About the Author
Gregory has written for various magazines including Essence, More, Us Weekly, and Entertainment Weekly. In 1999 she penned the book series the Cheetah Girls. The books were adapted into a series of original movies by Disney Channel starting in 2003. She also wrote Catwalk and Catwalk: Strike a Pose.
Read an Excerpt
Who's 'Bout to Bounce?
The Cheetah Girls, Book 3
By Deborah Gregory
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1999 Deborah Gregory
All rights reserved.
When you put the C to the H to the A to the N to the E to the L, you've got one supa-fast Cheetah señorita! I mean, Chanel "Chuchie" Simmons is all legs, even though she is only five feet two—which is just a little taller than me. All right, Chanel is four inches taller, but that's not the point.
Right about now, after jogging all the way from Soho, where Chanel lives, up to Harlem, where I live (which is more miles than the Road Runner does in one cartoon episode) the rest of us Cheetah Girls feel like wobbly cubs. We're desperate for a little shade and some soda!
Chanel, on the other hand, looks like she's ready to do pirouettes or something. Now I can see why she used to take ballet lessons. She's got "gamma ray legs"!
"Wait up, Cheetah Señorita, yo!" I yell to Chanel, just to help her remember that she's not out here all by herself—that she is running with her crew. Our crew, that is. The Cheetah Girls.
Besides Chanel "Chuchie" Simmons, that would be: Galleria "Bubbles" Garibaldi, who is the leader of our pack; Aquanette and Anginette Walker, aka the "Huggy Bear twins"; and, of course, lucky me—Dorinda "Do' Re Mi" Rogers.
See, not too long ago, the five of us started a girl group, called the Cheetah Girls. You could pinch me every time I say it, 'cuz I still can't believe we got it like that.
Before I met my crew, I only sang for fun—you know, goofing around at home to entertain everybody. Bubbles and Chanel are the dopest friends I've ever had, and I'm so grateful that they got me to sing outside my bedroom.
I met them on our first day at Fashion Industries High School, where we are all freshmen, and it's the best thing that ever happened to me. Before, I was just plain old Dorinda Rogers. Now, I'm Do' Re Mi, which is the nickname my crew gave me. Do' Re Mi—one of the Cheetah Girls!
Bubbles and Chanel say we're gonna take over the world with our global groove. I hope they're right. For now though, we're just happy that Galleria's mom, Ms. Dorothea, has hooked us up with the famous Apollo Theatre Amateur Hour Contest! It's next Saturday— only a week and a half till we're up there, performing on that stage where the Supremes once sang. That is so dope!
See, Ms. Dorothea is not only Bubbles's mom—she has now officially become our manager. Our first manager was Mr. Jackal Johnson. We met him at the Cheetah-Rama Club, where we performed for the first time. He tried to manage us on the "okeydokey" tip. That means he was a crook.
When Ms. Dorothea found out Mr. Johnson was trying to get his hands on our duckets (not that we have any yet), she nearly threw him out the window! She doesn't play, you know what I'm sayin'?
Of course, Ms. Dorothea isn't out here running with us today, because she is very busy with her boutique—Toto in New York ... Fun in Diva Sizes—she runs the store, designs the clothes, and everything.
Aquanette says, "Dorothea's probably eating Godiva chocolates and laughing at us."
Word. She should talk! In fact, Aqua and Angie both like to eat a lot. If they keep it up, they're gonna be bigger than Dorothea by the time they're her age! (Dorothea used to be a model, but now she is "large and in charge," if you know what I mean!)
"Come on, Do' Re Poor Mi, move that match-stick butt!" heckles Chanel, poking out her tongue and "bugging" her eyes. Chanel is on a jelly roll, and she won't quit.
See, I can run almost as fast as her, but I don't wanna leave the rest of my crew behind.
I'm not flossin'. I can dance, skateboard, jump double Dutch, and I was the top tumbler in my gymnastics class last year in junior high, so what you know about that, huh?
Jackie Chan's got nothing on me, either. If I wanted to, I could do karate moves—well, if I had a black belt I could. At this point, I'd settle for a polka-dot belt, 'cuz you gotta watch your back in the jiggy jungle, especially in the part where I live, way up on 116th Street.
