The Prodigal Cheerleader

The Prodigal Cheerleader

Aero Bigboots, aka "The Prodigal Cheerleader" at the 50-yard-line of Srooc Skytower Memorial Stadium with a group of Second Life Cheerleading Squad cheerleaders a few minutes before their Thursday evening meeting begins
Thursday, 6 January 2022The Prodigal Cheerleader shows up at the 50-yard line of SLCS’ Srooc Skytower Memorial Stadium

Srooc Skytower Memorial Stadium

Before I launch into all my petty silliness, I should first answer the obvious question. Or, obvious to me at least. Why is the stadium named after my February 2011 SLCS Cheerleader Trainee Instructor, Srooc Skytower?

Screen cap of a Facebook post informing people that Srooc Skytower had passed away on 6 March 2014.

I learned from Facebook that Srooc passed away on 6 March 2014. It took me long enough to find out. Still, I have tears on my cheeks. What sad news. It was so great to see so many familiar faces last night. I won’t get to see Srooc again. But I did get to spend time in her stadium.

I miss you, Srooc. I love you. I honor your memory. Thank you for training me, and Abbie, and I can’t imagine how many others. I’ll do my pathetic best to try to live up to your memory and the life you lived.

Screen cap of a Facebook post about a memorial service held in Srooc Skytower's honor on 20 March 2014.

It feels sort of wrong to even bother with my little blog post and my petty silliness now. Srooc did so much for me and for so many others. Maybe all I can do is press on. If I must be silly, at least I can be silly in Srooc’s honor.

Valentine's Day photo from 2011 showing a cheerleader on one knee pretending to propose to Srooc Skytower.
Monday, 14 February 2011Valentine’s Day – Srooc getting marriage proposal #4,027!

The Prodigal Cheerleader

The prodigal cheerleader showed up to practice last night. I joined the Second Life Cheerleading Squad (SLCS) in 2011. It was a great experience! Nonetheless, eventually the lure of the Physical World (PW) pulled me out of the Virtual World (VW) of Second Life (SL), and along with it, out of SLCS.

So… I missed a few days. If you insist on being technical about it, well, then, um, something like four thousand days.

Second Life Cheerleading Squad

There are a few amazing things:

  1. I actually remember how to login to SL
  2. When so many SL Dance Clubs, Clothing Shops, Art Galleries, and other venues have faded from view over the years, SLCS is still going strong
  3. How many familiar faces there were even after all this time
  4. How many new faces were happy to meet me
  5. Just how warmly a group can greet someone who has, uh, “failed to show up” for, you know, a *few* days.
A group of SLCS Cheerleaders, including me, Aero The Prodigal Cheerleader Bigboots, in a human pyramid formation.
Monday, 7 February 2011Human Pyramid! I’m in the 2nd row up, 2nd from the left.
Looking at my name on a board of "Waiting Applicants" to be a Second Life Cheerleading Squad (SLCS) trainee.
Tuesday, 18 January 2011Me, looking at my name on the board, waiting for my applicant interview

The Goldilocks Zone

Dance Clubs

Like so many souls adrift in pandemic isolation, I returned to SL in mid-2020. Here for a bit, and then, you’ll never guess, lured out by some other siren song.

In late 2021 I re-reappeared in SL. Got hired as a host at the VooDoo dance club. Started an SL group, the “Empty Coffee Shop Club” (ECSC).

I never really thought about this as a dance club guest, but when you strip out all the endlessly repeating gesture text, Local Chat at a dance club can be mostly a wasteland. Many guests only talk in IM. They might be chatting with their friends, or hitting on strangers, but they mostly don’t say much in Local.

A big room full of strangers.

Coffee Shops

I’ve discovered recently that SL is filled with truly lovely Coffee Shops. And every one of them is empty almost all the time. Since a busy dance club can be so emotionally empty — like having lots of Followers and “Likes” for stuff on FB or IG can be such an empty experience for our fleshvatar friends — I thought maybe an almost empty coffee shop wasn’t actually a bad thing.

I don’t expect ECSC will ever fill a coffee shop. But if I send a notice that I’ll be hanging out at Willow’s Nordica Cafe, or Lost in Pages Books & Cafe for the next hour, 1 or 2 people might come and go during that time. SL Coffee Shops are nice places for conversations, for sorting your Inventory, for AFK working on blog posts like this one, or your Blender/Maya projects, etc

I like both, but Dance Clubs might be a little too hot. And Coffee Shops might be a little too cold.

