) I have learned that cheerleading is more than just a poignant allegory for life — it’s a way of life. Of course I knew that everyone and their freaking mother would want to be a part of something so amazing (maybe I’m thinking of Skull and Bones), but tryouts for the squad this year were especially cutthroat.
“Thank you both for coming! This is our biggest turnout in years!”
At first I was apprehensive of all these girls whose veins were full of spunkiness and methamphetamines. I felt like it was almost too easy. All I had to do was show up and they were already in sports bras and spankies! I mean, seriously, where is the thrill of the hunt? After several hours of watching pretty girls jump up and down, will I feel unfulfilled? Shouldn’t I be out searching for someone to really connect with on an emotional level (maybe I should try Toad’s)? Have I gone insane? This is the culmination of my Yale career! I’m surrounded by hot chicks!
Today, Bradley Bailey, you are a rock star! These girls would never give you the time of day anywhere else, and even now you are wearing spandex to get them to do it, but you are a rock star!
After awakening from this completely self-deluded daydream of being a kind of spandex-clad Ziggy Stardust, my tryouts began. I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do, but I figured that since regular cheerleading is 1 percent dance and 99 percent cleavage, Ivy League cheerleading must be 1 percent dance and 99 percent comparative American literature! Forty-five minutes into my interpretive dance, re-enacting William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” (which works really well with a Jock Jams accompaniment) I was told that the squad had seen enough.
“Okay, Bradley, we really don’t know where this is going, but I think that’s sufficient.”
“But, I haven’t even gotten to the part about the ‘silent halls of death’ and this interruption is really corrupting the narrative voice I had going!”
“What? Narrative voice? I don’t speak German. Besides, it’s time to try a pyramid.”
It was at this point in my fledgling “cheereer” (thank you, Kirsten Dunst) that I learned cheerleading’s most guarded secret. Teasing your bangs up to hide your lobotomy scars? No no, my all-too-eager friends, the answer is attitude, and lots of it. I found that speaking with cheerleaders is like communicating with Koko the gorilla, only they don’t have to be rewarded with slices of banana. It’s aggressive, primal and you need hand signals — more specifically, a carefully executed series of snaps.
Unlike with that hairy silverback, however, you don’t have to stick to any specific alphabet. The key is to improvise. Possible snaps include, but are more certainly not limited to, the “around the world and back” snap, the old school “three snaps up in a Z formation,” and of course, my snap du jour, the “screw you, my shoes are more expensive and you’re really not that thin” snap (this one takes practice and quite a good deal of stretching; consider yourself warned). I stumbled onto this socioanthropological breakthrough while being instructed to hoist some girl above my head. It’s like all of my dealings with cheerleaders (at least in my imagination):
“I think I’d prefer to be on top.”
“What? You want her to lift you? Are you insane? She couldn’t possibly lift you! It would take at least three of us to do that!”
“Three cheerleaders at once? Grrr!”
“Why are you even here? Are you some kind of freak?”
“This isn’t a tryout! This is a junta! Cheerleading is my life, the rest is just details! (snap snap snap)!”
A quick note about that last phrase: I find those T-shirts to be a kind of fallacy. In my overly educated opinion, to embody the true essence of cheerleading, it should read “Cheerleading is life — The breasts are just details!”
Eventually I was informed that if I did manage to make the squad, I would have to come to every practice and work out with the team, which frankly, didn’t fit my jarringly masculine schedule of grunting, tossing around the ol’ pigskin and using power tools, all while wearing flannel.
I mean, really, working out? What is this, some kind of sport? As it turns out, that is kind of what it is. I had been hoping for a singles bar full of pleated skirts and home perms, and I got a sports team?
That shoe-sock combination really doesn’t suit me anyway. I guess I will just have to find a better place to meet some foxy ladies.