October 01, 2014

Let's start this off with a bang

My middle school was pretty wimpy. All one hallway and six portables of it.

Its miniature gym was perfect for one court's worth of volleyball. It was also the ideal size for less-than-fit Dr. Lindsay to heave hulking teammates to safety while ducking dodgeballs.

As a way to compensate for our gym's shrimpy size, my school instated a community PE program where we spent time goofing off learning sports and stuff in local recreation centres. For a couple of weeks, we hung out at a local gymnastics studio.

The more athletically inclined kids in my class wowed the masses with flips, back handsprings and various other tricky body things. Others, like me, evoked awe by somersaulting in a straight line or shimmying ourselves off the side of the trampoline without getting our shorts – or worse, our skin – caught in one of the springs.

The gym was owned by an older couple with matching coke bottle glasses and Dorothy Hamill haircuts. Even at 14, I couldn't quite wrap my head around the "he" in that relationship, with his slightly stained white tank top straining to cover his paunchy midsection. Was he a gymnast? I couldn't tell. He fired out directions like he knew what he was talking about. Whatever the case, they knew more than I did so I listened to and obeyed everything they said.

In an effort to teach us new things, we were shuttled through various stations during our time at the gym. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't escape the handstand one.

I usually tried to kill time by cracking jokes or striking up conversations until it was time to switch stations. Everyone else seemed to drop their hands on the floor and kick their legs up into effortless handstands. Me? After flinging my legs up, I would lose my balance and drop onto the floor, a crumpled heap of gangly limbs.

One day, Mrs. Gymnastic Gym – the half of the coke-bottle-Dorothy-Hamill couple with lady parts – took pity on me and declared me as her next project, offering encouraging epithets like, "It's easy!" and "Everyone else can do it. Why can't you?"

A quick burst of fear shot through me. My nervousness combusted into giggles when I looked into her eyes. She didn't crack a smile.

At her command, I started with a headstand. I rested top of my head rested on the ground, anchored by the limp noodles that the Lord blessed me with for arms. Cranky coke-bottle Dorothy barked a steady string of instructions, ending with, "When I say go, kick your feet into the air."


Mustering up all my courage, I closed my eyes and enthusiastically thrust my feet up into the air. But they never hit the mat they were meant to lean on. That's right. There was a giant mat I could basically lean my legs on to make this hand/head/whatever-stand happen. 

Instead they hit her in the face. I kicked Mrs. Coke-bottle Dorothy in the face. Right in the nose.

She immediately ran off, holding her face in her hands. I resumed my usual crumpled position on the ground while Mr. Dorothy came to investigate.

He started yelling and didn't stop until the entire room fell silent. I didn't entirely understand why. When he stopped to take a breath, I filled the silence by apologizing profusely. And I got as close to Mrs. C-B-D as she would let me to launch a steady stream of "I'm sorry" and "Are you okay?" in her direction. I felt terrible. And mortified.

But I felt less bad when I caught my gym teacher suppressing a smirk.

In the end, after many more apologies, I stopped feeling so bad. After all, it wasn't entirely my fault. If you're going to tell someone to kick their feet into the air, then you should probably be smart enough to guard your face.


  1. The glorious blog is back. IT'S BACK!! My life is complete again. Oh thank the good Lord!
    Excellent first story. I burst out laughing in my office. Good thing my door was closed today so I could focus on work. Although maybe my hall mates (yes. hall mates. not cellmates. hall mates) think the laughter is because of a nervous breakdown.
    Well done. WELL DONE!
    And extra good on ya for starting up October 1. :)

  2. Cheryl W10/02/2014

    Revenge of the gangly limbs! :)

  3. Yes, Cheryl. EXACTLY! I didn't realize how much strength was hidden in those wimpy legs.


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