“Honey, the Baby-Sitters are here” — A Virgin Islands hideaway, a ball autographed by Love, and the ultimate Kid-Friendly Date Night make the Spirit Squad fundraiser a success beyond your wildest dreams
Never before has a Nanny-Cam been so imperative. Okay, maybe in the hundreds of thousands of cases of real-world psycho-nannies, but next to those, this would be the night where if you didn’t have a Nanny-Cam, you’d never leave the house. Actually, forget the Nanny-Cam — Bring on the Brianny-Cam.
What a Date Night Dilemma. What would YOU do? You win a drawing for a Date Night prize package that includes a romantic Italian Dinner for Two and a night at a fine Beverly Hills hotel. BUT — and it’s a mesmerizing but that you absolutely cannot ignore — while you and the missus are out re-kindling your passion, your lucky, lucky kids will be getting tended to by two members of the Spirit Squad.
I can see it now — Right after the salad is served — “Honey, I think I left the garage door open. I’ll be right back.” And then after dessert, maybe one more excuse to go “check on the kids.” Do any of you out there have kids that deserve to be spoiled like this while you miss out? Okay, but get ready to hear them cry whenever the next babysitter arrives. “I miss Katie and Brianna! I don’t want anyone else!” Yeah, kid… I feel your pain.
So no, despite stuffing the box, I did NOT win the prize. And that’s too bad, because I’m sure my Wife and whoever she took would have had a very nice meal and hotel stay.
The Babysitting Cheerleaders prize was just one of the highlights of an Afternoon full of highs. It all started with a greeting from a few of the Bruin Cheerleaders, who were appreciatively welcoming their fans to the event and checking them in. Mollie (+1 1/2) was also there at the door, making people know how much their support means to the Squad. I even got to meet her Husband. I told him that I LOVE his Wife… and he decked me. No, of course he didn’t hit me. He knew what I meant, and was very gracious. Besides, I bet he hears it all the time.
You know what else I love? Good food. I had very low expectations for the food and drinks. I felt a little guilty promoting all of it beforehand, thinking — that due to budget cuts — it may be celery and carrot sticks, and little dixie cups of water. I was pleasantly surprised. Someone donated Beer, someone donated Wine, and someone donated VODKA, so I had a Vodka Lemonade (on an empty stomach), which was cool, refreshing, and intoxicatingly delicious. And the Bartenders (Alumni Association personnel) refused to take a tip. Okay — more money for the drawings.
But speaking of delicious, let’s talk about the food. Shrimp Cocktail, but not with red sauce like you’re used to. Each serving was in a chilled, mega-shot glass, and it was a mix of several shrimp in a delectable white ginger sauce. Half the fun was spearfishing with the toothpick for bottom-dwelling shrimp swimming in the sauce deep below the surface.
If you like Gorgonzola, you would have loved the Melted Gorgonzola on Flatbread — Fancy little mini-pizzas. And if you wanted something spicier, there were jalapeno fritters — fried balls of hot. But they didn’t forget about all the Jewish donors — Would you believe “Short Rib on Potato Pancake,” with a tiny dollup of sour cream on top? Oy! I mean, “Awesome.” There was also a mystery sandwich on a mini French Roll, with cabbage, and corned beef maybe? I don’t know what it was, but it was great. Remember, I just had a Vodka, and besides, I can’t concentrate on food while surrounded by all those beautiful girls, even without the alcohol. All I know is the drink, and all the food, were way better than I expected. Nice job, Mollie, or whoever was in charge of that part of the event.
Okay, before you start thinking that I’m just blowing smoke at Mollie, raving over everything she does, I’ll throw out a couple of negatives. But don’t go overboard the other way and accuse me of being negative or unappreciative (like happened a while back over some other event). I was surprised that Norm Chow did not speak to the crowd like Rick Neuheisel did.
For some reason, I thought that each of them was going to give a little speech, about the upcoming season, and maybe we would hear some inside info, or at least something that hasn’t already been on the Internet. Chow was there, and he was being very cordial and social with all the fans, and so was Neuheisel. But only Neuheisel took the stand, and he did not talk about 2010 UCLA Football at all.
