Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When Telling Lies Ruins Your Summer

As I mentioned before, I am a reformed exerciser.

Prior to a few years ago, I hated anything athletic.

I didn't even own tennis shoes until three years ago.

I despised them.

I hated wearing them.

And why should I wear them?

When I sported tennis shoes, I felt like it was false advertisement.

My shoes were telling lies.

I felt like people looked at me and thought, "She's sporty."


I wasn't.

I had a hurt back and my doctor made me wear tennis shoes.

For an athletic hater like myself, PE in junior high was like a recurring bad dream.

I can't flashback to that horrible time of my life too thoroughly or I start to feel sick to my stomach.

The smell of that locker room. Did they wash the uniforms in sweat?

The stupid lockers themselves.

My lady coaches and their mullets.

Spending all year debating with my friends if our lady coach was in fact a lady. You could argue either way. We were constantly looking at her from different angles trying to catch some glimpse of boobs. We were on constant look out for any change in the terrain.

It was not uncommon for a friend to walk by and say, in passing, "I saw coach from the side today and she was reaching up for some shirts on the top shelf...and I saw some things that may have been boobs."

And what about changing in front of everyone...

Doesn't that bring back fond memories?

Puberty unveiled.

Pure torture.


And let's not forget when they make you take off your shirt and bend over so that they can see if your spine is crooked. I told my coach I felt like Anne Frank. She wasn't impressed.

The coaches were looking for crooked backs.

The girls were looking to see which of their classmates needed real bras, no bras or training bras.

That day was particularly horrible because if you wore a bra, you could keep it on. If you didn't, then...well...

I was always jealous of the girls with real-life bras and their real-life need for one.

I was never one of those girls.

But on "Bend over and check your back" day I set my training bra aside and wore my mom's instead.

Imagine a boy wearing a bra...or wearing a bra on your back. That's what it looked like.

One of the poopiest parts of PE was that they make you get all hot and sweaty then give you a whole 6 minutes to morph yourself from athlete to student.

But, the all time worst thing about PE was...


Swimming at school?

Who wants to cry remembering this?

I always imagined the school board meeting.

Some man in a suit stands up and says...

"Everyone put on your thinking caps. We need ideas...ideas to make these gangly, hormone freaked out, pimply cheeked, braced faced students feel even worse about themselves."

Some lady at the table with yellow pencil buttons on her denim shirt raises her hand...

"Oh...I know. Let's make them swim."

Everyone groans with delight.

"And not just with children the same sex. Oh no. That would merely be awful. What would scar them for life would be...boys and girls swimming together."

Everyone at the table claps and straightens their devil horn headbands.



I hated swimming.

I hated other girls seeing me in a swim suit.

I always felt ugly and fat.

But the main reason I hated swimming was because after you swam, you still got 6 minutes to turn back into a normal looking person.

This was the late 80's/early 90's.

No one could get their hair dry and teased in 6 minutes.

No one.

I have always had high maintenance hair.

It does nothing good on its own.

Nothing good.

My hair requires a lot of attention.

It only has two modes.

Either it looks good because I spent a lot of time on it.

Or, it looks like I'm running for Ms. White Trash.

I only have two choices.

When you only have 3 minutes to give to your's a no-brainer. Just hand me my sash that says Ms. White Trash.

When we first started swimming, it was just us...just girls.

But one day, I walked out of the door from the locker room into the pool area and what did I see?


Boys in the pool.

Boys my age.

For a minute there I thought I was having a nightmare.

I wanted to melt into my towel.

That's when something brilliant hit me...

A way out...

A way to stick it to the man lady.

You see...I was not always a Baptist. I was raised Church of God. They believe girls and boys can't swim together. It's called mixed bathing.

That's a big no-no in that denomination.

So...I was raised Church of God, I knew the rule...but let me mention here that I spent every summer of my entire life at the public swimming pool in our town. I knew the rule, but that wasn't something our family thought was important, obviously, judging by our tan skin in the summers.

Once I saw the boys in the pool, I said to my friend, Jessica...

"I've got it. I can say I'm pentecostal and that it's against my religion to mix bathe."

Surprisingly, Jessica said, "I want to be pentecostal too."

So the two of us went up to the coach and said...

"We're pentecostal and it's against our religion to mix bathe with boys."

The coach didn't really know what to say, but holy cow...she believed us.

We got to leave the room...go put our gym clothes on...and then run laps in the gym.

We didn't really run laps though. We just walked.

What a victory...

We beat the system.

We found the way out.

My hair was still 4 ft. tall.

We were so proud of ourselves.

And besides, Jessica was Jehovah's Witness. I was giddy with excitement about all the things we could make up about that religion. Next year, when we got a new coach, I had already decided I was going to be Jehovah's Witness. "We can't's against our religion. We have to have 12 minutes to get ready and do our ceremonial getting ready routines or we will go to hell. You wouldn't want that coach." Oh..this was going to be great.

