Midnight. Cheryl, Aaron, and I were sitting around the kitchen table playing the final hand of Rummy, anticipating that Aaron would win . . . again. Knowing that the game was about over, the rest of us abandoned any hope of making a spectacular comeback as we accepted the inevitable. I was sitting there minding my own business when the strangest thing happened. For some reason, Cheryl started doing cheerleader fingers across the table. Surely you know what I mean.
The first time I ever saw that routine was probably 45 years ago when my sister Sue used the gimmick to make all of us laugh. One time, she even dressed her hand up in a little cheerleader’s skirt to make it more realistic. She could do an entire routine with her first two fingers as legs jumping and strutting around the table. She had it down to a true art form, where you could easily imagine the cheerleader out on the basketball court performing a halftime routine. Of course, Sue was a master at making us all laugh, with more and more outlandish cheerleading moves, mimicking a high jump into the air and landing in the splits, until our laughter was out of control. She wouldn’t let up until we were literally rolling on the floor. It was such a predictable effect, that whenever we needed a good laugh, we begged, “C’mon Sue, do cheerleader fingers!” Of course, she always complied.
So, even though it was nearly midnight, a cheerleader appeared, strutting across the table toward my arm. According to Cheryl, this cheerleader’s name was Marcy, and she was more aggressivo, aggressive than most. She put her little cheerleader “foot” on me and kept kicking my hand that was holding the cards. Since I was about to make my last play of the evening, I casually brushed her away, but she bounced back. She kept pestering me with taps and jabs that were hard to ignore until I had to say (with my pretend serious voice), “Stop it!” But she wouldn’t quit. Finally, I conceded, saying in a resigned tone, “OK—go ahead and do what you have to do. I’ll just sit here until you’re finished.” She took me at my word!
My declaration of an official “game called on account of interference” in the Rummy action emboldened our little cheerleader even more, as she jumped up on my forearm in one of her most outrageous high-kicking routines. But she didn’t stop there. Soon, she was charging up my left bicep, and I imagined the entire squad of cheerleaders running up the field-house steps, each one trying to personally engage the crowd at every level. And if that wasn’t enough, Marcy began a fast motion bouncing cheer from high atop the “nose-bleed section.” From there she continued her antics with an incredible jump, landing on my forehead for the grand finale, where she performed the splits for the cheering crowd—finger-legs almost stretching from temple to temple.
By then, all eyes were fixed on Cheryl’s halftime entertainment, and the laughter was getting a bit raucous. Even I couldn’t resist the humor of the extraordinary finale, as we were all caught up in one of those moments of contagious laughter, just like the old days. Our bitsy cheerleader then did a dramatic running-slide back down my arm to the gym floor (table), exhausted by the hilarity of it all. The mere thought of what just happened sent us into yet another outburst of laughter—the kind where your hands instinctively cover your face because you know that your contortions are not fit for public viewing. You know what I mean?
There’s nothing like a hearty laugh with friends and family. At those brief moments, all troubles and distractions miraculously disappear, as we are immersed in pure and overwhelming joy. Maybe that’s why LOL is such a popular acronym on the internet these days. Intuitively, we are drawn toward the sound and exhilarating feeling of laughter in the air.
Note: all of the above pictures were taken from a reenactment, and should not be misconstrued as scenes from the actual event. However, you can watch Marcy doing her favorite routine on YouTube called “Cheerleader Fingers,” or just watch the following video.