These days, however, I'm a fitness freak. I actually like doing aerobics, step, Body Pump, Zumba, Batuka, and pretty much any other group fitness activity you can throw at me. And when there aren't any classes, I hit the gym.
But it wasn't always that way.
|Nerd Girl in the middle, sporting a poncho. Ponchos were the thang back then. They were bad! And I mean "bad" in a seventies sort of way, you know, cool.|
|Can you find me?|
The whole thing gave her nightmares, and even the mere mention of team sports struck terror into her heart. But there was no avoiding the daily torture hour for Nerd Girl. She envied the kids who were lucky enough to break an arm and who were allowed to sit on the sidelines, where they had a field day laughing at all the clumsy kids
But no, Nerd Girl was perfectly healthy and deemed fit to participate in every last activity. And participate she did. Against her will, and as little as possible, but she was out there...heroically taking the blame any time her team would lose, which was most of the time.
Kickball was the worst. She hated that game above all others. But would patiently stand in her assigned spot every day, as far out in outer field as the team captain could send her without actually sending her off the school grounds, hoping no one would notice her until the game was over (a wish fervently shared by the team captain). She would sing to herself to pass the time, after all, no one could hear her out there. And if a stray ball ever came her way, she did her best to avoid it, ignoring all the shouting from her teammates, telling her to "Catch the damn ball already!"
This went on for what, to Nerd Girl, seemed like forever. Until the day she discovered she could slip out of line and off into the restroom, as the rest of the class was herded off to their daily "building of body and character". There, she would hide out in a cubicle until the danger had passed, and then she would just hang out, counting the spit balls on the ceiling, until the bell rang and she could safely rejoin the group and pretend nothing had ever happened.
This is not to say she didn't get any exercise at all.
No, Nerd Girl would often enjoy a good romp around the playground, trying to catch the boys, who for some reason were very afraid of catching the girls' "cooties". Never mind that no one had ever seen a "cootie" or had any idea of what they might be. All they knew is that they were bad, very bad, and now I'm not talking seventies bad, which was good. Cooties were bad, in the universally negative sense of the word. And you definitely did not want to catch the ones belonging to the opposite sex, lest the meeting of boy cooties and girl cooties cause them to cancel each other out, making you disappear in a puff of smoke, or worse yet, turn you gay, which in those days was a fate worse than death. The girls never really ended up catching the boys, mostly on purpose, because the fun was in the chase, and at that age, neither boys nor girls would probably have known where to take it from there.
And then there was rollerskating. Nerd Girl did a lot of that. It didn't involve groups, and it didn't involve balls...except the disco ball that hung from the ceiling of her local roller rink, and since she didn't have to throw that, she was okay with it. She would go to the roller rink on Saturdays for lessons and get her groove on to the latest disco music. This probably explains a lot of things, like the fact that she feels a compelling urge to boogie whenever she hears the BeeGees, and shhh, don't tell anyone, she actually has Stayin' Alive on her mp4. She can't help it. Such early exposure to disco music permanently affected the circuitry of her young impressionable mind, and even though she tries to banish it from her brain with the latest hits, there it is, firmly imprinted in her gray matter forever.
Maybe that's why she likes "I'm Sexy and I know it"...because folks, no matter how hard it tries to masquerade as electro-hop, or whatever you kids want to call it, deep down underneath those metallic speedos and its hip hop exterior, that song has a heart of disco.
But that's not the point of this story (if there really is one at all).
The blissful period of bathroom escapism was like an oasis in the middle of a desert filled with ball-sized grains of sand...oh wait, that would be like a giant ball pool. Awesome! No it wasn't anything like that. Anyway, it was a temporary reprieve from the hated ball games, and Nerd Girl happily spent her days hiding out in the restroom, until one day she got caught. By the fearsome Mrs. Barracuda. Now, I'm not really sure why she was called Mrs. Barracuda, because she didn't really look like one. In fact, she more closely resembled a very well-fed whale, but she did snap at people a lot. Maybe she wasn't even as mean as all that, and she probably even meant well when she took Nerd Girl by the ear and marched her right back out to the playing field, maybe wanting to help her avoid a fate similar to her own. But Nerd Girl never forgave her, because from that day on, she was forced to suffer through every variety of ball game known to man, or at least to her teachers, and they were a pretty creative bunch.
She spent a lot of time out on the outfield, singing "Stayin' Alive" and "I Will Survive", because it was all about staying alive and surviving P.E.
Then one day, one of her Junior High P.E. teachers, probably frustrated by Nerd girl's total lack of coordination and enthusiasm for sports, suggested she try a dance class.
This changed everything. Nerd Girl became Ballerina Girl. She plastered her room with dance photos, and traded in her books for toe shoes. Okay, she didn't really trade in her books, because that would go against her very nature, but she did spend an awful lot of time doing the splits in doorways, watching Fame, Flashdance, and Dance Fever, wearing leg warmers and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, and twirling around, thinking she was pretty damn graceful.
Once she got to college, she chucked her glasses, got contacts, and looking considerably less nerd-like, she briefly majored in dance. It lasted for a whole quarter. Then she realized she wasn't all that talented after all. She wasn't terrible, but she wasn't naive enough to think there was any sort of a future in the dance world for her.
So, she hung up her dancing shoes, and studied psychology, with the hopes of discovering how disco music had shaped the minds of her generation. She never did find the answer, but she's sure it's out there somewhere. Then she got busy, got married, had kids, took up aerobics, and forgot about dancing for the longest time.
Until recently. But that's a story for another post.
All I can say for now is, I still don't like playing ball games...of any kind. I guess that elementary school torture was just too much. But thanks to that Junior High teacher, I found something I love, even though I had forgotten just how much until now.
So, what about you? Were you one of the first to get picked for teams at school? Did you actually like all those sports that are supposed to be good for you. Or, like me, were you traumatized by it all?