We've been running for a kazillion miles, and right about now Bubbles is at the end of her rope-a-dope.
"Chuchie, would you quit runnin' ahead of us? If you don't stop flossin', I'm gonna pull out one of your fake braids!" she snarls at the Cheetah señorita.
I start giggling. See, sometimes I'm scared to snap on Chanel or Bubbles, because I'm afraid if I do, then they won't let me be their friend.
Me, I'm just the new kid on the block. It's okay for them to snap on each other, though, 'cuz they've been friends forever—ever since Bubbles stole Chanel's Gerber Baby apple sauce—so they fight like sisters all the time.
They don't look like sisters, though. Bubbles is very light-skinned, and she has a really nice, full shape. About the only running she likes to do is to the dinner table, or to a party. I wish I had a shape like hers, instead of mine, which looks like a boy's.
Chanel is more tan and flat-chested, like me, and really skinny, too. But because she's taller, it looks really cute on her. She's kinda like a Mexican jumping bean. She'll eat Chub Chub candies all day on the run, and keep jumpin'.
Anyhow, the reason why we're out here panting like puppies is not to lose weight. It's because Dorothea is putting us through this whole "divettes-in-training camp" thing, so we can become a legit girl group, like the Supremes or the Spice Rack Girls. That means we have to do what she says:
* We have to run five miles, at least once a week, to build up our endurance and lung power. This way, we'll be able to sing in big stadiums, and travel on the road without getting sore throats all the time.
* We have to take vocal lessons and dance classes.
* We have to watch old videos. Once a month, we have "Seventies Appreciation Night," which means we all get together over at Bubbles's house, and watch old videos of groups and movies with peeps in mad funny outfits.
* We have to develop other skills so we don't end up on the "chitlin' circuit." That's where singers go who don't even have a bucket to put their duckets in. They end up performing for no pay—they just pass a hat around for tips!
* We have to do our homework in school, read magazines, and dress dope, like divettes with duckets.
Chanel's mother, Juanita, has volunteered to run with us, but she is in better shape than we are and she just runs way ahead by herself. Since she's a grown-up, we don't mind. Because she is running ahead of us, she won't see us making faces, whining, giggling, and snapping on the peeps as we pass them by. Right now, though, we're too tired to even snap on a squirrel.
Juanita looks kinda funny from the back when she's running, because the bottom of her feet come up fast, like hooves on a horse, and her ponytail keeps bouncing up and down. She's kinda tall and skinny for a lady her age. See, she used to be a model, just like Dorothea (but she exercises like the Road Runner). Every now and then she looks back to ask us, "You girls all right?"
Poor Bubbles's mouth is hanging open, and she looks kinda mad, but she never gives up on anything. She just starts snapping. She sweats so much, though—there are droplets dripping down the side of her face, making her hair stick together like gooey sideburns!
The twins are kinda slow, too, but they don't complain a lot about running. Their minds are on other things.
"Do you really think the Sandman comes with a hook and pulls you off the stage if the audience boos you?" Anginette whines, running alongside me.
The Sandman at the Apollo Theatre is supposed to be this guy dressed like a scarecrow, with a big hook or something, who chases Amateur Hour contestants off the stage if they're wack.
"You sure he ain't like Jason from Friday the 13th?" Aquanette asks, chuckling nervously. Aqua and Angie are Scream queens. They love to watch horror movies with people getting their eyes poked out.
"I don't know, Angie," I say, panting, "but if the audience even looks like they're gonna start booing, then I'm gonna bounce, before the Sandman tries to hook us!"
"Oh, no, that is too wack-a-doodle-do! And it's not gonna happen," Bubbles says, smiling again. "We're gonna be in there like swimwear."
Galleria always makes us feel better. That's why she's Cheetah number one. Anything goes wrong, and we all look to her, just naturally. She's not takin' any shorts.
We are running in Central Park now, and suddenly, a funny-looking guy with a silver thing on his head zooms by on his bicycle, and almost runs down Aquanette. "Dag on, he almost knocked me over," yells Aqua, looking back at him as he rides away.
