It strikes me as odd but then again, this is Florida. Guys walking out of one set of doors with their newly purchased rifles and boxes of ammo, and squads of high school cheerleaders skipping past the gun show into the adjacent building for the Universal Cheerleading Association Regional Championship. Weird, right?
OK, where’s my daughter? I’ve lost her in a sea of glittery hair bows and lipsticked teenage faces. Oh, there she is, with her team in a corner of the room. Competition is underway and the applause and yelling and of course cheering is deafening.
I tap Lucy’s arm and make eye contact to let her know I’m close by.
“Go away, go away,” are her exact words.
“I just wanted to say hi.”
“OK, hi. Go away,” she says again, like I didn’t get it the first time. I now fully realize how a gray-haired, 53-year-old dad can cramp a daughter’s style.
Now my stomach is growling. At least I think it is. I can’t actually hear it but I feel it. Luckily lots of snack options here, popcorn and hotdogs and nachos and Cuban sandwiches. Did I mention this is Florida? I roll the dice on a Cuban and have to say, it’s delicious.
There must be 5,000 people in this room at the state fairgrounds in Tampa. It’s like a big warehouse with bleachers. So full there’s no place left to sit and hardly any place to stand, especially when it comes time for the awards ceremony. Anticipation builds. “Crazy Train” blares. I do love Ozzy. Then it’s “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. Man, the juxtapositions are killing me!
Honors are bestowed. Dang, those trophies are huge! Announcements are made followed by screaming so loud my ears ache. My daughter’s team, Olympia High School junior varsity, takes sixth in their division and advances to Nationals.
What is it that cheerleaders have? Not sparkle. I mean they do have that. Spirit, that’s it! Never in my life have I seen so much spirit in one place, not to mention laughter and smiles and proud parents.
On the drive home, the one who was quick to flick me like a flea around her friends warms up when I suggest hitting the Chick-Fil-A drive through. “Thanks for coming to my competition, dad,” she says. “I’m glad you were there.”
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