- THE CHEERLEADER
- HENRIETTA SNOW
- THE HUSBAND BENCH
- A BORN MANIAC
- A GUNTHWAITE GIRL
- SITE FIDELITY
- LAZY BEDS
Ruth Doan MacDougall
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The book that started it all!
THE DANCE HAD begun. The gym was darkened now, and sawdust-wax had been sprinkled on the floor, but the smell of hot sweat from the basketball game still lingered. Down the darkness echoed record-player music.
Henrietta Snow, known as Snowy, stood with another of the JV cheerleaders in the doorway. She was fifteen years old. She wore dungarees and her white cheerleading blouse, its collar turned up and its starch softened, and she wore her long dark-blond hair brushed into a ponytail that looked like an upside-down question mark. She said, "How disgusting!"
But Jean Pond, who was known as Puddles and also known for saying out loud what everyone else was thinking, said, "Maybe we should've been bawling in there, too. Maybe it's our last game, too."
Snowy felt sharply sick. "Shut up," she said. "Please shut up." She glanced at her left hand, where today's date had been stamped by the boy at the desk outside the gym. March 4, the stamp said clearly. Soon it would begin to smudge. March 4, 1955.
The JV cheerleaders had changed out of their uniforms during the Varsity game. They couldn't take showers; the visiting basketball team was using the girls' locker room, and they changed in the girls' gym office and clogged their sweat with Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder. So they had no real excuse for being in the gym office again after the Varsity game, but sensing drama, they all had wandered back. They were rewarded. The last basketball game of the year, and the Varsity cheerleaders were weeping, hugging each other, sobbing. There were six seniors on the Varsity squad; they wept for the end of glory. And the two juniors, who would be Varsity cheerleaders again next year and probably co-captains, wept partly for the end of this squad but mostly because they were expected to. The JV's sympathized, and the JV captain, a senior, burst into tears, and so did the twin who was very emotional. The gym office was a little room jammed with megaphones, lockers, the gym teachers' desks, square-dancing records, basketballs, volleyballs, and a bulletin board of game schedules, clippings, and jokes. A full-length mirror reflected the clinging group of girls, the Varsity in short green jumpers, the JV's in their dungarees and white blouses, Snowy standing wide-eyed watching.
Now in the gym the record player sang,
"Earth angel, earth angel,
Will you be mine?
My darling dear,
Love you all the time."
"Well," Snowy said, and she and Puddles strolled casually over to the bleachers, but they didn't sit down because this would make them seem too obviously waiting for somebody to ask them to dance. They stood half-turned from the dance floor, as if they didn't care, as if they were on the brink of dashing off to something far more exciting. There was, however, nothing in their world more exciting than this.
The gym, in the basement of the main school building, was a sunken place, deeper than the basement classrooms surrounding it on three sides. The indoor windows high above were observation posts where kids out in the corridor would lean to watch gym classes or cheerleaders practicing or games or dances. A deep dark-brown sunken place.
But to Snowy, it was where love might find her.
© 1974, 1999, 2011 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved .
A sequel to THE CHEERLEADER
SO HERE SHE was, on Wednesday, October 9, 1957, about to strip off her Pig-Pen costume consisting of dried-muddy sweatshirt and Levi’s, in a bathroom in a sleazy motel across the Vermont line in New York with a little party going on outside the bathroom door whose lock didn’t work, her roommate and her roommate’s date and her own impromptu date lolling around watching loud TV and imbibing rum-and-Cokes out of paper cups. Henrietta Snow, known as Snowy, had definitely not expected to find herself in such a situation when she’d been accepted at Bennington College last spring. A scholarship student, too!
Someone tapped on the door. She froze, head inside the filthy blue Bennington sweatshirt. "Who is it?"
"Me,"said her roommate, Harriet Blumburg. "Okay to come in?"
Dennis, Harriet’s date, shouted, "Hey, Snowy, want us to help scrub your back?"
Harriet opened the door just wide enough to dart in and slammed it behind her. "Shit, the lock’s broken."
From the interior of the sweatshirt, a muffled wail: "You promised you’d keep them at bay!"
"I will, I will," Harriet said, "but I need some Dutch courage," and she grabbed Snowy’s rum-and-Coke off the cracked toilet tank and took a deep swig.
"Huh?" As Snowy tugged her sweatshirt up over her dark blond hair pinned up frowzily to approximate Pig-Pen’s and plastered with mud like a bird’s nest, chunks of dirt pattered down on the scuffed linoleum. Her emerging face had been slathered with a facial of real mud, now also dried and crumbling. "You’ve already got a drink, has Dennis run out of refills."
"There’s a slight problem I haven’t mentioned, I have trouble drinking or eating anything in front of a guy."
"Really?" Snowy said, amazed
Harriet began laughing. "God, you’re a mess—you, of all people."
Small and cute, with a heart-shaped face and turned-up nose, Snowy had been frantically trying to change her squeaky-clean look ever since she’d arrived at Bennington a month ago, but she’d realized she hadn’t succeeded when, amid gales of mirth, the girls in her house had decided she would be perfect for the Pig-Pen part in the Peanuts skit. She said, "I tested the shower, it’s hardly a trickle.
Exploring the dank sour room, Harriet picked up the wrapped midget bar of soap. "At least the management changes the towels and soap, be glad you don’t have to use a sliver with someone’s pubic hairs on it."
Snowy retched, a noise she’d learned from her high-school best friend, Bev Colby, and gingerly draped the sweatshirt across the washbasin. "This is crazy, I should be showering at the house."
"Any shampoo samples?"
"Are there usually?"
"Sometimes, but maybe these motels back East—-" - Harriet stared at Snowy, once again stunned by her lack of experience. "You’ve never been in a motel before?"
Harriet, a California sophisticate; Snowy, a New Hampshire hick. Hideously embarrassed, Snowy said, "Nope."
Harriet said quickly, "I’ve just been with my parents, no big deal, I haven’t ever been to a motel with a guy."
"Plural! We’ve got two of them out there!"
"Try anything once, that’s my motto."
© 1993, 2002, 2017by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved
Copyright 1974 - 2020 by Ruth Doan MacDogall
All rights reserved