Initially the distaff Miller's journey from her reserved hometown on the rim of the desert to the inner-city campus appeared fraught with shadows. All her short and happy life Cheryl had been fairly well insulated. She had been closely guarded by her father, who didn't permit unsupervised dating until she was a high school senior. Outside of basketball she had few friends of her own race. "Socially on a scale of 10, I was a two," Miller says. Her Little House on the Prairie wardrobe didn't help her fit in any more readily at USC. "Cheryl didn't learn how to be black until halfway through her freshman year," says a friend.
The sassy, sophisticated McGees, from Flint, Mich., by way of Ultra Sheen-At-The-Mall, showed the ropes to the naive kid. Makeup. Clothes. Parties. How to walk and talk. Men. After her first night out with the girls Miller returned to the dorm at 2 a.m. and was horrified that she had forgotten to make her nightly phone call home. This wasn't exactly Cybill Shepherd (USC '73, briefly) burning down fraternity row. "Girl, you're in college now," said the McGees, setting her straight.
In time, Miller learned that the proper reply to "How's it goin'?" was not "How is what going?" She discovered which day to hit the movies at the UV (University Village). "Wednesday," Miller says. "Ghetto night, when all the locals come wandering in to take advantage of the off-prices. It's great if you're lucky enough not to have to sit watching Friday the 13th next to a wino choking his guts out on a bag of greasy chicken."
Miller once even emerged victorious in the dress-off the USC women stage on game nights, when they sashay from the locker room, killer outfits at the ready just in case Philip Michael Thomas is lurking somewhere in his Armani jacket.
Teenage Confessions Dept.: On her first date in college an upperclassman took Miller to a movie, whereupon she was accosted by so many autograph seekers in the ticket line that her date turned around and took Miller back to her dorm. Upper-class gallantry? "Naw, he was PO'd," Miller says. "I liked signing the autographs."
Subsequently, basketball groupies of both sexes at Stanford and Georgia have pounded on the locker-room door seeking audiences with Miller, and once a kid showed up at her dorm room back at USC bearing flowers. Alas, he was a semidork. Oh well. In Miller's video-inspired experiences that's just another case of Pop Life.
Given a choice, Miller would rather hang around with the likes of Reggie Theus, over whom she is still agog after a meeting at a charity tennis tournament, or—excuuuuse me—Eric Dicker-son. Miller's former USC teammate Juliette Robinson, who is married to Rams center Tony Slaton, offered to fix her up with Dickerson on a double date, but a nervous Miller backed off.
Recently this glamorous international knockout celebrity, who has made her name by invading a guy's game and trashing just about every shibboleth known to the species, asked an older veteran of the love wars, "How do you know if a guy likes you?"
Hey, Cheryl Miller, you wild thing, you: Time to get to work.
In the meantime, here's a hint. It wouldn't hurt to ask him. That is, if the girl hasn't taken the guy to the hole and stuffed his mug beforehand.