All-American Cheerleader Sandi Sentell Stands in Line Outside Alumni Gym Before a Lecture by Gloria Steinem
The ticket wasn’t hard to get. Steinem was still a name, still famous enough to fill a room, just not
the best room
on campus. We were gathered along the sidewalk, waiting to file into Alumni Gym, hardly used
anymore except by the kayak club
rolling their boats in the basement pool, the brick facade of the place done up in a land grant
version of institutional gothic
like all the other old buildings on The Hill, the symbol of the university. From where I stood in line
a half-dozen people behind her,
Sandi Sentell was the celebrity. An aura still hung about her that on Saturday afternoons in
Neyland Stadium had illuminated us all.
Back in the early days of autumn I’d somehow gotten first row tickets for the UCLA game.
Terrible seats, really,
corner of the end zone in the student section, too low, no angle on the field, but every time
the network television camera
swung to take in Sandi Sentell hoisted joyously aloft, I was in the shot for family and friends
to see. And here she stood on a late spring evening,
waiting in line like the rest of us. Fame is as fleeting as anything else—the simplest solvent will
break it down
and send it seeping into the ground water. If you’re given a daubing of celebrity it’s honorable
to do some good with it,
to help the massed ticket-holders clarify and concentrate their passions towards some
constructive end. When the line finally moved,
she looked over her shoulder toward Cumberland Avenue where the late commuters were
formed into a line of their own, one to a car,
unaware of us or who was slated to speak, the hooded disks of light in the traffic signals grown
more insistent against the gloaming,
and then a moment’s pause at each change to green before the straining of the cars joined into
one plainting hymn.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Bobby C. Rogers. All rights reserved. Bobby C. Rogers is professor of English and writer-in-residence at Union University. He earned an M.F.A. from the University of Virginia, where Charles Wright was his teacher. His first book, Paper Anniversary, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. His second book, Social History, appeared in 2016. He lives in Memphis.
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