So that year...because we were pentecostal, instead of swimming almost every day, we only had to swim a couple times a week, when for some reason the boy class was not in the pool.


Until summer came.

My mom bought our pool passes.

It was time to set up residence at the public pool once again, getting tan, eating snow cones...

I walked in the first day, so excited about summer.

And who did I see?


She was working as a life guard at the pool that summer.

That day I learned two things...

1. Your sins will find you out.

2. And our coach really was a woman. I saw her in a bathing suit.

I want to hear your PE horror stories! I'm sure we all have them!


bighousetx said...

Oh my gosh, I totally remember that! That wretched feeling of being 5'10 in Jr. high and weighing about 100 lbs. I was like a stick with hair. Really big, 80's hair at that. It looked like I had glued a rainbow onto my forehead, and teased it for exageration. Butane curling irons and stiff stuff. Those were the days.

Oh, and when I didn't want to run the mile in under 8 minutes I would just fake cramps. Seriously, how many times a month can you have your period? How did they not catch that? They were women right? Oh, I saw Coach Blue at the baseball field, and she has a son, so I am pretty sure that makes her a woman, but I never really doubted the likelihood of that since she had jsut about the biggest gazoongas I had ever seen.

Leslie Moore said...

I was not athletic either. I played basketball my freshman year in high school and then decided it was more fun to not sweat, to look cute and keep stats for the team instead of playing.

In elementary school, I HATED P.E. We had an old football coach who was extremely over weight and made us have "Heart Days" that were supposed to improve out cardiovascular health. He drank Dr. Peppers and ate Snickers bars while we ran endless laps around the track. Not fair.

This same coach also made us play soccer. I hated soccer. No one ever gave me the ball and I couldn't (and didn't want to) run fast enough to get it myself. Plus the boys were obnoxious and didn't want to share. So I staged a rebellion. I and several other of my girfriends just sat down in the middle of the "soccer" field one day and started yelling "We hate soccer, we hate soccer, down with soccer!" Needless to say, we all got a good talkin' to and had to stand with our noses against the wall for the next couple of P.E. classes. I didn't complain; it meant I didn't have to play soccer!

In high school dated this coach's son. This coach was also the driver's ed teacher (yes, I'm from a small town) and he always made me back out of their driveway and park straighter every time I went to their house.

Hendrick Family said...

Oh Kristen...

I love you.

I laughed so hard reading that. doubt...a woman...the most womanly woman of all.

But what were the names of the black haired coach and the blonde hair coach. One had a straight mullet and the other one had a curly mullet.


I am about to lose my mind trying to remember their names!

Were you on the C team with me?


bekah said...

The setting- mid 90's middle school PE in South Texas
the style- nasty grey POLYESTER shorts and Polyester T-shirts. These should be illegal!!!

I was not athletic. I was the BIGGEST space cadet in the HISTORY of the world.

There were approximately 40 girls in Athletics and we tried out for 3 sports, voleyball, basketball and track.
Everyone got to "try-out." 36 people would make the team.

So lets do some subtraction 40-36= 4 leftover people.

Guess who NEVER made any of the teams?

Yeah. me. And so I was ALWAYS in the "off-season" group.

Off-season is code for LOSER.

So what did the "losers" do in off season?

We pantsed each other.

I don't know why. But everytime the PE teacher left the non-volleyball players and the losers for a second, we would run around pulling down each - others shorts.

Because changing in front of each other was NOT awkward enough.

So needless to say I never learned how to play volleyball.

Hendrick Family said...

I felt every word you wrote, Bekah!


Who thought up P.E.?

I think it's Hitler's earliest work.


Randy & Rachel said...

Ok, I just have to say I love reading your blog. I've been following it for a while and think I've commented before, but I can't really remember! ha ha ha!

I just had to weigh in on your PE stories. We always had athletics the 1st or 2nd hour of the day. Seriously, who makes girls do that? When the boys get to have it 7th hour? Anyways, my funniest memory about athletics is being in 6th grade and playing volleyball. We had to drive 3 hours to find a school our size (really small school) who played volleyball. I got to play for about 5 mins and in those 5 mins i proceded to get hit in the face making my nose swell up twice its size. Horrible!

Angie said...

Not PE related, but the spine check/bra story reminded me of this...

5th grade. Just started wearing a sports bra (maybe a "training bra", humiliating either way.)

So I'm sitting in class and this bra is KILLING ME. I somehow manage to take it off IN CLASS, without losing any of my other important garments, and just have the wretched thing in my lap.

Then, naturally, I forget that the bra is no longer on me, and instead in my lap...and I get up to walk across the classroom, it falls on the floor. The worst part is I didn't even realize it fell until I was walking back to my desk.

I have no idea who saw me run across the room to fetch my bra from the floor of my 5th grade classroom that day...but that was an awful feeling... hahahaaaaaa

Valerie said...

