Friday, September 03, 2010

Phy Ed

Me and Physical Education had quite the relationship during my school days. One of my earliest joys was playing kickball in grade school, though I was often picked last (or close to last). One afternoon, I asked a guy in the grade above me if I could join in. He said I could, but that if I flew out, I was off the team. Wonder of wonders, I popped it up and was outta there. And, of course, there was the time that I REALLY popped it up. Click here if you're not familiar with the story.

Some of my classmates could really make it sail, so much so that the outfielders would have to go down a steep decline that went into a creek. It was quite dangerous when I look back on it, but, hey, it was the 80's. The janitor, Les Schmoker, could be seen every few days on the roof of the school throwing down rubber balls that had "unintentionally" been kicked up there.

In the 6th grade, I was able to join an exclusive club of guys who played football off to the side in the school's driveway. Two of them were Jason and Russell Speltz. They were really into sports and it felt good to be able to play with them. It certainly helped my self-esteem having been a bit of a loner the years before in no small part because of my shyness. One afternoon, while playing, I saw my mom tending the garden in our backyard; our house was located across the street and a few houses over.

On a lazy summer evening, I was playing football in our backyard with David Rinn when an older fellow named Tom Jacobi who had been bullying me passed by on his bike. My dad, aware of the situation, managed to get him to stop and told him to cease doing these things to his progeny. Tom appeared to take it well, but when he was about 30 feet away on his bike, he loudly said: "Fucker!!" My dad yelled, "Come back here and say that, Big Boy!" He was PO'd at being swore at by a snot-nosed high school kid. I found out later that Tom got in serious trouble with his mother for all the mischief he caused. I only wish that he was on Facebook so that we could have a laugh over the long-ago incident.

I was in for a rude awakening in 7th grade. We were required to wear a gym uniform (T-shirt and shorts). What's worse is that men were compelled to wear a cup. I was full of anxiety as I put the cup on followed by the uni. We walked a few blocks to the closest park where I saw an old friend from 1st grade named Shelly Smith (I'm really dropping the names here, aren't I?). The reason I remember this is because at the time we were all sitting in a circle doing stretches. I became self-conscious as I realized that some of the girls could see my cup. I resolved that day to never again wear one.

Another uncomfortable aspect of junior high Phy Ed occurred shortly thereafter as we hit the showers. Me and one of the Farrell twins were looking to get out of doing so, but an instructor said that we must do so. With our "tails" between our legs, we did as we were told. I didn't even really soap myself off, I was so self-conscious. My mindset wasn't helped by the guy who seemed to glance at every guy's dick as he threw a towel at them.

Still more trauma was experienced during the two weeks we had swimming. It wasn't so much that I didn't know how to swim, but that I had to wear what amounted to a pair of Speedo trunks.

I was all too eager to get into the pool so that others wouldn't be able to see my all-but-bare 13-year-old body. One morning, as I sat at the toilet at home, I cursed the fact that of the seven days of the week it could be, it just happened to be one of the two in which I would have to "swim".

My last year of Phy Ed was 10th grade; it wasn't required in 11th or 12th. One sunny day, they had us run around the smaller portion of Lake Winona (it's pictured below with the school behind it).

I was surprised at how much I put into it, doing my best to keep up with some of the stronger and more fit guys on the team. The coach, Mr. Kendrick, was so impressed that he asked if I'd be interested in joining the track team. I said I'd consider it, but later declined; one of the things I didn't like about running was how out of breath it made a person.

College required that we take just two Phy Ed classes. The first I opted for was Personal Fitness. I was suprised that first day when Mr. Gunnar said that we only needed to attend that first class if we covered a certain amount of ground in 10 minutes. We couldn't run, though, it had to be walking; walking fast was fine. Excited at the possibility of getting an easy A, I walked with alacrity. I felt sorry for some of the chunkier girls. It appeared that they'd be seeing Mr. Gunnar weekly for the next couple months. This other lady was able to finish ahead of me, but I was close behind.

A couple years later, I took Bowling. Also taught by Gunnar, there was no option that if you scored over 150 that first day, you'd be scot-free for the rest of the quarter. I'm kind of glad that wasn't the case, however, as I had a great time bowling with my classmates. Cups and showers seemed a lifetime ago as I rolled that ball down the lanes that Winona State had in the Student Union area.

We got out of one of the classes because Gunnar's mom died and another because he just didn't show up; his woman probably ditched him. I polished a split one morning and was beaming as Gunnar saw it and said, "Great shot!" The last day, we did a written test on the basics of the game which I had no problem with. I confess to being a tad melancholic as I left the alley that day.


Anonymous said...

I feel a little melancholic myself just now. There's nothing wrong with wearing a cup, though...wear it with pride, it has saved men a lot of anguish over the years!

ExtraO said...

There is something so refreshing about you, Thomas. I'm really glad I found your blog. :-)

Narkissos said...

I woz kinda like you....despite my strong masculine side....hated phys ed....woz only good at volley ball, karate and biking....actually once fay became team leader of the girls' team....guess it woz in my 6th form...and always came 1st in mountain biking.....surprise surprise....:)

Thomas said...

Sorry to hear you were a bit down, Anon. I'm sure it's passed by now.

Extra, thank you! That really means a lot. My next post will be about the first time I visited Las Vegas, after that, my second job out of high school, working at a factory.

Fay, that's interesting. I could never go to a karate class; I have an issue with being exposed to strangers' bare feet.

Narkissos said...

interesting observation tom....took me 6 yrs to earn the black belt...but never thought about "being exposed to strangers' bare feet"....:)
also tom and anon:
there are millions of people starving....dying of deadly diseases, children are being born with aids, children are being abused, innocent animals are being abused and killed, countries are at war for no apparent reason, people are losing their loved ones.....and you guyz are melancholic of wearing cups!? don't wanna sound rude....but plz, gimme a break!

Anonymous said...

self concious about wearing a cup? i guess you would have felt more comfortable with your nuts hanging out maybe?

Narkissos said...

are talking to me anon?
don't have any clue about hanging nuts....but you sound a lot like a pathetic pussy fay used to know with his dick hanging out...flirts with everyone who has a vagina....irrespective of age, look, and woteva...he's scared to death of his wench, he calls wife....a gutless coward...hahaha.....

Phats said...

So I was going back reading some of your old posts, I like this one because I liked pe in school! Brought back great memories of kickball!!

I remember that first year you're required to shower being nervous as well. Although i loved the swimming, always thought that was fun. It was the running I did my best but usually failed to get out of haha.

College I didn't have to take PE, I was on the Purdue cheer squad that counted as our PE credits, although I did try to get out of running for our conditioning there too no such luck. Cool post!