The twins are not used to the ways of the Big Apple, or how fast everybody moves here. They say everybody moves a lot slower in Houston, which is where they grew up—in a big house with a porch and everything in the suburbs.
"Beam me up, Scottie, you wack-a-doodle helmet head!" Galleria yells back at the guy on the bike, then gasps for breath. She sticks up for us a lot, because she isn't afraid of anybody.
"Y'all, there are a lot of crazy people here," Anginette chimes in.
"Helmet Head probably woulda knocked her over if nobody was looking!" Bubbles says.
"I wonder if that was a strainer on his head," Chanel says, giggling.
"And what were those funny-looking antenna things sticking up?" I giggle back.
"Come on, you lazy muchachas!" Juanita yells back at us, waving for us to follow her.
I don't know how long we've been running, but I am so grateful when we finally reach the park exit at 110th Street.
"Thank gooseness," Galleria yelps, as we stop by the benches where Juanita is waiting for us impatiently, her hands on her hips. Bubbles bends over and is panting heavily, holding on to her knees. Her hair is so wild it's flopping all over the place like a mop.
This is where I get off, I think with a sad sigh. I wish I could invite my crew over to my house for some "Snapple and snaps." After all, I only live six blocks from here. But after seeing where they all live, I'm too embarrassed to let them see my home.
I live with my foster mother, Mrs. Bosco, her husband, Mr. Bosco, and about nine or ten foster brothers and sisters—depending on which day you ask me. We all share an apartment in the Cornwall Projects. We keep it clean, but still, it's real small and crowded. It needs some fixing up by the landlord, too—if you know what I'm sayin'.
It bothers me a lot to be a foster child but Mrs. Bosco is a pretty nice lady, even though she's not really my mom or anything—but now, I'm hanging with my new crew, and all of them have such nice houses, and real families....
"Ms. Simmons, can't we at least walk to our house from here?" Angie asks, whining to Juanita.
Since I never invite anybody over, the next stop on this gravy train is the twins' house on 96th Street. Angie and Aqua live with their father in a nice apartment that faces Riverside Park. My apartment faces the stupid post office.
"Okay, lazy," Juanita huffs back.
"Well," I say, "bye, everybody."
Chanel puts her sweaty arms around me to kiss me good-bye.
"Ugh, Chanel!" I wince.
"Do' Re Mi, can't you see I love you!" she giggles back, kissing me on cheek and making silly noises. Then Chanel whispers in my ear, laying on the Spanish accent, "You know I was just playing wichoo. I know you can run as fast as me."
"Okay, Señorita, just get off me!" I giggle back. "Bye, Bubbles, and all you boo-boo heads!"
"Bye, Dorinda," Juanita says. Then she adds, "Don't stay up late, 'cuz we're going to bed early," giving me that look like "you better not be trying to hog the chat room on the Internet tonight."
See, Chanel's kinda grounded for life—until she pays back the money she charged on her mom's credit card last month. She's not supposed to be on the phone or the Internet, runnin' up more bills.
"See y'all tomorrow at school," I yell, then add, "not you two!" to Angie and Aqua. The twins don't go to Fashion Industries High, like me, Chanel, and Bubbles. They go to LaGuardia Performing Arts High School, which is even doper.
Maybe next year, me, Bubbles, and Chuchie can transfer to LaGuardia, so we can all be together....
You know, you have to audition to get into LaGuardia. Chanel was too chicken to audition last year, coming out of junior high—even though Bubbles wanted to go to LaGuardia in the worst way. But Bubbles didn't want to audition without Chuchie, so they didn't go. That's why they both wound up at Fashion Industries, which is lucky for me!
But now, who knows? Sure, auditioning is kinda scary, but now that we're the Cheetah Girls, we've got each other, and we've had some experience performing—so I know we can do it.
Besides, Bubbles says if the Cheetah Girls really take off, and our lives get too hectic, we'll have to get private tutors anyway. Private tutors! Wouldn't that be the dopest?
That's Bubbles for you, always planning ahead to "destination: jiggy jungle." That's the place, she says, where dreams really do come true—if you go for yours.