Well, I have no P.E. horror stories because in Mississippi they don't value physical health or exercise and you don't have to take it and when you do take it I think it's like glorified study hall . That's probably the reason why Mississippi has the highest percentage of overweight people and bad heart health. So no horror stories for me.

Jeanie said...

In middle school I was about 5' and weighed 65lbs. That was when having some meat on your bones was in. (I'm always off on my timing.) So I looked 8 and the standard uniform did not fit. And that "A" cup that was a big deal in 4th grade was now a joke.

I loved sports and wanted to be a great athlete, but it was not in the cards. I kept trying despite the fact that I was clumsy and too little to compete.

I should have been really self conscious, but I wasn't. Thanks Mom for making me feel that being awkward was okay and temporary.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!! I was sitting here laughing and laughing!! This was just what I needed this morning!

O.K., I never took P.E. because:
1) they didn't have P.E. in elementary school until after I had moved on to jr. high
2) once I reached a grade where they did P.E., I was in basketball and band, so that left no time for P.E. They counted basketball as my P.E.

I have also never heard of "bend over and check your back" day! ha!! I was screaming with laughter over that one. That would be a nightmare! My back just may have an undiagnosed curve to it, but at least my pride is in tact!

Now, I did have horror experiences in basketball that are just like your p.e. stories:
- Our coach was a lesbian, so all of us would hurry and shower and dress before she came in the locker room, if at all possible. (by the way, when I went to my 20 year reunion, we met at the pool one day and guess who was the lifeguard? Yep. My coach.)
- While I was the SECOND one in elementary school to go through full-blown puberty (end of 5th grade), and one of the first to wear a bra in 4th grade (I wore the same red jacket every single day to cover any hint of a bra - even if it was 100 degrees), yes while I was early to begin stopped there! I was mortified to change in the locker room because it was like God hit the pause button on my development! ARGH.
- I'm from a small town, so I didn't even know at that time that some schools had a pool! My dad was the manager of the city pool every summer, though, so I was quite comfortable parading around in a swimsuit, unfortunately. That has NOT translated into comfort as an adult. I feel NOW like you felt THEN about wearing a swimsuit in front of anyone, girls or boys! And I still think God has not un-paused my development....
- And last but not least, high school basketball was when I was first introduced to male anatomy. We had to watch a film (back in the filmstrip days) about STD's and I was mortified to see a male body part flash up there with some horrid disease in bloom. I wanted to throw up. I was like, "God, really? Is that really what it looks like? You didn't have a better plan?" ha!!!! Isn't that so sad and funny at the same time??

I also relate to the 6 minutes to do your 80's hair thing. We had marching band practice before school every day in the fall, so we all wore our hot rollers the whole time we marched. We'd rush in, yank the rollers out, and the brushes and hairspray would fly! I'm surprised we don't all have lung cancer or something from the fog of hairspray in that bathroom each morning.

Good times.


bighousetx said...

Coach Morrow, and Coach Bezdek. Yes, I will never forget those names.

C Team rules......holler! Yeah, I think I was the one running away from the volleyball, I was afraid I might get hit in the gigantic rainbow hair, or the spleen.

Rachel said...

"Bend over and check your back day" was so humiliating because I had to ask my mom for a training bra specifically for that day, since I didn't need one otherwise.

The worst part was that the nurses (not coaches at our school) held me back and made me stay while all the nurses and volunteers checked me together, while the rest of my class waited on me in the hall. Turns out I had really severe scoliosis that no one had noticed. Three years, a ridiculous back brace and then corrective surgery later, I was able to stand straight and run without my hips and legs killing me.

pbmciver said...

Oh do I have a horror P.E. story - It was junior high - just when us girls really cared about how we looked too. Did any of ya'll have to wear that awful one piece gym suit? It was the most ugly piece of clothing I ever saw. You put your feet in first, then your arms and then snapped up the front and there were lots of snaps. And, the legs puffed out somewhat like cream puffs (which sounds really good right now by the way, lol) so ya really looked stupid. Boy was I glad when I finally got to the high school where I could where the shirt and shorts. What is sad after I got to high school the junior high went to shirt and shorts - just my luck!

Mary said...

we only got 6 min in the locker room too, but I was in Junior High in the late 90's so pony tails and curly hair were in. all you had to do was get a perm...get some moose, and throw it up with a rubber band. (unless you had the Jennifer Aniston cut...and in that case you also hada note to get you out of PE) and we would all take turns going into the bathroom stalls to change i successfully avoided Junior high locker room horror. that all changed in highschool though when my locker room was a converted boys locker room...that means a community shower...not curtains...just one big room with lots of shower heads. TERRIBLE! who thought that was a good idea? but, being the not saved evil genius that i was, i solved this problem by stealing a book of passes from my study hall teacher and writing tardy passes for my whole team every day the entire fall semester...that way we could take turns using the huge, multi shower head at a time. oh highschool...