When I was in eighth grade, I tried out for a spot on the drill team. For those unfamiliar with that, it’s the group that dances alongside the marching band, and we were separate from the cheerleaders. Think the Rockettes, but awkward.
The reason I tried out was because of those girls, you know the ones—pretty, popular, teacher favorites—laughed at me when I showed up for the informational meeting. They said I wasn’t right for it and didn’t belong. It made me more determined to learn the routines and become a little more fit so I could do them. I was flexible as much as a 14-year-old could be, but at home, I practiced and stretched and showed up for the rehearsals and tryouts. Only a couple of decent girls would not act like I was poison in the line when we had to link our arms. I passed tryouts because I could do the routine.
My dad, who owned his own business doing car repair, wasn’t rich, but he managed to pay for my camp fees and uniforms. He dropped me off each morning of summer camp on his way to work. There we learned the routines we would be performing at pep rallies and football games. We had to stand out in the sweltering Louisiana heat and humidity in August and stand in position for minutes at a time. Any move and you had to do kicks. This was a version of pushups or having to run laps where you stood and did sets of 25 high kicks for each infraction. I ended up with blisters on my upper arms from the sun.
Oh, let me tell you about the sponsor (the teacher in charge). She was the epitome of cranky old woman who had an only child who went through these dance teams and did private dance lessons. She was perfect to her mom. At the time Dance Moms wasn’t a thing, but that’s exactly like how she was. She would berate me for the smallest things and basically bully me along with the other girls. For example: when I was feeling faint for having to do kicks for the third time that day, I was sitting down beside another girl who had pulled a hamstring. She is sitting with us while watching her daughter (who was our choreographer of course), commenting how wonderful she was, and said to me to get back out there; she could understand why the other girl was sitting, she was an “athlete” so she got a pass. (She played basketball as well). She would yell at me from across the gym to suck in my stomach. She told me I was rude when I was eating lunch with everyone else and laughing at something someone said and coughed on my sandwich. The other girls would say things to me also, and it was as though she encouraged it. Not only is junior high bad enough, but this on top of it was bad. I tried to be strong and show them I could do it but it made me cry as soon as I got home. This time was different than it is now. Our student newspaper would put out a who’s who based on physical traits like best hair and Best Smile. Way to shoot down vulnerable self-conscious kids!
The night of our first game performance, I was waiting to be picked up with a few others and the sponsor. She went to the bathroom and came back with one girl who was caught smoking in the bathroom with some high school kids. Her punishment was she had to sit out the next game. My dad was running late (he had to work and couldn’t just leave his shop unattended) and after about 30 minutes she told me, “you know this means you’re off the team.”
My dad pulled up a few minutes later, and as soon as I got in his truck, I was sobbing. I told him what happened and he said “just a minute, I’ll be right back” and proceeded to rip that woman a new one about her attitude towards me.
So the revenge: years later, this woman brings her car to my dads shop for repair. He remembers her, but she doesn’t remember him. She was just as condescending as she had ever been, treating him like a lowly servant under her because he did manual labor. He was writing her estimate for the insurance, and she kept trying to get him to add in stuff that wasn’t caused by the accident she was there for. Things like a ding on the back bumper when the damage was in the front, etc. He wouldn’t do it, and she got all huffy and said something like if he didn’t, she would have his license revoked.
Now since my dad had his shop broken into and tools stolen he had installed cameras. He sent that video to the insurance adjuster (one he had a long good relationship within his course of business), and she got hit with attempting insurance fraud charges. I don’t know the exact extent of it, but she should be glad her threats to his livelihood weren’t added on there.
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