Peer Pressure

Approval, acceptance, and inclusion must come from within

By Chela
Published on LatinoLA: January 31, 2005

Peer Pressure

I was never the type to easily succumb to peer pressure. I mean in High School I could go to a party and drink Root Beer the whole night and I was one of the last virgins standing ? at a Catholic School nonetheless ? Nuf said, I think you get the picture.

So, as my mom would often say, ?If someone told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it??, my answer would be a definitive ?NO?. But, as was the case in Lake Tahoe 2003, when Nichole asked me to jump off a cliff because she just didn?t have the nerve to do it by herself but if she didn?t do this jump she just wouldn?t EVER, EVER forgive herself for as long as she lived. I was brought up Catholic (remember?) ? in my religion forgiveness is an important thing. Of course, I?d be of service. Besides, from our distance, it looked a tad higher than the high dive at the public pool. No biggie, I?ve been doing the high dive since I was ten.

So, we took the short hiking trail to THE CLIFF. Halfway there, we saw a small, lanky girl (12 years about) at shore with her dad. He held her bruised arms as he turned to see them from every angle her arm would twist to.

?Is that from the Jump?, Nichole inquired.

?Yeah, are you going to do it??

?Yup, we?re on our way!?, Nichole beamed.

?Remember to hold your arms close to your sides?. She stood up straight with her arms close to her sides like a soldier.

?Will do?, Nichole remarked confidently.

?Enjoy! Except for the bruises, it?s a blast!?

Poor white people, I thought, they bruise so easily.

But, as we got closer I saw ? this cliff was not like the height of a public pool high dive. It looked like a high dive for Godzilla! I was having second thoughts. It?s not as if I wanted to do this to begin with. It?s Nichole who won?t sleep well for the rest of her life if she doesn?t do this. I had a plan, I?ll go to the top with her. After she jumps, she?ll be happy enough that she did and there?ll no longer be any reason for me to have to go through with it. Plan? Plan!

When we reached the top, we found a group of high school-aged guys there. They were the teenage slacker-but-cute type. They had grown out of their junior high skeletal figures so there was some resemblance of muscle tone but not a single gram of fat resided on their tanned and caramel colored chests, except for the chubby one. There?s always gotta be a chubby one. In their flip flops and surfer shorts and overall excitement for life, they were cutie pies ? too bad I was graduating high school when they were BORN!

The slackers took turns drinking, crushing and tossing their beer cans ,then running and jumping off the cliff. "Whooooo!", they would scream on their way down and the pack of slackers looking like a pack of wolves howled back at them.

Nichole, being very close in age to them, or at least born in the same decade, became an instant friend. One of the good looking ones gave us both pointers. We listened and watched, learning from their example. Of course, I had no intentions of jumping, but I feigned interest nonetheless.

Then there was the leader, the alpha male of the teenage pack. He was an attractive dark-haired boy. Picture ?Gonzalez? from The Sandlot bare-chested and in surfer shorts. He was coaching the skinny one. Yup, there?s always gotta be a skinny one, too. Then the two of them began to walk toward the edge. This got everyone?s instant attention and all conversation stopped. Gonzalez escorted him to the precipe the way Mr. Trump enters ballrooms with his trophy wives ? with pride in his every step!

?What? Skeeze is going to jump??, shouted The Chubby One.

The leader gave a dignified and appropriately noble nod ?yes?.

WHOOOO ? HOOOO, the rowdy pack erupted in hoots, howls, cheers and jeers!

The Skeee-eeeeze

Sk, sk, sk, sk, skeeeezsters!

The Skeez-insky?s gonna jump!

?Skeeze doesn?t jump??, I thought I asked politely enough.

?His name is Steve. Only WE can call him Skeeze.?

?Oh, sorry. St-St-Steve,? I stuttered, ?doesn?t jump??

?Nope, this?ll be Skeeze-olenowski?s first time,? the boy answered.

The hoots and howls continued as Skeeze and the leader walked. The very second his toes touched the rim, all became silent. Even the birds stopped chirping to bear witness to the glory of Skeeze?s moment. Then Skinnny Skeeze, with his two big toes pressing against the dirt lip, in seemingly slow motion turned his head back at Gonzlaez the leader, who by the ever so slight cocking back of his neck orchestrated the grand command, and with a sneer on his face Skeeze turned back around (still in slow motion) to face the glorious horizon and whoop ? he was gone!

Skeeze, as instructed, leaped forward enough to clear the first rock protrusion, but his arms and lugs flung wildy into grotesquely seemingly impossible contortions. How could all four of his appendages be swinging in four different directions at once?

?Noooo!? the group of boys shouted, ?Arms straight, legs down.?

But Skeeze?s yells of "Aaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiooooooouuuuuuuyyyyyyyyy!? probably kept him from hearing any of the warnings coming from the well meaning boys who despite their protective shouts couldn?t stop laughing. It was a nervous laugh like my very own, I?m assuming.

?Skeeeeeze, ha, ha, ha, Arms straight ? Legs down,? they continued while grabbing their stomachs as they chuckled along!

But Skeeze being as academic as he was just kept shouting out the vowels-
AAAAAAAAaaaaaa, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ? he screamed as he continued his downward descent and his appendages reached Cirque de Slolei flexibility.

