Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings.

While I was rummaging around in my summer clothes drawer, I pulled out a very wrinkled pair of shorts and had one of those 'makes-your-blood-run-cold' flashbacks to middle school gym class.  I assume it was because my gym shorts were the same color (red) and, much to the defeated efforts of my mother, my gym shorts were always wrinkled.  I loathed gym class.  The persistent squeaking of sneaker treads on varnished wood floors made my skin crawl, not to mention the smell and the endless echoes of shrieking girls.

But the worst part of gym class was our gym teacher.  Our first teacher (names of gym teachers are not remembered) was an attractive blond with short hair, determined jawline and developed muscles.  As far as gym teachers went, she wasn't too bad.  However, midway through 7th grade, she left under a cloud.  Her replacement seemed was so completely her opposite that it was awe-inspiring.  We referred to her as "The Toad".  Yes, we were typical mean tweenie girls.  She was about 4 feet 5 inches - in all directions.  She never washed her hair, or her person, it seemed.  Her clothing had food stains on it.  She had a croaky voice.  She despised us and the feeling was mutual.  There was no whining allowed, no excuses or absences.  We whined anyway, and shuffled through the routine, tried to shinny up the python-width rope with our skinny limbs, jogged in endless circles. staggered around with medicine balls, trying to knock each other over.  She croaked mean things at the clumsy, the overweight, the too-pretty girls, and the smarty-pants girl (guess who).  It was an hour of pure hell every week.  She finally left -- also left under a cloud (maybe a cloud of flies - sorry, but I still don't like her).  Her replacement was a young, fresh-out-of-college woman who loved us.  Suddenly, there was a lightness in our steps - we shinnied our little hearts out and sprinted everywhere.  But I still didn't like gym.

I wasn't all that coordinated (and it hasn't gotten better with age), but I was fearless.  I had very romanticised images of myself and had planned becoming a prima ballerina.  At that age and time, every girl I knew had ballet careers in mind.  However, when my mother took me to try out for ballet school (a local enterprise in someones basement), the instructor took my mother aside and said (loudly enough for me to hear), "I think you should find some other form of creative movement for your daughter.  She's...well...rather too uncoordinated for ballet."  I was completely crushed.  To my mother's credit, she searched out a tap dancing class for me and I was launched!  The class was held in an old movie theater and was taught by an old Vaudevillian guy.  His wife played the piano.  This was more like it!  I managed to dance my way through the ranks and, at the end of the season, performed a solo act to a packed audience (of 25).  I remember what I wore, and I remember most of the steps.  The smell of greasepaint was in my nose!  Then I discovered horses and all thoughts of Broadway vanished.  Girls can be so fickle.

And, speaking of girls, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA PEA!!! xoxoxo


  1. Oh, how I hated gym class. I had pretty bad asthma as a child so I was put in the "special" gym class. So although I got out of having to run the 3 miles in my Senior year of HS, I was stuck doing a bunch of boring things (NO running, or outdoor stuff when pollen was high or it was hot or if it was cold, etc.). And we still had to wear those ugly, too-short, navy blue gym shorts. Oh, and I had a sexist pig of a gym teacher my senior year also; sent to the dean's office on several occasions for telling him what I thought about him. Oh well. Thank god high school is over with!
    (PS - thanks for the memories, I'm going to be thinking about that pecker-head teacher all day now!!)

  2. CR - Amen to that! I suffered through high school in a constant state of angst. I am SO glad it's over. Now I have time to suffer through my sheep/goats/dogs/cats in a constant state of angst.

  3. If I had been a boy, I would have been a jock with a capital J. Loved gym class (we had no "sports" for girls to play then or teams females could join in that long ago day and age -- sigh) and was in "Leaders" my junior and senior year which just meant one "Leader" was assigned to each regular gym class and was the teacher's assistance.

    You'd think being athletically inclined I could control my body and dance. No so. Still can't. My mom enrolled me in tap dancing classes and the instructor repeatedly used me to show how NOT to do steps. Can you believe that? What kind of a numb-scull teacher would do that?? (Yes, I'm still bitter, why do you ask?)

    Thank you for the birt-day wishes, Sweezie! Even though I don't feel my chronological age, I don't like the sound of that big number anymore so I'm going to be ignoring the change each year from now on. ;o)

  4. It seems like everyone has bad gym teacher memories! In high-school, mine wasn't so bad... just awkward. In an all female school, our 60ish something male gym teacher was also our health/sex ed teacher. I would go from hearing him talk about football and basketball strategies in gym, to have him opening up the health class with saying, "Men are PIGS!"

    Very strange :)

  5. Birthday Girl, er, Mama Pea - I liked softball - we had two choices, softball and track - but my hand/eye coordination left me on the bench for the entire year. But, hotchacha, I could dance! I agree with you on the non-importance of chonology when it comes to birthdays. It's all about how we feel.

    Prairie Cat - I LOVE that! I am sure we had health class and they MAY have thrown in some sex ed, but I sure don't recall it.

  6. There must be a picture somewhere of you in your tap dancing recital costume. You must post!

  7. Happy Birthday, Mama Pea!!!!!

    I didn't have PE in middle school - it was up to our regular teachers to decide if they wanted to take us outside once in a while and they rarely did. I had to take 2 years of PE in HS though and don't have any fond memories. Having not had PE in younger years meant I didn't know how to do a lot of the games / sports the other girls did know how to do so though I wasn't uncoordinated, I was self conscious.

    Did anyone have a good PE experience???

  8. Happy birthday Mama Pea!! :)

    Nope, no happy PE memories here either! It is hard being uncoordinated...

  9. Isn't it strange when gym teachers are overweight? We had one too and she acted like that was the last place she wanted to be - makes one wonder how they decided on that career path LOL!

  10. Sylvie - If there is one, it is old, yellowed and curled at the edges. And in amongst about a billion others in the same condition. If I ever find it, I will post it.

    Jenyfer - It's so tough in the beginning of high school fitting in anyway, without more to be self-conscious about. I think most of us are glad we lived through the experience.

    Candy - And yet we still managed to have a happy, full life! Just goes to show you that PE is over-rated.

    Erin - Right? They must have been desperate!

  11. Ahahahahaha! I hated gym class too!