Don’t get me wrong — Rick was great — Entertaining as always, and very appreciative of the Spirit Squad, but nothing about Kevin Prince et al. He even told a great story about David Norrie hitting Norrie’s girlfriend-Cheerleader with a throwaway pass. And he underlined a vital area of importance of the Spirit Squad when he admitted that the quality of the UCLA GIRLS was one of the reasons he became a Bruin in the first place.
I was also mildly surprised that all the players and ex-players in attendance did not say anything to the crowd. They never went up to the podium. And since I don’t like taking photos of people while they’re in Mingling Cocktail Conversation, you’ll just have to believe me that James Keefe, Mustafa Abdul-Hamid, Rahim Moore, Kai Forbath, and Taylor Embree were all present, wearing name tags, and totally accessible to everyone in the room. At least Chancellor Block said a few words, and even participated enthusiastically with an 8-Clap.
Getting back to the positives (where I belong): In addition to the Spirits, Fine Cuisine, and celebrities, the ambience was completed by a looped Cheer Video, projected on a wide screen, AND excellent LIVE MUSIC, supplied on the PIANO by a Male member of the Cheer Squad. It was perfect, sophisticated background music, and I THOUGHT about it, but I stopped myself before requesting that he play some Led Zeppelin.
The Piano was in the room with the Silent Auction memorabilia. A basketball signed by the incomparable John Wooden DESERVES a classical soundtrack. Other items up for bid included Basketballs signed by Kevin Love and Baron Davis, as well as one signed by Ben Howland, Scott Garson, Scott Duncan, and … Donny Daniels. Between all these Sports items was a vacation spot in the U.S. Virgin Islands — A Villa, or condo or something. I’m not sure air fare was included, but still, pretty nice donation.
Separate from the Silent Auction was the room with the Drawing Prizes. This is where the Date Night/Babysitting Prize Package was. Other prizes here included a Beauty/Makeover/Spa-type thing, a Baking/Home-Ec package complete with apron, a Panda Express Package, and the Chris Sailer Jackpot, with a ball autographed by the former Star Bruin Kicker, and also passes for Sailer’s renowned Kicking School.
Even in these trying financial times, SOME people must still be okay, because there were LOTS of (paid) entries into these drawings, and they didn’t announce the WINNING Auction bids, but just the Starting Bids indicate that the Squad will now be able to afford new Uni’s whenever they need them. Someone even kicked in 5 grand. But maybe people aren’t that “okay.” There are two other options: It COULD be just for the tax write-off, or, it COULD be like a Televangical Cult — Maybe the hypnotic pull of the Squad just drew blood from turnips. Either way, I think that the evening was an unqualified success.
And I also got a little info that I had been seeking: First of all, and most importantly, Michelle is not dead. She’s okay, but the circumstances of her premature departure from the Squad do not need to be revealed here. I’ve never made the Girls’ personal lives fodder for banter here, and I’m not going to start now. I’m just glad she’s okay.
As for the Spirit Squad not showing up to support the UCLA Gymnastics team on Saturday night at Pauley: There really was a PERFECT explanation. It turns out that the NCAA does not allow a HOSTING school to have its Cheerleaders perform at the Gymnastics Regionals, so as to keep the Home Court Advantage to a minimum. After all, the “playoffs” are supposed to be at a neutral site. So that explains that — I guess the policy wasn’t communicated to Mollie in time to NOT have it listed on the Cheer Website Calendar. Oh well — I still got to witness in person an amazing display of Bruin beauty and grace, not unlike the Spirit Squad themselves.
Speaking of which, here are 33 more photos from the Afternoon Reception. All the photos expand when you click on them (although these damn indoor shots tend to be a little grainy when enlarged), and all the shots have mouse-over captions that pop up when you rest your cursor on the photo. If it disappears before you can read it, just move the cursor off and back on again, and it will re-appear.
Finally: Thanks to Mollie, and all her students, especially Dance Team Katie, for everything they have given to me and to my alma mater for so long.