When I was in school I hated gym class. Maybe not as much as math, but close. At least in math we were rarely required to strip down to our underwear in front of a room full of classmates. Oh, maybe once or twice during Algebra II, but certainly not every day. The best Phys Ed-related exercise I ever got was when I reached eleventh grade, and exercised my option to not take it anymore.
In this update I’ll briefly recount some of the gym class horror stories that jump immediately to my mind, and you guys can take it from there. How’s that sound? Good? Good.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
The horror of the trampoline
During Junior High we were occasionally required to jump on the trampoline. The jumping part wasn’t so bad – although the coaches were never satisfied with the quality of my bounces – it was when I wasn’t jumping that scared the crap out of me.
When we weren’t on the trampoline we were supposed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder around the thing, and act as “spotters.” Meaning: if someone took a bad hop, we were expected to catch them, and push them back to safety.
Yeah right. Some of those meatheads were bouncing twenty feet in the air. They’d go flying from one end of the trampoline to the other, and it was barely-contained chaos. I was always terrified that 150 pounds of knees, elbows, and feet would come down near me. And everybody would be disgusted when I stepped aside and let it all crash to the floor.
I also saw a guy do a face-plant on the trampoline, and bite off the end of his tongue. He stood up, blood pouring from his mouth like Gene Simmons, and sprinted out the side door. It was disturbing.
The coach who loved wrestling
One year in high school we had a coach who was a big fan of wrestling, and felt that it was his duty to expose us to this “wonderful” sport. I think a couple of guys came to some tough realizations about their sexuality that year, but don’t know of any who were turned into diehard wrestling fans.
They paired us up with people who were roughly our height and weight, and I remember “wrestling” a black kid named Ziggy. I put the word in quotes, because I basically rolled over on the mat, and let him pin me. I mean, seriously. Like I gave a shit.
Some kid name Mike, however, would go out there and do battle. One day he was wrestling someone, in his standard crazy-ass aggressive manner, when we all heard a loud SNAP! It sounded like a tree branch breaking, and he howled like a wounded animal. Then he held up his right arm, and it looked like it had a second elbow, between the original one and his wrist.
Shit! Everybody’s face went white (even Ziggy’s), as Mike continued to scream, and was carried out of there.
Taunted by a length of rope
During sixth grade we were expected to climb a rope that was attached to the ceiling of the “multi-purpose room.” I could never really do it, and was also afraid of heights. So, funk dat.
Some guys would go flying up that thing like a spider monkey, and start doing pull-ups on the ceiling beams. They were show-off assholes, of course, and the coach would scream at them to knock it off. But it was OK. There was a three inch-thick mat on the floor, twenty feet below. I’m sure they would’ve been fine if they’d fallen.
Whenever I reported to gym class, I’d take a look at that rope, first thing. If it was still tied to the wall, I knew I’d dodged a bullet. But if it was down… it was going to be a bad day. I knew I’d soon be two feet off the ground, swaying back and forth, as the whole class roared with laughter.
I hated that rope, and monitored its position for a full school year. It felt like I was being taunted.
Fighting to survive
During the Junior High years a person has to stand up for himself, or be emotionally steamrolled. I’m no fighter, but sometimes a guy has no choice in the matter. Ya know?
Some pompous little prick with a British accent (WTF? In 1970s West Virginia??), was always giving me grief. I don’t know why, but he tried to ruin as many of my days as possible.
During gym one morning we were playing volleyball, and I knocked one into the net. Little Lord Fauntleroy came running over, screaming and berating me in front of everyone. So, I took the ball and threw it straight into his face. Jets of blood shot out of both of his nostrils. The gym teacher yelled for me to go to the office, and it’s a funny thing… the kid never bothered me again.
Another day some cocky bastard shoved me during a heated Four Square match (heh), and I slugged him in the jaw so hard I think his head went all the way around. I’d never hit someone so hard, and it made a loud SMACK! sound, like on Mannix.
This time I was spanked, in front of the whole class. Coach Dye had everyone gather ‘round in a semi-circle, and slapped my ass with a wooden paddle three or four times. It was a simpler time.
But, once again, the kid left me alone after that. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it? There were other fights during those years, with similar results. You don’t even necessarily have to win the fight, I learned. Just being willing to get into it is usually enough.
The horror of the locker room
Needless to say, I got dressed as fast as possible. Sometimes we were required to take a shower in Junior High gym, and other times we were not. It depended on the coach, I guess. Or maybe the principal, I don’t know.
When showers were required, I’d just go in there and stick my head under the water, and hustle back to my locker. If your hair was wet, it was good enough; the coaches would leave you alone.
I sure as hell wasn’t going to subject myself to the craziness of the shower room, if I didn’t have to. There were guys in there pissing on people, throwing bars of soap like a Nolan Ryan fastball, and making comments about someone’s “hairless half-inch.” It was a nightmare.
The whole locker room scene was something to survive. There were all sorts of antics going on, and it was my daily goal to not be the focus of any of it. I tried to stay on the periphery, and did a pretty good job of it.
To my amazement, there were a few guys who would strut around completely nude, and seemingly not give it a second thought. I’d be over there ripping my clothes on and off so fast it was just a blur. How could anyone have so much confidence? It seemed (and seems) impossible to me.
In fact, there was a guy who took it a step further, and ordered everyone to “check it out!” while fondling himself. “That’s half o’ pound o’ cack right there!” he’d say. Good god! It’s a wonder all of us didn’t require years of intensive therapy.
The sit-up heard ‘round the world
I suffered many humiliations in gym class, but one stands out in my mind. During high school there were government mandates that said you had to be able to do a certain number of pull-ups, push-ups, etc.
During the sit-up portion, my friend Tim was holding my feet. Remember that? Holding someone’s feet while they did sit-ups? Anyway, he was my partner, and while I was doing my fifty reps or whatever, a couple of girls wandered over. They were standing there talking to Tim, while I toiled away.
Then tragedy struck. I sat up with my hands behind my head, and farted so loud they probably heard it in the cafeteria. It was like something off Satchmo’s trumpet. It caught me completely off-guard, and everybody else was pretty shocked, too.
Tim began howling in protest, leaned way back, and looked like he was experiencing G-force. But he never left his post; he continued to hold my feet! One of the girls said, “Disgusting!” and they both turned, and headed for the hills.
If the girls hadn’t been there, and I’d just parted Tim’s hair down the middle, it would’ve been a great moment. But the presence of females turned it into something that still makes me cringe, more than 30 years later. Oh well.
It’s your turn now. Do you have any gym class horror stories to share? If so, use the comments link below.
And I’ll see you guys again on Monday.
Have a great day!