Then, when it seemed like he was just about to crash into the water in the shape of a human pretzel, the leader spoke. ?Pencil, Skeeze,? It sounded just over a whisper but somehow, in between the ?ooooooooooooooooo uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?s,? Skeeze changed. His arms went straight to his side, his legs straight down and his toes even pointed. He looked the shape of a perfect pencil.

?Plong?, the water answered as he cut through it instantly disappearing into the black, leaving only an Olympiad diver?s splash. (which is very small) behind him.

?YEAH!!!?, THE WHOLE GROUP JUMPED AND CHEERED IN utter jubilation. Then, that slow motion phenomena began again. Chubbo cheered. Cutie pie cheered. Almost a cutie pie cheered, wanna-be leader cheered. As Skeeze?s face plopped above the water, he shouted ?Whooo-hooooo? back and the song of howls became a chorus. Oh this song of adolescent boy approval was so sweet to my ears! Oh the ecstacy of acceptance. It was utterly intoxicating.

The truth is, I was one of the last virgins standing not so much because of my virtuosity but more so because of my lack of opportunity. High school boys were mean and prickish. Everyone wanted to be liked by these caramel skin, surfer short, beer drinking types, but only some cheerleading skirt wearing girls were. Well, them and ----- Skeeze! Skeeze may as well have been High School Homecoming Queen the way these boys were shouting about over him. In that moment and I admit it, I was envious of The Skeeze!

?You?re next Nichole,? the leader spoke with a confident flirt in his smirk.

?Nope, I am,? I offered, even though Nichole was moving in that direction.

Sorry, Nichole, I can?t let my Glory moment be diluted by being the third. I?ve waited for this day for toooo long!

?Short and quick, like a band-aid,? the leader said.

Okay, no slow motion dramatics then.

?Afterwards, you girls can come drink with us?

?Cool,? I respond. No matter, that I could legally drink for 7 years already and they were probably still 7 away from it!

After I jumped, I didn?t hear screams or shouts or warnings because I was descending down in a perfect pencil-like shape. Arms close in, legs down and toes pointed. My life flashed in front of me and I was still falling. Now, what? I felt like I was almost there or at least should be by now so I looked down ? big mistake! Ah, there it is ? I change my mind. And I don?t know WHY I thought I might be able to fly back up because my legs went up toward my body and my arms reached outwards like wings right as I ? SMACK ? hit the water! Underwater, I felt pain and of all places ? in my anus! The impact of the water was so powerful that it actually caused water to literally shoot up my asshole giving me the colon cleanse of my life! I came up from the water and not realizing what was about to come out of my mouth, I said, ?My butt hurts!? The boys bursted into laughter!

At home, I lay with ice on my fanny retelling Alma my best friend the whole story.

?So you got sodomized by water??, she asks.

?Pretty much,? I answer

?For the glory of boy approval??

?NO, so I could support my female friend?

And on that premise, I accepted my fate for the next few months. It took two weeks for my green and orange bruised cheeks to turn a more appropriate black and blue. I waddled everywhere because one doesn?t realize how much butt squeezing occurs in a normal walk from here to there. I only slept on my stomach, and don?t make me mention all the positions which were not on the playlist for the next year in a half.

I only retell this humiliating story so that you learn from the pain of my past. Approval, acceptance, inclusion ? they all must come from within. Girls, you don?t have to do anything other than be yourself and truly love yourself. The gifts of love, respect and camaraderie are reciprocated. Love yourself, love others and you even though you may not hang with the boys who have nicknames that only they can call each other, this love is sure to come back to you.

So last night, I?m at an event that a good friend who is a relative of the incredibly gorgeous Rick Quintero (of Channel 11) invited me to. Who is Rick Quintero? Rick Quintero is the cop who does the traffic report on the Channel 11 morning news. It?s not only his knowledge of the Southern California freeways that women the whole county, especially Angelinos, lust over.

But, if you are a Mexican-American woman, you will understand intimately and completely like no other can. With his bronze skin, tall physique, eyes that gleam and a smile that is totally disarming, Ricky (as his close circle calls him) is utter Chicano perfection. Te da la gana para hechar un grito just by looking at him and after that gut reflex you can think about it and still go ?Damn, homegirl, all that and he?s a Chicano!?

So, when everybody was talking about going skydiving, of course I said, ?No way, I?ve jumped off a cliff before for a thrill and ----?

And then it happened, he flashed that perfect smile and touched my arm. He started to say, ?But, it doesn?t even feel like your falling???..? He explained more but don?t ask me what he said because my mind had him, his smile and his hand that was touching my arm all stuck in freeze frame. ?Waaaa,whuuuuuu, waaaa,? heard my ears (ala Charlie Brown's teacher-style) as I memorized every detail of his face.
?Well, how do you land??, I ask, ?On your feet??

"No, on your butt.,? Ricky answered me. ?But it doesn?t hurt a bit?.,? he continued.

Then I hear my mom?s voice: ?If someone were to ask you to jump out of a moving plane, would you do it?"

No, Mom, most definitely not. But, if it was Ricky Quintero who had asked you???

You might be considering it, too!

About Chela:
This was a moment in Chelas Choes. You may reach chela at chela_chews@yahoo.com

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