Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tales of Gym Classes Past

I’m a fan of British English. I think “behaviour” looks much more sophisticated than “behavior”. And you don’t have to have a sense of “humour” to appreciate that I feel like more of an adult putting my “trainers” on to go to the gym than slipping on some “tennis shoes”. I’m not much of a tennis player; my brief experience with it occurred during gym class my junior year of high school. The only memorable thing about the sport for me was my disgust at the behaviour of the gym teacher at the end of a game between a learning disabled boy and his unenthusiastic opponent. The teacher asked the former what the score of the game had been, and received an answer of “I don’t know”. The teacher brashly replied, “You don’t know? So YOU LOSE”. Unfortunately, I was too timid at the time to speak out, which I regret.
But I wasn’t always silent in gym class. Before a trip to the weight room, my senior year gym teacher warned us that if he caught us being lazy, we would make up for it with extensive laps around the track during our next class. My friend and I headed to the elliptical machines and began our usual barmy dialogue. During the course of the gym class, a large group of blokes had gathered around their mate to watch him lift some heavy weights. It was a right testosterone fest, and the odours of masculine efforts filled the room. One of the girls on an elliptical machine next to us dismounted and sat on a mat on the floor, as the blokes cheered for their strongman mascot. The girl sat and rested for a moment, and stretched. The gym teacher must have thought she was being lazy, and told her to get back to work. I yelled across the weight room, “Oh? So you can only stand around if you have a penis??!”. The gym teacher sheepishly glanced at me, and hurried over to tell the strongman spectators to disperse. It bothered me that the gym teacher had overlooked the group of boys standing around for several minutes, and had singled out the girl who had rested for a moment. I can only hope that my outburst really made him think about the double standards of the weight room.
I didn’t hold the incident against the gym teacher, though. He was, on every other occasion, fair and reasonable and appreciated effort more than athletic prowess. He was my favourite- he once borrowed my remote-controlled fart machine and hid it under a sweatshirt to startle his pupils as they ran laps around the football field. I have an (unfortunate) appreciation for toilet humour, so I forgave him the weight room episode.

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