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Do that boogie woogie

Barry Smith

Here’s how the cheer goes:The cheerleaders say, enthusiastically, &quotWe gonna do that boogiewoogie!&quotThe crowd answers, &quotYeah, man.&quotThe cheerleaders repeat, &quotWe gonna do that boogie woogie!&quotThe crowd, now getting the hang of it, responds, &quotYeah, man.&quotPredictably, the cheerleaders let loose with one more &quotWe gonna do that boogie woogie!&quotFollowing the final &quotYeah, man,&quot the cheerleaders then chant, &quotAnd THEN we’re going home … and THEN we’re going home …&quot and the whole thing slowly fades.This was a cheer designed for away games, of course, and it was always a crowd-pleaser, as well as a personal favorite. It was as close to a Ray Charles call-and-response moment as one could hope for at a junior high assembly.Before I came to realize that the sporting life was not the one for me,I did a little stint as a junior high basketball benchwarmer. In fact, I can remember the very moment when I discovered that the sporting life was not the one for me. It had a lot to do with that cheer I just taught you, so try to keep it in mind as you read on.The details of this particular away game are not important, which isgood, as I have repressed them pretty effectively. What I do remember was that our team, the Greenville Christian School &quotSaints,&quot had won the game, and we were feeling pretty good about it, even those of us who were just there to participate in the pre-game warm-up activities.We were all in the locker room, and the mood was seriously elevated, a bunch of 12-15-year-old guys feeling pretty manly. We were huddled loosely, having just come off the court, and there were high-fives flying and all that sports stuff going on. I think we must have soundly defeated some long-standing rival, but like I said, I don’t remember all the details.However, I vividly remember what happened next. The excitement was building, and I could suddenly see an opening to contribute. I was useless as a basketball player, but perhaps my keen eye for detail and my already well-developed insights into human behavior could be put to use at this moment. Yes, what was clearly needed at that festive moment was for someone to initiate the &quotBoogie Woogie&quot cheer, and I was the guy to do it.When this thought hit me, I immediately played the scene out in mymind. I would seize the energy and yell: &quotWe gonna do that boogie woogie!&quot and everyone would respond appropriately. I’d do the line again and everyone would respond even more appropriately. When we got to the &quotAnd then we’re going home&quot part, everyone would do it in unison, building it to a satisfying crescendo upon the realization that we were, in fact, going home (having done that boogie woogie.)Yeah, this would be great. I was usually pretty quiet, lingering in theperimeter, but after this my teammates would have newfound respect for me. I didn’t necessarily EXPECT to be hoisted onto their shoulders for my cheerleading prowess, but I was willing to go with it.Ahem …&quotWE GONNA DO THAT BOOGIE WOOGIE!&quot I yelled.The resulting silence was as immediate as if a gun had just been fired.Silence.Everyone stopped their enthusiastic babble and turned to look at me, and not happily. It was as if the group had suddenly and collectively wondered what the hell I was still doing there, and the message was obvious on their bewildered, staring faces.Silence.Where do you go from there? Sure, I suppose I could have just gone on with the &quotYeah, man&quot part, in hopes that they would have eventually joined in. But it was pretty obvious that more guidance from me was not what was called for.The emotional scars are still there. I have grieved, and forgiven, andprocessed, but I still feel that hurt. That was a defining moment in my development, and I often wonder who I would be now if that moment had turned out as planned.Would I be more expressive? Would I love sports? Would I be able tohigh-five without discomfort? Would I be perky?And most important the question that has haunted me ever day since would I be able to do that boogie woogie?Aspen-based writer Barry Smith moves his lips while writing this column, and hopes you do the same while reading it. E-mail him at barry@irrelativity.com or visit his Web page at http://www.Irrelativity.com.


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