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The Cheerleader

By Claire Batler

So I moved to Seattle because I wanted to rock, I mean really rock, none of that girl pop stuff neither. I had my guitar strapped to my back and I could almost see myself playing it. I was going to be just like Courtney Love, only maybe I wouldn’t kill my husband. The days of “Nirvana” were gone, but grunge was still alive and I wanted a piece of it.

My friend, Jason, said I could live with him for a while. He was a punk and I loved him for it. He was in a band called “The Retards” and I knew he would be famous, and I could say I knew him, and not be lying. Jason was really funny too. I wondered if he stayed up at night and thought of funny things he could say the next day. He lived on top of a tattoo parlour. I wanted to say to him, “You’re so cool. Can I be you?”

But Jason needed to be Jason and I needed to be me. He slept on the floor and the light in his refrigerator never stayed on. Seven of his good friends lived with him and we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. I loved being able to have chocolate for dinner and not have to explain myself. During the days, we blasted “The Sex Pistols” on the stereo, and at night we’d maybe turn it down a little. One half empty jar of mayonnaise sat in the bare fridge forever. Some days there was mustard too. Jason had a really nice friend named Steve. He could write songs just like that. If I had, like, a tenth of his talent, I’d be happy. He never ever said goodbye, though. He would just give little pieces of advice like, “Don’t eat squirrels”. I liked it better. It was silly.

So, there were three exits to Jason’s apartment; you could go out the door, use the balcony stairs or you could climb out the window and down the wall. I liked doing that because it made me feel like a lizard. I always wanted to be green, but I did my hair pink before I left. It was nice, though, cause it made me feel cute like Drew Barrymore, but not cute like Shirley Temple. I once read that the thing voted the most beautiful trait in a human face was symmetry. I thought that was a good answer, but then I saw the pictures of the most symmetric, and therefore most beautiful, people in London and, I thought maybe eyes were more important, big glassy eyes you can see yourself in when you look into that person’s face. I thought purple eyes were cool too, so I always wanted to meet Elizabeth Taylor.

“Its not hard to pick out chips”, I said. “What about ketchup?”

“No”, Jason said.

“Salt and vinegar?”


“Sour cream and bacon”?

“Mmm…that’s more of a breakfast chip.”

See what I mean? I think Jason has a secret stash of funny things to say.

I’ve been here a few weeks and I’m still not in a band. I wish things would fall easily into place for me. maybe if my hair was black I could get whatever I wanted, just like Veronica Lodge. But then Archie should have gone for Betty. I went to record shop a few blocks away called “For the Record”. They sold a lot of tapes with names like “Couchie Bears” on it. The Riot Grrl movement was everything I wanted and more. On my way out of the shop, a guy gave me a flyer to see his band playing at a club. I folded it twice and put it in my Minnie Mouse wallet. I wish I was in a band. So I asked Jason if he could teach me to write songs. “Sure, all you gotta do is start with a hook and then write verses and then change the hook so no one can hum your song.” Maybe I’ll ask Steve.

One box of midnight black hair dye, $14.99.

I remember when I was really young and I went to my uncle’s wedding and everyone thought I was so cute, so they were all giving me dimes and nickels and stuff. Then, when people were dancing, I slipped them back into people’s pockets. Maybe if I had kept them, I wouldn’t have to bum quarters so often.

Jason’s friend, Mark, said black hair makes me look like a witch, so I got it done pink again. My hairdresser probably knows I have a crush on him. Once I asked this guy Pete if he knew any people I could start a band with. He said that I was too cool for them. I asked him if he was married.

I changed the lightbulb in the fridge, it must have a short circuit.

After a while I took the flyer out of my wallet and went to see this guy’s band. I wanted to be up on stage so bad my eyes watered a bit and my pink hair didn’t make me feel cute anymore. I could see myself up there. I was so cool. Tossing my head up and down, singing my throat dry, my dreadlocks flying up and down like the pompom of a cheerleader, the girl I want to be.

The Cheerleader

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