Second Life Cheerleading Squad (SLCS)

And SLCS might be just right. Whether you do a performance for a group that loves what you’re doing, or pays no attention at all, you’re there with your group. You’re there with the most important people of all, your fellow cheerleaders.

The SLCS Cookbook

In the past 4,000-or-so-days I’ve thought of SLCS many times. And since I’ve been back and seen the group notices fill my SL notice cue, I couldn’t help but think of SLCS. I’ve been curious what they were up to ever since I returned to SL. To be honest, I was just too embarrassed after being gone so long to show my face. So I was content to host for guests paying no attention to you at VooDoo, and inviting (almost) no one to meetup at coffee shops.

Photo of Joni Temple Shadow in the SLCS Video Room
Thursday, 6 January 2022 Joni Temple Shadow, cookbook cook, and cheerleader’s cheerleader

And then a slightly different SLCS notice came out. Joni Temple Shadow announced that she was organizing an SLCS Cookbook and would everyone please contribute a recipe? I was sitting at a table at Lost in Pages Books & Cafe when that notice came through. My avatar was drinking a toasty hot chai courtesy of Lost in Pages, and at the same time my fleshvatar was having one that I’d made in my PW kitchen. In fact, I’m having one right now as I type these words. And if I meetup with you in-world, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be having a chai then too.

Cookbook?

When I saw Joni’s announcement, it seemed obvious that I should write out my chai recipe and send it to her. It was fun to think through all the steps, the way I like to make it, and the ingredients I choose and all the diverse countries the different ingredients come from: cinnamon from Vietnam, ginger from Nigeria, cardamom from Guatemala, cloves from Comoros, anise from Spain, and so on.

Now that I’ve written it all out, I’m tempted to post my recipe here on KateNova.uk, but I think I’m going to make you wait for the SLCS Cookbook to read it. And when you finally get the SLCS Cookbook, be sure to make my chai! After all the hot cups I’ve had in Winter, and all the iced tumblers I’ve downed in summer, every cup is still incredible and so tasty. Chai, “Aero’s Chai”, or anybody else’s chai, is truly one of the wonders of the world.

I wrote out my recipe while hanging out at Lost in Pages, and with my typist pal running to the kitchen to look stuff up or see how I do things, and then sent it off to Joni.

Come Back and Play with Us

I got the warmest reply from her. She thanked me for the contribution. Said she hadn’t even thought of a “Beverage Section” and was now expanding the cookbook thanks to “Aero’s Chai”. And then she said,

I did a little snooping and I see that you’ve been gone for quite a while indeed. Your rank controller is v3.05. We’re on 3.11 now!!! Come back and play with us if you have time! 🙂 I’m also sending a friend request. Hope to meet you soon!

My biggest shock was that the Rank Controller is only on 3.11. I was afraid she was going to say it was on 20.7 now! I was also taken with how gracious someone I’d never met could be. #SLCSmagic

Joni encouraged me to come to Thursday night practice. As you can see from the photo up top, I did!

Charlize Bellic leading an SLCS brainstorming meeting in the stadium video room.
Thursday 6 January 2022Charlize Bellic leading a brainstorming session in the SLCS Video Room to come up with ideas for 2022 events
SLCS "Panels", the final interview to determine of a cheerleader candidate will be accepted on the squad.
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 – My final SLCS Cheerleader interview. I can’t believe how relaxed I look in this photo! I was totally nervous!

SLCS Blog Posts

My old SLCS Blog Posts:

Aero Bigboots eating popcorn in the SLCS Video Room and listening to a discussion about 2022 events.
Thursday, 6 January 2022Back for half an hour, and I’m already stuffing my face with popcorn!
Team photo of Second Life Cheerleading Squad (SLCS) cheerleaders from March 2011. There are 30 cheerleaders in 3 rows. They all wear matching SLCS tops and pleated skirts.
Thursday, 17 March 2011The Second Life Cheerleading Squad! I’m in the back row, 5th from the right. To my left is my BFF Abbie. And 3 more left of her is our SLCS Trainee Instructor, Srooc.

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