when all else fails write about your childhood

August 23, 2012

When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I asked my gym teacher, Miss Benz, about the  junior olympics, vaguely hinting around that I wanted to be in them.  It’s kind of embarrassing to think about it now, or more I feel kind of embarrassed for my junior high self. Because even though I was on the athletic side, I wasn’t particularly gifted at anything; plus I was getting kind of pudgy and out of shape from the combination of puberty and spending too much time in front of the TV, eating pieces of bread I rolled up into dough balls and drinking glass after glass of sweet tea. But I had this fantasy self that was going to run hurdles, thanks in large part to my baby butch crush on Babe Didrikson. I’d checked out a biography of her from the school library and I was blown away. Babe was a bad ass. And I didn’t even know that there were women athletes that could be bad ass like that. It was 1974. There was Chris Evert and Billie Jean. Olga Korbut. Maybe Ann Myers was in my radar too. All great athletes, for sure. But not like the Babe and after reading her bio I really wanted to be bad ass too.

Silly as it sounds, I wasn’t exactly sure how one went about becoming a bad ass athlete, as in that it would a shit load of practice. I thought either you were born talented or not. I’m being a little simplistic and exaggerating too, but on some fundamental level I didn’t understand how much training and practice it takes for even talented people to be good. I think its because I didn’t play a lot of sports growing up. A big chunk of my child hold occurred during the pre Title IX years. There weren’t many organized leagues for girls sports. Definitely not like now, and not like there was even in the 80s and 90s. The only league I even vaguely knew about about was run by “Tab,” a Presbyterian church where my Mom got married, but we all went to an Episcopal church  so I wasn’t sure how that would work out. Plus it may have just been a softball league and I had my heart set on basketball and then track and field. Also, it didn’t help that for a number of years I went to a private school run by a bunch of teachers from the UK and we didn’t have a gym class. The Brit teachers gave us a soccer ball at recess, and we kicked it around and scored goals, but no one really explained the rules to us.

I don’t remember what my gym teacher said to me about the junior olympics. I think she kind of brushed me off. Maybe she was embarrassed for me too. It’s funny because she could have challenged me to shoot 100 baskets a day or start out by running short distances and I probably would have done it.



2 responses to “when all else fails write about your childhood”

  1. RU says:

    You coulda been a contendah

  2. proteanme says:

    Ha! Are you channeling De Niro/Lamotta ala Raging Bull?

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