When I was in high school we had gym class every day. That’s right, every single day of the week. I hated it with a passion. I used to pretend I had my period twice a month so I wouldn’t have to join in, and I hoped that the gym teacher, Miss Anderson, wouldn’t notice.
We had to wear short blue jumpsuits with elastic “bloomer” legs and I thought they were ridiculous. Then we had to play all sorts of games that I despised, including baseball, and worst of all volleyball. I was always afraid of injuring my hands and not being able to play the piano.
But the worst things of all in gym were tumbling and jumping over the vaulting horse. I didn’t like doing somersaults because they made me dizzy, and I was too short to pull myself up on the horse. The parallel bars were almost as bad.
We had to spend an hour every day doing this stuff, and then after we were all sweaty and smelly we’d be rushed into the gang shower. What high school girl isn’t self-conscious about her body? Well, I was short and scrawny. I couldn’t see anybody else because I was nearsighted, but I just knew they were all looking at me and snickering.
Poor Miss Anderson. She knew I hated gym and tried everything she could think of to get me interested in something…anything, but I never cooperated, and when she finally got the bright idea to turn me into a cheerleader, I actually burst out laughing. A CHEERLEADER? Me? My little intellectual friends and I always used to turn our noses up at cheerleaders, and she wanted me to BE one?
But here’s the thing: secretly I was fascinated the tough, tomboy girls who were really good at sports. I had absolutely nothing common with them, but I admired their strength and skill. Not that I would ever admit it to anyone, of course. I just kept walking around with a chip on my shoulder, which I’m sure didn’t completely hide the fact that I was just plain scared of most sports.
But Miss Anderson, bless her heart, just pretended that she didn’t notice I had my period twice a month, and always let me sit on the sidelines without a word.