A Physical Education
T I M E T R A V E L T U E S D A Y
I thought it might be fun to look back on the Physical education classes we had in our youth, specifically, those awkward middle school years when our bodies had a life of their own and were the cause of so much emotional anguish.
How fitting, no pun intended, that we would be forced to wear one piece uniforms with an elastic waist. The picture below illustrates the Chappaqua, Bell School uniform of the 1970’s. Ours was actually more navy than royal blue. I was just thankful they weren’t white or orange.
The boys, unlike the girls, were not subjected to ill-fitting one piece uniforms. The fellas were allowed to wear navy blue shorts and a white tee shirt. All socks had to be white, otherwise you would be required to go barefoot. For outdoor activities you would be excused and given the stink eye. (…something about the dye in dark socks getting into open wounds? Do any of you remember this as the reason given?)
The locker room was a nightmare for a few reasons. 1. I’d always forget my locker combination. 2. I was “uncomfortable” dressing in front of others. Often I’d change in the bathroom stall. 3. The locker room smell was a putrid mix of Love’s Baby Soft cologne, sweat, and old socks. Let’s not kid ourselves, no one ever took their uniform home to be washed.
Once we left the locker room we were forced by our whistle toting, lesbian gym teachers to sit in squads. Squads were short rows of six students, one in front of the other, facing the teacher. (Don’t even start with me about the mention of lesbian gym teachers. Our teachers were directly flown in from the Isle of Lesbos. They were scary. Even they knew they were scary. I know, it’s a stereotype. Leave me alone.)
There were different units offered throughout the year; Square Dancing, Gymnastics, Basketball, Baseball/ Softball, Field Hockey for the girls and LaCrosse for the boys, Badminton, Volleyball, Track and Field. When the teachers were too lazy we’d play kickball or dodgeball in the gym. When they were feeling sadistic, they’d make us run around the gym for the entire period or roll around on those little square pieces of wood that had wheels. What were those suppose to be for anyway?
I was always fairly athletic, or at least I could fake it, so I never had to be too humiliated when teams were chosen by my peers. I couldn’t help but feel bad for the girls that were always the last to be chosen. Why couldn’t the teachers just divide us? Why should anyone have to feel like a loser? We have the rest of our lives for that. That kind of social trauma was unnecessary, wasn’t it? Anyway, I’m certain those awkward, insecure girls ended up spending lots of time in the library, eventually graduating from Ivy league schools at the top of their class. I’d like to think that maybe one of them became a clothing designer and fashioned a better looking uniform for future generations?
How many of you enjoyed gym class aka “Physical Education?” Which unit did you most dread?