Note: This is a long post, so I’ve broken it into two riveting parts for your reading convenience. I’d also like to give a special shout-out to my homie R in Rockville. Carry on.
It is surprising to me that this blog has not yet touched on my athletic prowess. Then again, that’s probably because I have none. My past attempts at physical fitness have been marked by humiliation, injury and unintended comedic relief.
I probably don’t need to tell you the point at which I was picked for any “team” in third grade, but I will: never. I am not above admitting that on more than one occasion, I had to be the teacher’s partner, and on those occasions, even the teacher wasn’t too happy about it. But every buck-toothed eight-year-old has her breaking point (literally), and one day, I vowed that things were going to change: I would lead my kickball team to victory. And I would do it in a skirt and Buster Brown shoes that had a habit of coming untied mid-step.
I geared up for my moment of glory all morning, and finally, the time came. A boy named Whitney kicked the ball with the force of a nuclear bomb. Normally, I would have run for my life in the opposite direction, but this time, I ran TOWARD it as fast as I could. I would be the hero! I would be popular! I would … trip on the blacktop, fall flat on my face and land on my front teeth, which in turn, would promptly snap in half. Ick – I still remember the horrible moment of impact. But the good news is that my upper central incisors still bear their original 1981 bonding. I’m a dental relic.
Cut to a gym class Frisbee game in high school. I thought I was making a valiant effort until the he-she teacher pulled me aside.
“Listen – I want you to cut out these shenanigans IMMEDIATELY or I’m giving you detention. You’re being completely disrespectful to me, and to the game of Frisbee.”
Whoa. Shenanigans?! That was a LOW blow. A girl of my ilk and GPA did not engage in “shenanigans.” And far be it from me to dis Frisbee. WTF?
It took me a minute to realize that I looked so palsied trying to throw and catch the Frisbee that she assumed I was being obnoxious. She simply couldn’t comprehend that anyone could be so uncoordinated.
Next up: the infamous Near-Drowning Incident of 1994. To graduate from my college, everyone had to pass a swim test. Don’t ask me why. I really do know how to swim, but have no stamina whatsoever. It never occurred to me that stamina would really come in handy in an Olympic-sized pool.
A week or two before graduation, I finally headed down to gym, envisioning a backyard-sized pool.
Hmm, I thought when I saw it. This pool looks freakishly long. Perhaps it’s an optical illusion of some sort?
It wasn’t. And about three-quarters into the first lap, I realized I was going to die.
Frick on a chlorine-treated stick.
I started to panic, and when I panic, I can’t breathe. Gasping, I gave up on my graceless breast stroke and tried to doggie paddle. The swim coach thought I was drowning and dove in to rescue me. This was not at all mortifying. Nor was the fact that at the same time, all of Zeta Beta Tau was in the pool taking a lifesaving class. I’ll spare you the details of what happened next, but suffice it to say that I do have a bachelor’s degree.
So you can sort of understand why sports have never been among my favorite pastimes. It’s not that I don’t WANT to buy expensive work-out clothes at Lululemon or sport the rock-hard ass of a gym junkie. And I do walk as much as I can. It’s just that I have a bad track record (no pun intended) in this realm and as a result am a fitness-phobe. I have always viewed this phobia as one of my greatest shortcomings and a huge hindrance to my social life. My friends play tennis, ski and go on bike rides together, but I can’t keep up. My boyfriends were cursed with an abnormally clumsy, sedentary companion. Not everyone is willing to take that on – it can be a real problem.
To be continued …