In late October 1998, long about the end of Marcus High School’s football season, one of the moms whose son was playing on varsity called me. She explained that the senior moms were putting together a “little” routine to be performed for the boys at the last pep rally. It was to be a short, simple thing with a few dance steps I’d need to learn. “Could you come to a practice session tonight up in the school’s gym?” She asked sweetly. “Sure. Why not? Sounds like fun,” I replied enthusiastically, being quite an expert at the Hokey Pokey and Bunny Hop.
Some of these ladies had been very busy and extremely ingenious. Phone calls had been placed to all the varsity senior moms asking if they wanted to participate. It was amazing to see how many women made the time to be there. One gal had taken the sound track from the movie The Men in Black and rewritten the words to include and describe the Marauders’ football team. Her efforts not only rhymed but flowed. This version had then been dubbed over the original and to it we were to dance. Another mom had choreographed an elaborate routine that included steps to match the words and go with the beat. There were computer print outs of both the song’s words and the moves. I was impressed. I was impressed until I had to learn both.
We had our first rehearsal that night. On the drive home, I remember saying to myself, “You can do this. You can do this. You can do this?” Arriving home, I took 2 Aleve for the headache and muscle spasms and immediately fell into bed. At least five, maybe even six, more nights of rehearsals followed over the next two weeks. It seemed like an awful lot to absorb in such a short amount of time. But, By Marcus, if these other moms could do it…so could I. Besides, this was for our men!
I practiced a bunch. Oh, how I practiced…in my kitchen, living room and even down the hallway at work, all the while humming the tune in my head. (I hum worse than I dance.) I rehearsed the numerous body and hand motions in my sleep on the nights when I could sleep. Those nights would be when I wasn’t too sore or worried about forgetting my lines, so to speak.
The big day of the pep rally arrived! More than 30 moms met at the high school that afternoon in our appointed girl’s locker room. We were clad in black jeans and shoes, dark sunglasses (I know I didn’t want to be recognized) and our sons’ football jersey, which included his number and name. (No chance of anonymity at this point.)
As rehearsed, all moms ran into the gym, on cue, and presented their child with a well-worn toy from his formative years. This was supposed to embarrass the tough football guys. Actually, it was more embarrassing for the moms. (It would be interesting to hear what a psychiatrist would have to say about the thread bare, nasty, remnants of their children’s youth that women save.)
Our jocks were sitting in rows of card chairs under a basketball standard at one far end of the gym. While running toward them, waving these tacky toys from days gone by, the boys had a little surprise for us. Five of them, sitting in front row seats, stood up, one at a time and raised their shirts. On our babies’ (now quite hairy) chests, in big black letters, the words “H I M O M” were spelled out. My son was the O in MOM. Made MY day!
After doling out the dreaded dregs of our darlings’ youth, the moms took their positions at the opposite end of the gym. Being “a short person” I was automatically assigned to the front line. That was bad, but not bad enough. I wound up at the very end of the row and right smack dab in front of the bleachers, cheerleaders and the Marquette’s drill team. What could be more intimidating? Pahleeze.
The music began!…the same music I’d had running around in my head for weeks. Now was the time for all those rehearsals, all that home-schooling in the kitchen to pay off. It was show time! And so my heart began pounding so loud it drowned out the music, the words and my sense of direction. I started on my left foot instead of my right and never found my way back. I remember stopping more than once in a valiant effort to get in sync with the rest of the moms.
The drive home this time had me saying, “You could have done this. You could have done this. You should have done this better.” By now it was too late to fret and stew over my shortcomings. I licked my wounds and decided the best bandage would be comforting words from my son.
“So Brad, how do you think the pep rally went? Remember, these were all just moms trying to do their best.”
And from the mouth of my babe came all the reassurance I’d been yearning for:
“Mom, you were absolutely the worst one out there. You screwed up on purpose, right? Really funny stuff, Mom.”
Then came a BIG HUG and the words,
“THANKS, MOM. I LOVE YOU.”
What better reward than that?
From the February 2010 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette