I have to come clean and admit that during Megan’s 44 month battle with cancer, we watched all things reality. Our gluttonous excess ranged from Survivor to Wife Swap to The Bachelor. We didn’t miss a season of American Idol. The Bachelor reproduced into The Bachelorette. Our appetite was insatiable for mindless t.v., and the networks delivered.
Who could fault us? We lived in life and death reality, and t.v. provided the great escape to a world where for a moment our overriding concern was who Andrew Firestone was going to marry. The sad truth is I lacked the ability to concentrate. Megan’s daily stats of blood counts, chemo protocol, and drug management expended all my intellectual energy.
Around the year anniversary of her death I realized my mental flabbyness, and decided to fast from t.v. I thought a job at Sur La Table would provide me the outlet to get out of my home and focus on becoming an expert at all-things-kitchen-tools. When I listed my hours on my application for availability, I put in 10 to 15…the approximate time a week that I had been slow cooking my brain on reruns.
The surprise gift of my abstinence from the tube is that I have dropped 25 pounds in the last 10 months. Slowly but surely, as I focus on lifting a Kitchen-Aid to the counter for a customer instead of pushing the remote button, the weight has dropped off. I am not on a diet. The big change isn’t pushing away from the table, but pushing myself to do something new.
I did retained one reality show in my weekly line-up: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Making the Team. Often imitated, but never duplicated, this show straddles the line between reality and educational…leaving me license to not lump it in with all the others. From a business perspective, Kelli Finglass, Director of the DCC, is a marketing genius who has not only built a precision team of the most watched girls, but has corralled those Texas beauties into a cash cow of calendars, workout videos, and public appearances. Ms. Finglass (you can call her ma’am) knows how to brand with the best of ’em.
Megan introduced me to this wonder of a show. Snuggled in her bed, we watched a world that was only imaginary to us. My daughter longed for the day that she could run again, and for 30 to 60 minutes a week she was transported to a place where she was the cheerleader-in-training. The coveted prize at Jay Johnson’s Boot Camp is the DCC Power Squad crop top, earned by the few, the proud, the DCC elite who successfully accomplished two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run in record time. My girl told me she was going to get better, start training…and wondered, “Mom, do you think you could write them and get me one of those shirts?” I tried to follow through on every one of her heart’s desires, and I’m sorry I didn’t call Ms. Finglass.
In Megan’s absence, I have herded my parents in to the fan club. Maybe they just started watching out of pity so they could talk to me about my imaginary friends. I sat with them through the first few episodes. Like a world-class sport’s commentator, I filled them in on the soup of last year’s contestants. I told them of the cheerleader-wanna-be that was cast out of the Magic Kingdom because of her drunken photo on Facebook. It was a delicious moment. While I don’t think I know the names of any of the Cowboys (wait, didn’t one date Jessica Simpson?), I do know that Choreographer Judy Trammell’s daughter Cassie made the squad last year. I cried when I saw Judy’s elation as she embraced her winning daughter.
Even though I didn’t make the high school drill team, I can be the judge and jury each year as over six hundred new and old cheerleader hopefuls contend for approximately thirty-six to forty slots. It’s as though I am sitting right next to Kelli (my BFF) each and every season.
Megan wanted to go to Jay Johnson’s Boot Camp, and as I draft my goals for 2010 I think ‘so do I’. Regretfully I’m not young enough for the cheerleaders, not fat enough for The Biggest Loser, and not famous enough for Celebrity Fit Club. I’m going to have to do more than lift a Kitchen-Aid to achieve the goal of a hard and healthy body…that’s my new reality.