Monday, October 23, 2006

The Dreaded Rope Climb

There is much on the news these days about the fattening of America. Especially talk about how fat modern American kids are becoming.

As someone who has been fatgravitationally challenged most of my life, I can only say: Welcome to the dark side.

I say that in jest.

I truly hate to see more and more people joining the ranks of the gravitationally challenged. As someone who has been that way for much of my life, I hate to know that more people will go through what I have gone through.

As a kid, it wasn't too much of an issue; I've always been able to take a joke, and that comes in handy when you're a gravitationally challenged kid.

I have no resentment, and in fact, when conflicts arose, I KNEW I had the upper hand as soon as the other party started bringing up my weight.

This is also handy as an adult, when you're discussing something with someone, and you both get testy, you can know for sure the other guy has already lost the argument when the body size references start. You've already won.

So as a gravitationally challenged, white, Christian, conservative, male in America, I have to have a pretty thick skin because it is still open season on any and all of those types of people in America. Any one of those five things could make me a target, being all of them in one is, for the politically correct crowd, like shooting fish in a barrel.

But I digress.

As a gravitationally challenged kid and teenager, even my best friends were pretty quick to play the fat card. If there was whispering and giggling and they wouldn't let me in on it, I knew it was fat jokes being told at my expense.

If all of a sudden I was being called, say, J.B., and they wouldn't tell me what J.B. stood for, I would just go through all the different things a gravitationally challenged person could be called and figure it out for myself. In this case, J.B. meant jelly belly.

Oh well, that's life. And if my best friends did that, you can imagine what the people who didn't like me called me.

But the bane of any gravitationally challenged kid's existence is Physical Education. We always called it P-E, not phys ed.

The first inkling that things were going south in PE for me was in about fifth grade, and the dreaded rope climb.

The PE teacher I had, could climb all the way to the ceiling of the grade school gym, without using his legs. Arms only. It was actually scary to watch him, he would literally climb to the ceiling of the gym.

I, of course, would just grab on and hang there. My weight had gotten me to the point where I couldn't do pull ups or climb the rope.

Years and lots of frustration went by, until the most unlikely thing happened.

In Louisiana at the time, the state-school-powers-that-be decided that more 'meat' classes were more important than PE, and lowered the requirements for the number of PE classes in high school from all four years to only two, to give us more important class options.

What joy! What rapture! The PE I took in 9th and 10th grade would be my last!


That is, my last until I got to college. But that was no problem, junk like bowling and archery count as PE in college. I wouldn't kid about something like that. No special 'gym clothes' or group showers to suffer through.

Even a gravitationally challenged kid can bowl!

So as I see the talking heads on TV shaking their heads at the sad state of American youth, and that they need to be more active, and how so many schools no longer have physical education, I don't agree with them.

Like I said, I hate for anyone to become gravitationally challenged, It's no fun and causes a lot of problems.

But the memory of all those years of PE, and the humiliation by both teachers and fellow student, Every. Single. Year. well, I firmly believe that physical education in school is a bigger problem in most kids lives than it is a help.

But that's just one fat kid's opinion. I have always felt that way, and I'm sticking to it.


Michelle's Spell said...

P.E. is a nightmare. I still have nightmares about it! Great post!

JAM said...

Thank you. I remember it being stressful, but it's been long enough that I can laugh about it. I mean, I never lost sleep over it, even back then, but thinking back, it's a wonder I'm not more twisted than I am.

Anonymous said...

I can agree to a point. For most kids it is a total nightmare and for most of my junior high and high school career it WAS a total nightmare. That is until I got a teacher that lit a fire under my ass and although I did not lose a bunch of weight, I did get into better shape and my mile went from 20 minutes/walking to 10 minutes running. That is something if I do say so myself and I'll never forget that. Of course, I'm back to being a tubby, computer-chair potatoe but that's besides the point ;-) Great post, thanks for stopping by.

JAM said...

I wish I had had PE teachers that encouraged and motivated us. I respond well to those types of people. But my experience with PE teachers was less than ideal. It's taken me a lot of years to get to the point of really starting to take control of my own health and weight. I have a very long way to go, but I've done better and more consistent work on myself this year as far as eating healthy, etc., than any stretch of time since my late teens, early twenties.

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