Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Memory Day: Junior High Gym Class

  • In junior high gym, we had to purchase and wear ugly blue uniforms with white enamel labels, where we were supposed to write our name in permanent marker. There were a surprisingly high number of gym uniform thefts which, to me, is about as logical as stealing bowling shoes or used dentist bibs. There was also a washer and dryer in a locked cage in the locker room where your gym teacher could wash a uniform if your family was too poor to wash it yourself.

  • I used to get into near-fights with a tall black kid named Dan who always said, "Get out of my face before I steal you". I was scrappy back then, and a gym teacher always intervened before it came to fisticuffs or suspensions.

  • Our junior high was a converted high school, so the locker rooms had those old-fashioned showers where everyone stands around a single post with multiple spigots in the middle of the floor. Since no one wanted to get up close and personal with other peoples' junk, no one ever showered. People would sometimes take a crap back there though. Then we'd all have to sit around listening to the "why showers are not for pooping" speech instead of playing games.

  • I always had gym early in the morning, which I'm sure the afternoon teachers always loved. Take twenty kids who have just run a mile without showering and pack them into those cramped welded desks with the bar on one side (so you don't fall out) and see how long it takes for the odour to permanently permeate your classroom.

  • My ninth grade gym teacher was single and pregnant, and may have been dating an associate principal who wasn't her baby's daddy. This was also year where the Health portion of the class was introductory sexual education, and it was either highly inspired or ridiculously stupid to have her teach us about how condoms prevent pregnancies. She also taught us that "boys have trouble peeing when they have an erection".

  • When she got too big to walk up and down the stairs, we spent lots of time in the classroom. We watched the entire Candyman movie over three days once. It was definitely gym-related though; it taught me that when you're in the ghetto you should run very fast.

  • In ninth grade, the gym teacher in charge of the Physical Fitness Test showed us how things work in the real world. During the mile-run, any student who "looked like they were really trying when they crossed the finish line" was marked down as having run it in 7:46. Coincidentally, 7:47 was the bottom limit to qualify for an award. Our ninth grade class must have looked pretty impressive to the National Fitness Council.

  • Every year in June, we got a half-day and spent the afternoon on a school-wide Track and Field event. I never ran in it, but I lived up to the spirit of the event by avoiding the perimeter hall monitors and running home with Aaron Ulm. As you can see from this picture, the main lesson they taught us about the tug-of-war was who to pick as your anchor and where to put the wimpy kids.

  • Rather than take the required gym class in high school, I took "summer gym", an intensive six week program where we spent three hours in the morning playing sports and three hours in the afternoon watching really bad driver's education videos under the watchful eye of Mr. Boone, played with pizzazz by Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans. The real Mr. Boone was just as inspiring -- he would storm into the classroom, yell, "shut up and watch this", and then go back to his office. Occasionally, he'd sneak back in and give detention to anyone sleeping or goofing off.
  • Share your own gym experiences in the Comments section!

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