You can find a life cheerleader on the internet no problem. This is different than a life coach. There’s little to no coaching involved; someone simply affirms you and everything you stand for. Standing is key. My hand-me-down table can stand by itself unsupported, and who’s to say that can’t be me someday? I got over embarrassment a long time ago.
The service is a fairly new operation, but there’s no horseplay involved. I can be somewhat first on the scene, like a lookout.
There are plenty of male life cheerleaders––even a few trained dogs––but mine turns out to be female. Her name is Betsy.
I offer her a juicebox and a plate of fish sticks when she arrives.
“Thanks for being here, Betsy.”
“Somebody has to.”
She lodges herself in my papasan chair.
“The world should know that I exist. Your recognition will go a long way.”
“Yes. I’m a friend of sorts,” she says.
On general principle, I don’t allow anyone to enter my apartment. Never! I wonder if Betsy can detect it. She wilts across the rattan frame’s self-rotating axis.
“I’d like to switch things up in my career. Dive into trades from-of-old. Study shipbuilding even. Do you have any contacts in the shipbuilding community?”
“That’s not how this works.”
“Or I could go a different route. I hear there’s a position called ‘pain specialist.’ That sounds fitting with my experience.”
Is Betsy undercover? Does she have assorted costumes? Can she maneuver in the stealthiest of circles? Who can tell?
“I’m really just getting started here. I’ve always wanted to pursue this humanitarian effort, for instance. You know Race for the Cure? I’d do that, but it’s for the band. The Cure. They’ve had too many people come and go from the lineup. They need our help.”
You start with the music. And then––the world. But I keep that to myself. The plan’s too powerful. It’s not ready to be unleashed just yet.
“Sounds great,” Betsy says, but I can tell she doesn’t mean it.
“I monitor the band members. Here and there. I thought I’d be running a bar at this point, but that’s out the window.”
“No, literally, it’s out the window. Someone chucked the bar top out through the second story panes. What a nightmare.”
The truth is my dad owned that bar. And Betsy knows it.
So this is what all those married people are going on about. Someone to corroborate your story. My life cheerleader stays around for much longer than I expected. She comes over every Tuesday. Tuesdays with Betsy. That’s the cheerleading package I can afford.
“I’m eating these but you still can’t,” I wave a bowl of prehistoric tater tots in her face.
“Fantastic,” she says.
“You can have one of those bananas over there. I’m not gonna. They’re not worth the banana thumb.”
Betsy nods, then says, “Huh?”
“Banana thumb. You know, the little black line that forms under your thumbnail after you peel it. Gets stuck all day. Not worth the peel.”
“Then why do you buy them?”
“You’re the cheerleader,” I say. “You tell me.”
This is no time for her to loaf. Word has gotten around.
In the surveillance footage, you can see my tattoo of Cure frontman Robert Smith peeking out from underneath my collar right as I’m charging lacquered wood through glass. People freeze but eventually start grabbing bottles off the shelves and privately chugging them.
Betsy pats my shoulder with one hand and feeds herself a banana with the other.
“Like you mean it,” I say.
She starts smacking. Then she carries me out the door. We find her car. She gives me a piggyback ride through the forest and sets me down at the mouth of a cave.
I sit among the troglobites and guano. I consider aging cheeses in here.
My echo reassures me that’d be a wise move.