Anyone who knows me or has been unlucky enough to stumble across my path at the wrong time knows that I’m far from an athletic person. Most days, I struggle to remain upright. I only recently learned baskets and buckets are interchangeable terms. I never once attended a single one of my brother’s football games. If I go to a game, it’s generally with a friend in pursuit of her latest athletic crush.
Surprisingly enough, however, I do have some sports-related memories. Unsurprisingly, they intersect with some of my more embarrassing memories.
In honor of our recent sports edition, I thought I’d share two in particular.
The scooter incident, or how I stopped enjoying physical education
As a child, I actually enjoyed P.E. It was a nice, high-energy break from mundane classwork and activities. My favorite P.E. units tended to be the things that didn’t require much in the way of actual physical activity – like the parachute unit or the cups unit (I’m aware that both of these words raise questions but I am unequipped to answer either at this time.) One of the few actually physical units I enjoyed was the scooter unit.
For those unfamiliar with the P.E. “scooter” – it’s essentially a piece of plastic with wheels. To operate it, you sit and either push back with your legs or pull forward, very carefully, with your legs. As you might imagine, it can be difficult to pull yourself with your legs and keep the scooter positioned correctly beneath your backside (I nearly fell asleep typing this paragraph.Ihatesports.)For that reason, many people opt to use their hands to hold the scooter in place as they pull themselves. However, doing so keeps you from achieving the full benefits of scooter-ing (Scooting?) because you’re not using your legs as hard. Furthermore, your hands are dangerously close to the wheels and can be easily caught by them. For that reason, it’s generally discouraged – even in spite of the scooter’s convenient handles.
One time in the first grade – on my seventh birthday, in fact – back when I still enjoyed P.E., I used my hands to scoot from one side of the gymnasium to the other.
When I reached the other side, the coach called out everyone but me for using their hands and forced them to “pull a card.”
I was not called out.
I did not pull a card.
The guilt kept me from enjoying P.E. for the rest of grade school.
This is my first time admitting it publicly.
Swimming and other water-related trauma
When I was a toddler, I would sit through long, meticulous baths. After a good thirty minutes or so of intense scrubbing, my mother would dress me in the frilliest frocks, place bows in my hair, and sit me in my toddler bed for a nap before disappearing in the kitchen. She would come back moments later to find me back in the tub, splashing away in frilly frock and all.
I don’t know what the long- term effects were of that experience because I only know of it through my mother’s stories.
I will, however, confidently conclude any child who voluntarily sits in soaking wet clothes probably isn’t 100% normal.
Speaking of being abnormal, I was asked to bring a bathing suit to pre-K for a loosely-defined “pool party” (it was more of a sprinkler and mud party.) My mother sewed me what was essentially a tankini with shorts for the occasion. I thought I looked cute. Little opinionated Matthew did not, and he made sure to tell me.
“That’s not a swimsuit,” Matt said.
“You’re not a swimsuit,” pre-English major Hiba responded. And then cried. My freshman year of college, I attempted to learn how to swim in the USM natatorium early one Saturday morning. A friend of mine who gave swimming lessons in her spare time offered to teach me.Weagreedonatentative schedule. I bought a badass burkini for the occasion and, with memories of my last swimsuit infraction in the back of my mind – made sure my friend saw it before we went.
“That’s… cute,” she said unconvincingly.
It was not cute.
I thought I’d be swimming by the end of our two-hour session.
I was not swimming.
I was, at best, floating for a couple seconds at a time. At worst, I was treading water and splashing like a beached incubus (you have my permission to use that as your band title.)
Needless to say, I have not returned.