Cheer Up, Fatty 

Title: CHEERLEADING!

Authors: Pauline Finberg and Peter Filichia

Publisher: Scholastic

Date: 1983

Discovered at: Used book store in Winnipeg, Manitoba

The cover promises: Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction, takes on many forms.

Representative quote: “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)


So there you are, a good kid, jist whooshing that the day you made the squad were a-comin' right soon. To prep yourself for tryouts, you pick up Finberg and Filchia's CHEERLEADING! at the book fair.

Right away, you can tell they know what they're talking about because, bam, in Chapter 1, in a list titled "Ten Prerequisites for a Good Cheerleader," they call you out twice.

Just look at No. 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, then sublimate your disdain for those who can't do the same.

Finberg and Filichia also have your number when it comes to your Doritos-and-Payday habit.

"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. What matters is your spirit, not what you look like!

But then they go on.

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

Still have questions? Finberg and Filichia have answers!

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."

Playing devil's advocate here — is there any possibility that people not liking us may have something to do with our expectation that they're jealous?

[Silence.]

Right. OK, then, can 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."

[Silence.]

Highlight

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."

So let's give a hooray for cheerleading. It's not just an attempt to bolster school spirit through simple rhymes and teasing glimpses of panties. No, it's a full-fledged system of self-improvement based on disguising who you truly are. Go, you!

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