Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm Running As Fast As I Can

Yesterday on my way to meet my husband for lunch, I passed an elementary school during what must have been gym class. I'm guessing it was gym class by the kids jogging together around the school yard. Dressed in a colorful array of t-shirts, shorts and sweats, they trudged along following each other while a male gym teacher held a clipboard observing them.

The sight brought back depressing memories of horrible years of forced Phys Ed. I know, that schools need to include an hour of physical education every other day because without it, some children may never move a muscle. I get that and I support it. It's just that I remember hating it with a passion. I always hated the butchy, bitchy gym teachers. Oh how I despised them, each and every one of those military like a-holes.

I hated changing out of my clothes in the middle of the day. I hated lacing up my sneakers. I'd break a sweat simply in those few moments it took to disrobe. I hated how in grammar school, the gym teachers would allow the kids to pick team members themselves. I was always picked last. My mother was a teacher and would write letters and send Xeroxed articles about how this would reflect negatively on a kid's self esteem and the feelings would remain with them for years to come. Her efforts were to no avail. Until graduating eight grade, I was picked last. Even if my BFF was selected as team captain, I was still chosen last because she would surely have some idiot yelling in her ear, "Pick David!" or "Pick Kathy S." and "Eddie! Pick Eddie! We need Eddie!"

High school was equally shitty. Oh how I hated Ms. Wagner with her short, stocky body stuffed into tight white shorts and a blue polo shirt. Her plastic looking man 'do coupled with "her" deep voice, made me wanna puke. I loathed the mere sight of her and hated Phys Ed with a passion. And there was no way out. If you strategically forgot your clothes, it counted against your grade. Without a passing grade in gym, you were in danger when it came to graduating.

Oh the memories I have of that awful class. The effin Presidential Fitness Exam which I failed religiously each and every damn year. Running that stupid one mile in ten minutes or whatever regulation set forth by the US government. One year, I actually passed out on the track and was escorted to the nurse's office. I had suffered an asthma attack and couldn't breathe. Oh joy! At least I got to go home early.

Then who could forget the trimester where I actually failed volleyball. My mother inquired with the lovely Ms. Wagner as to how one actually receives an "F" in gym class. It turned out I failed the one quiz given each trimester on the activity assigned. Be it "Dodge Ball, Acquiring The Mandatory Skills Needed To Stay Alive" or "Badminton, The Adventure Behind The Racket," they all sucked with their multiple choice answers and fill-in-the-blanks.

In order to make up for the failed volleyball grade, I was given special permission to study one-on-one with a new gym teacher. Though I can't recall her name, I remember her short curly blond hair and deep alto voice telling me to hustle. The two of us would practice basketball every other day during my lunch period and if she was satisfied with my attitude and demonstrated skill set, the "F" would be lifted and I would indeed graduate high school.

So after sweating it out at lunch for what seemed like an eternity, I was granted a
"B" and on my way to finishing high school. The funny thing is I think after all of that, I was then put into "Adapted Gym." Adapted Gym was basically Phys Ed for the physically inept and it was great! I was finally amongst other chubbers or kindhearted nerds who preferred spending their time in the science lab rather than on a track or ball court. We bonded on loathing jocks and sweat socks. Together, we lifted weights at our own pace and weren't pushed beyond our limits. It was heaven for the physically challenged.

Seeing those kids running around that school yard yesterday really bummed me out. From behind the wheel of my car, I watched sadly as the chubbiest boy tried his best to keep up with his classmates. I knew just how much he must have hated every second of that painful 45 minutes. I wanted to leap from my car and rescue him. Maybe whisk him off for a frozen yogurt and tell him to get it together now before it's too late. I'd warn him about what lies ahead in high school and how even college has dumb physical education requirements.


dina said...

"The sight brought back depressing memories of horrible years of forced Phys Ed."

Oh god, you're taking me back to gym hell. Adapted phys ed!? This is brilliant. I would have taken this class in a heartbeat.

I was always picked for teams AFTER the retarded kids.

One day on lunch in 4th grade I donated my lunch box to be used as first base for the kickball game that was in progress. Killing 2 birds with one stone - winning a few points with the sporty kids, and ditching my Holly Hobby lunch box that I was too old for and later pretended not to know what happened to.

I still remember the living hell that was HS volleyball. A team of all black girls and me, and them hollering things like "Put her in the back! No... put her in the front... aw, what the hell wrong wit you, can't you hit the damn ball?"

Yes, phys ed is pure misery. I wish I could have had gym with you and the kindly nerds. Maybe I would have been less scarred, as your mother aptly pointed out.

Thanks for the laughs, Ally!

Ally said...

That's great Dina! I love it! Thanks for sharing!


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