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Tales of a Hay Hauler: For the want of a cheerleader, a life was wasted

Brad Nelson Published on 19 November 2009

Stereotypes are bad. One of the sharpest ladies I know is a blonde. And she gets a good laugh at a good “blonde” joke. But the stereotype doesn’t fit her at all. So as I relate the next incident, bear in mind that this is not typical.

Some ten or twelve years after I graduated from high school, I observed in my home town a couple who had been, in high school, the lead cheerleader and the star of the football team.

She was blonde, well-groomed, seemed to be sure of herself, and anything but a “dumb blonde.” The other half of this couple, however, was still wearing his high school letterman’s jacket, even though there was no chance he could get it to button.

He did not appear to be sure of himself, or educated. The scene seemed comical to me, but somehow not funny.

In about my junior year in high school (1962), at the annual elections for the next year’s cheerleaders, a tall, lanky blonde young man named Max decided to become a candidate.

This was before it was common for the cheerleader squad to be co-ed. In fact, it was unheard of for a male to be a cheerleader. As luck would have it, Max got more votes than any of the girls. It was a new and different situation, but it ended up working out okay.

Now fast-forward to the upsetting days for agriculture of the mid-1970’s to the early 1980’s. One of the hay growers I worked closely with mentioned the plight of a group of his neighbors.

About four families had farmed close enough together to share the bigger, expensive pieces of equipment. They gave it their best, but the market for agricultural products was neither kind nor forgiving.

After a valiant five-year struggle, the financial institutions foreclosed, and they had nothing. The crowning blow was that their wives filed for divorce about the same time.

Another individual experiencing the same financial situation in the same time-frame had a different experience. When the bankruptcy was inevitable and the discussion of where to go now and what to do was underway, his wife said to him that as long as he took her and the kids with, wherever he went or whatever he did would be just fine.

Gender doesn’t matter. The cheerleader that matters is not elected, but cultivated. The fertile soil of compassionate consideration, encouragement, self-sacrifice, and love produces the best “forever” cheerleaders. To have a cheerleader in your life, you must be one yourself.

Consider the following incidents. The car was misbehaving. The plan was to have the wife drop it off at the repair shop, the husband then to pick her up and take her on to work.

From the writings of the lady involved: “It hit me like a bombshell. He had always been somewhere behind me, just following, just there. In case I stumbled, he would be there to pick me up.

He didn’t interfere. He supported me in what I wanted to do, even those things that frightened me to try. How comforting were those headlights behind me, sometimes two or three cars back, but there and ready to pick me up.”

My favorite cheerleader isn’t much for being theatrical. Unless she’s acting as my editor. When the discussion of the proper usage of the king’s English would get a bit “warm”, she would tearfully state that she didn’t want people to think I was “an uneducated hick.” And so the commas were added or deleted as pleased her (most of the time).

With her kind guidance, I’ve progressed to where she doesn’t panic if I send a story off before she has a chance to edit it. Without her being theatrical, I know that she trusts me, that she believes in me and that in her eyes I can do no wrong.

Ah, that every man and woman could have such a cheerleader in his or her life. And better yet, that they know how to feed and care for them, so they want to stay forever.  FG