Listening to Bubbles, we all feel like we really can do anything we set our minds to.CHAPTER 2
I head uptown alone, on my way back to the apartment. Soon, my thoughts drift forward to next Saturday night.
What if the Sandman really does chase us off the stage? Or if somebody hits me on the head with a can of Burpy soda while I'm performing? Then I'll get a concussion ... and I won't be able to take care of Mrs. Bosco and all my brothers and sisters....
"Hey! Watch where you're goin', shorty!"
By the time I hear Can Man's warning, it's too late, 'cuz he's slammed his shopping cart filled with empty cans right into my back. I trip over a mound of rocks, and a thousand cans go flying everywhere.
"You watch where you're goin'!" I scream back at him. From my knees, I pick up a can and make like I'm gonna throw it at him.
Can Man is one of those people in New York who are out all day, collecting empty soda and beer cans, and returning them to places like the Piggly Wiggly supermarket around the corner for the deposit money.
In other words, he is a homeless man, but I think he is "sippin' more times than he is tippin'," because he screams a lot for no reason, and does wack things—like this.
"You better not take one of my cans, shorty!" Can Man yells. Now he is foaming at the mouth. His eyes are bugging too.
I drop the can and run. I don't even listen to the people who ask me if they can help. No, they can't help me!
Why does everything happen to me? My real mother gave me away. My first foster mother, Mrs. Parkay, gave me up when I was little, for no reason. And now, Can Man runs into me with his stupid shopping cart!
My ankle really hurts, and I sit down on somebody's front stoop to massage it.
Sometimes I get scared that I'm just gonna end up like a bag lady, and get married to Can Man or something. Who am I kidding? Maybe I'll never be anything! In fact, if it wasn't for my crew, I'd be just a wanna-be, I tell myself. Look at Bubbles and Chanel. You can tell they are born stars.
Me? Well, everybody says I can dance really good, and I guess I can sing okay But I'm never gonna be famous. In fact, when I'm alone, and not with the group, I'm really scared of performing—and especially auditioning.
Now my legs really hurt from running all those miles, and I think Can Man might've broken my left ankle! I'm so mad, I wanna punch somebody. Let somebody—anybody—be stupid enough to get in my way now! Fuming like a fire engine, I hobble, step by step on my one good foot, to my apartment building.
"Hi, Dorinda! How come you limping?" asks Pookie, who is sitting in the courtyard. See, there are a lot of buildings in the Cornwall Projects, but only two of them have a courtyard, so all the kids hang out here.
Pookie is sitting with his mom, Ms. Keisha, and his sister, Walkie-talkie Tamela. We call her that because she never shuts up.
"Heh, Pookie," I respond, huffing and puffing. "Can Man hit me with his cart and knocked me over."
"You know he's crazy. You better stay out of his way, Dorinda, before he really hurts you," mumbles Ms. Keisha.
"I know, Ms. Keisha, but I didn't see him because he was behind me. Is Mrs. Bosco home?"
"Yep," she says, nodding her head at me. See, Ms. Keisha is nosy, and she knows that we know she's nosy. She sits outside all day, with a head full of pink hair rollers and even pinker bedroom slippers, talking about people's business like she's Miss Clucky on the gossip show.
Not that her motormouth doesn't come in "handy dandy," as Bubbles would say. See, if you're in trouble, and you wanna know if you're gonna get it when you get upstairs, you just ask Ms. Keisha. She knows if your mother is home—and if she's mad at you.
The courtyard isn't much of a playground for all the kids who live here, but it's better than hanging out in front with the "good-for-nothings," as Mrs. Bosco calls the knuckleheads who hang around all day and don't go to school or to work.
Some of the people who live here try to make it look nice, too. Once somebody tried to plant a tree right in the cement, but it was gone the next morning. So now there are no trees—just a few po' little brown shrubs that look like nubs. And there aren't any slides, swings, or jungle gym to play on, either—just some big old "X" marks scribbled with chalk on the ground, for playing jumping jacks.
Excerpted from Who's 'Bout to Bounce? by Deborah Gregory. Copyright © 1999 Deborah Gregory. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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