02 August 2010

go, fight, win tonight!

When I was 3, I had two life goals:
  • to be a cheerleader
  • to work at McDonald's
That's it.  I thought that if I could be the girl on top of the pyramid at a Friday night football game—and then spend Saturday morning serving hotcakes at McDonald's—I would have a full, complete, rewarding, no-doubt-about-it-I'm-happy life.

Apparently, my full life involved me never leaving high school.  {Oh, that sounds like purgatory now, 10 years after I graduated.}

The cheerleading part makes sense.  Plenty of little girls want to be cheerleaders.  And princesses.  Maybe princess cheerleaders, although I think the tiara might be a hazard when tumbling.  Also, I bet princesses aren't allowed to show that much leg.

But the working at McDonald's part?  This confuses me to this day.  I mean, I don't even remember liking McDonald's all that much.

From what I remember, we only got to eat there on rare occasions on vacation.  From family lore, I know that I once threw a temper tantrum at a McDonald's.

{Sidenote:  many, way too many, in fact, of my family's stories start with, "Do you remember when Kamiah threw a temper tantrum in [fill in restaurant, store, national park, theater...]?"  I really brought the family together with my screams.}

The McDonald's temper tantrum was because my brother Patrick hadn't cut my hotcakes in the appropriate grid pattern.

I'm pretty sure this was while we were on our trip out to the 1984 Olympics in LA {Mom?  Dad?  Is that right?}:  we were like the Joad family travelling west, this ragtag group of six Walkers.  My sister was 4; I was 2.  My brothers were teenagers, and halfway to California, I think my mother wanted to jump ship.

And by ship I mean 1950-something Mercedes-Benz with no air conditioning and those vinyl seats the back of your legs stick to.

I'm sure my temper tantrum over Patrick not following my very particular demands for order {even at the age of 2!} didn't help my mother embrace this quintessential American road trip.  I'm sure it didn't comfort her to think, "Oh, but we'll have such stories to tell later."

But stories we do have.

About how we camped in someone's backyard in Hollywood because do you really think a family of six from Iowa could afford to stay in LA during the Olympics?  Actually, can a family of six ever afford to stay in LA?

And how we saw President Reagan's motorcade on the highway in California.  Wait, I just had a moment of panic.  Keep in mind that I was 2 when all this happened, so I'm relying on my familial memory.  It was him, right?  Or was it the vice president?

And how by the end of the trip, the boys had to push the Mercedes to get it going.  I bet my mom helped, too.  I probably sat in the car and screamed.

And how my sister made the boys read the children's version of The Hobbit to her over and over.  She did love that Gandalf. 

McDonald's was one of the official sponsors of the 1984 Olympics, so maybe my strong desire at age 3 to work there had something to do with my Olympic experience.

I was in love with Mary Lou Retton {you know, the gymnast who won the gold.  Can't you just see that perfect vault right now?  How she stuck it?  How she smiled?  What, you can't?  Ok, full confession:  we had a recording of the gymnastic final, and I used to watch it...well, let's just say "frequently."  I would ricochet around the TV room, doing round-offs and somersaults, as she did double back tucks and Yurchenko vaults.  And at the end, I'd give a big smile, just like her, and jump up and down, just like she did.  The only thing I was missing was the gold medal.}

So I was in love with Mary Lou, and maybe I thought that if I worked at McDonald's, I'd get to meet her.  Who knows how the mind of a 3-year-old works.

Actually, who knows how the mind of a 28-year-old works.  I started this piece wanting to write about cheerleading because I heard a story on NPR about how a judge recently decided it's no longer a sport.  I really just wanted to talk about that.

And about how I had a shirt in high school {when I was a cheerleader, you know.  Or maybe you didn't know, but I bet you weren't surprised by this new fact} that said:  If you don't think cheerleaders are athletes, then you've really missed the game.

That's what I started off wanting to say but here I am telling you about The Hobbit and cutting pancakes and perfect vaults in 1984.

So, just to wrap it up, you should read the NPR cheerleading story.  That is all I wanted to say.  Oh, and go get 'em, Grayhounds.

{Even 10 years after my last toe touch and fight song dance, the cheerleader in me will not fade.  My desire to work at McDonald's has faded, though.}


  1. It was on the trip to the Olympics & it was Reagan. We went to McDonald's so much because the medals won by the US got us free food. Always a good thing when traveling with kids for a month.

  2. To Kamiah's friends who do not believe this story (and part of it): I assure you this all really happened. I was there!

  3. I SURE am glad that one of your goals was to be a Cheerleader! It gave me an opportunity to meet a truly fantastic person! Sorry the whole McDonald's thing didn't work out! :) Oh...and I REALLY can't imagine you EVER throwing a temper tantrum!



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