Here's the deal. We're still leery about telling personal stories. Our life is retarded. But Three O'Clock Chicken (wherein we bared our soul over our profoundly humiliating experience as a tap-dancing Gumby) was such a hit, we thought we'd give it another whirl.
In high school, we were not exactly president of the student council. We were tall, thin, geeky, and enjoyed numerous indignities on a daily basis. Getting sucker-punched in the halls, being involuntarily deposited in dumpsters, every day was a fresh gauntlet of shame (but we discovered weights in our twenties and could whup any of our tormentors today). However, we did hang with some exceedingly cool (though definitely odd-ball) kids. Our peers were listening to Supertramp, while on our island of misfit toys we were into the Flying Lizards and Madness and the Dead Kennedys and the Angry Samoans. There were safety pins and skinny ties involved. We know.
At any rate, when in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, sometimes it sounds like a good idea to pull a little prank. Twenty-five years later, we're still in awe of the sheer grandeur and spectacle of it. Let us set the scene. Two words: pep rally. Those surreal exercises in mass retardation. The perfect venue for our diabolical act of guerrilla performance art.
We had removed the noggin of a hollow baby doll, filled its carcass with karo syrup and red food coloring (the pig blood recipe from Carrie, as rumor had it), and replaced its head. We dressed it as a pom-pom girl. We crouched behind the bleachers and waited. Cut to the floor of the gymnasium. The cheerleaders had just introduced the varsity football team by shouting at us in unison while doing the splits. The football team was paraded about like Clearasil gladiators and seated in the front row. Then out came the pom-pom girls. Zero hour had arrived.
Let us take a moment to ponder pom-pom girls. What is their function? What bizarre alchemy is conjured by synchronized pom-pom-ing, the nonsensical semaphore that always translates into "my boobs weren't big enough for the cheerleading squad?" Later in life, has a woman ever drawn on pom-pom skills to get herself out of a pickle? We're bothered by their namesake props, those ungainly poofs of rustling shredded plastic. Who invented the pom-pom? Was it a pom-pom girl? What on earth were pom-pom girls doing with their time before the invention of the pom-pom? Or if the pom-pom was invented before anyone thought of becoming a pom-pom girl, what exactly were pom-poms used for prior to that dark day some bimbo decided if she shook them about we might win a football game? Is it voo-doo? It bothers us. Back to our story.
After an eternity of shaking to the left, shaking to the right, banging the pom-poms together under high-kicking thighs, the pom-pom girls dropped their pom-poms and began erecting a three-story human pyramid. Three sturdy-legged future truck drivers and PE teachers took their wide stance as two medium-sized pom-pom-ers hopped on their shoulders. The petite-est pom-pom-er then scaled mount pom-pom and reached the summit with a frozen smile masking her terror (we'll call her "Kimmy"). The remaining pom-pom-ers dropped into the splits and threw their arms into exuberant Evita-on-the-balcony "vees." That was our cue.
We remember the following in slow motion: in an unrehearsed but remarkably accurate hook-shot, we launched the blood-filled baby, which sailed majestically over the bleachers. Kimmy's Pepsodent smile faltered as, out of reflex, she caught the projectile infant as if she was a wide receiver catching a hail mary in the end-zone. Fake blood erupted like a macabre rose blooming in time-lapse. Five hundred assembled students gasped simultaneously. Kimmy screamed like a prom queen in a slasher flick, dropping the baby. Upon impact with the hardwood floor, "baby bleeds-a-lot" splattered anew. The pom-pom pyramid quickly disassembled and horrified pom-pom girls ran screaming out of the gym in all directions. Kimmy—Karo-syrup blood dripping from her hair—stood motionless, her eyes moving from the fake carnage on the floor to the bleachers, scanning for the culprit. Suddenly, one of the varsity footballers let fly with a hardy, bellowing laugh. Immediately, the rest of the student body followed suit. And that was that.
Spartacus-like, the half-dozen of us who were rounded up all insisted we'd acted alone. Since (miraculously, in retrospect) no one was injured, we were spared suspension and given two weeks detention.
In the aftermath, something strange happened. The sucker punches stopped. The popular kids started saying "hello." This awkward sophomore had overnight cred, as did our band of new wave square pegs.
The following week, a good friend (and fellow geek) who happened to edit the school newspaper, ran a large photo of Kimmy, dripping in blood, gazing down at the gore splattered doll with the following headline:
"ROUND-THE-WORLD BABY ATTEMPT ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT"
We loved him for that.
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