Little league basketball season is now upon us. In addition to the monetary dues payable to the league, parents must also pay their dues working a shift in the concession stand. Sounds easy enough, right? Afterall, I spent a fair share of my working life slinging hash at dining establishments such as MCL Cafeteria, the McCutcheon Hall Cafeteria, a local Country Club and a revival movie theater. Well, think again.
Let’s just say that a few of those food service gigs didn’t end so favorably. Like the time I ripped the salt shaker out of some kid’s hand when he got a little overzealous seasoning his popcorn. Or, the time I dropped a steak knife loaded with butter and sour cream on a country club member’s back and his wife looked on in horror as I attempted to scrub the stain off his shirt. But hey, this time I’m a volunteer and it’s only a two-hour shift. What could possibly go wrong?
The league presents a concessions menu of events from wrestling matches to volleyball. I chose a cheerleading competition, fondly remembering the time I tried out for cheerleading in the 6th grade. Unfortunately, my quivering voice coupled with a less than impressive round-off and half-split did not wow the judges. My daughter and husband would also enjoy watching the girls. Besides, cheerleaders probably eat like birds so the concession stand wouldn’t be that busy. I was in for a shock. Turns out, it was a competitive cheerleading competition.
This was my first experience viewing competitive cheerleading. The gym sounded like a dance club with the likes of Enrique Iglesias, Miley Cyrus and Big Time Rush. There were hundreds of girls with perfectly slicked back pony tails, big hair bows and bedazzled eye make-up. I pushed my way through the crowd to the concession area. There were five ladies hurriedly working the stand. Turns out, the event was a late addition to the schedule and they were short 12 volunteers. After I signed in, they pointed me towards the nacho station and started firing orders my way. The line was continually half way around the gym.
As I worked the nacho cheese and chili meat machines, all I could think about was Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and how he would be aghast at the unhealthy snack choices. We could not keep up with the dozens of orders for soft pretzels with cheese, Powerade, nachos with cheese and the popular “walking taco” – a bag of Fritos drenched in faux chili meat and nacho cheese. I could feel my arteries clogging by osmosis just handling the snacks. I went through about 20 pairs of food handlers gloves out of fear of giving someone food poisoning. My hair flying everywhere didn’t seem to matter as much. I had just washed it and I wasn’t going to be caught dead in a hair net.
After preparing 100 nachos, and running completely out of pretzels, I had transformed into a sweaty food service worker with a layer of nacho cheese on my eye glasses. Over the loud music I heard a voice say, “I’ll take a Monster.” I thought, dear God, don’t tell me there’s a mack daddy snack that is a combo of a hot dog, nachos, walking taco and a pretzel. Someone added, “I didn’t think cheerleaders ate like this!” Whatever happened to enjoying a Tab and an apple? Turns out a Monster is an energy drink. At the end of my two-hour shift, I was outta there before you could say, “Ready, Okay”.
Now, it was time to enjoy the show. After watching a few of the groups perform, I knew why they had such huge appetites. It was amazing to watch 30 girls do backwards aerial flips simultaneously. Not to mention the difficult lifts and dance moves. One team came complete with their own version of RuPaul. Dressed in tight jeans and Uggs, he made sure everyone was drapped in glitter spray prior to each performance. He was dancing on his knees and directing every move with several parents following along. My daughter sat and watched in awe. I can’t say the same for my husband. I think the club music, the bling and overwhelming number of X chromosomes in the gym were a little too much for him.
As for me, I couldn’t get enough. I was secretly hoping my daughter would want to join in. I could see myself on the floor with Ru, holding my bling spray and knee dancing to Enrique reliving my 6th grade fantasy of wanting to be a cheerleader. Too soon, it was time to go home. The Vikings game was on and even my daughter grew tired of the fanfare. Besides, I needed to clean the cheese off my glasses and I had a hankering for a Tab. Yeah, Rah, Nachos!