ON THE FLIGHT from Phoenix to San Jose, a young slender girl with straight long brown hair, sandals and tattered jeans, sits across the aisle from me, next to her younger sister and her mother.
The girl reads a little from a paperback book, she plays games on her iPhone, and sleeps some. But mainly she practices cheerleader routines, with her arms, hands and toes.
She mouths the words with her thin lips. Although she makes no sound, her limbs and the choreography she imposes upon them insist that I pay attention as they flitter and jab and slice the airspace in front of her, like sleek jet fighters engaged in a dogfight.
They demand that I divert my focus from the book of poetry I’m holding in front of me.
I wonder what is going through that teen-age mind.
My first thought is that she was doing it for her sister, but the younger girl soon dozes off and the cheerleader still performed her routines.
Is she really that in love with her role as rah-rah girl? Are those routines so memorable that they refuse to leave her mind? Or is she simply showing off, wanting to let the world (or those of use sharing this cramped space) know that she is special?
I SUDDENLY FOUND myself, not in the crowded metal tube soaring above the West, but in the backyard of our old house in Crystal City. I was alone, and I had a broom in my hand.
Or a long-handled hoe.
Or a rake.
I was balancing that upright tool on the tip of the middle finger of my right hand, trying to see how long I could keep that thing pointing toward the sky. And as I did that, I imagined myself surrounded by hundreds, thousands of adoring fans, all marveling at my dexterity, all riotously applauding my great talent. And I could hear the roar of the crowd getting stronger as second after second went by without my dropping the broom/hoe/rake – until, at last, I proved I was human and let it fall to the ground.
My reign as a Boy of Status had ended, but still the crowd showed its enthusiasm and I was forced to acknowledge their admiration with a slight nod.
AND I THINK, maybe that’s what’s going through this girl’s head. Maybe she sees herself as a Girl of Status, the object of great adoration by huge crowds as she performs her cheerleading routines.
And so I say to myself, why not? Why the hell not?