Gym class memories that still make you cringe

In the ever-inventive world of gym teachers, few came up with more maniacal activities than the ones I had as a kid. As the old stupid saying goes, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, but they weren’t talking about gym class. I have gathered up some of the best, although it has caused me much agony to do so. I will omit the ubiquitous “square dancing," as I’m sure everyone has suffered this extreme torture worthy of a master Gestapo agent. I blame this wretched coed embarrassment on the popularity of country music and Hee Haw in the 70’s.

The Pool  Ok, I guess you are lucky if you have a school district with enough money to have a pool in a few schools, but swimming ten laps in an Olympic-sized pool is not my idea of a fun time. Most of the burnouts practically had heart attacks after one lap. Adding sand to the Vaseline in this was the fact that we had to wear used Speedo-type bathing suits. Oh yes they were supposedly washed every day, but still, ick. I don’t know if the gym teacher was just a perv or he thought we would steal these wonderful things, but he would make us take off the suits before we would go back to the locker room. Um, he didn’t do that with the girls, hmm. All and all, it was hellish and I would never wear Speedos even if I was French.

The Parachute  Really, this activity defies logic and I can’t imagine anyone coming up with this. Somehow my elementary school happened upon a WWII surplus parachute. In the springtime, the gym teacher would have us haul it out to the field and unroll it. We then sat around the edges of it and attempted to yank the kid over who was holding on to the fabric on the opposite side. Brilliant!

Gymnastics  I’m sorry but grading a bunch of lanky teenage boys’ abilities to straddle a pommel horse and uneven bars is just plain fucking stupid. I swear that the teacher thought he was Béla Károlyi. He even grew the stupid mustache.

Tennis anyone?  Ok, first of all, I have absolutely no eye-hand coordination, so anything that has to do with swinging something and hitting a ball is right out. But, tennis in particular is truly horrible. I don’t know what makes the tiny mind of a gym teacher think that they can turn any kid into a pro within the confines of their little lesson plan. But it ain’t gonna happen.

Looking back, the only time that I liked gym class was when we played dodge ball. The sport of kings. The only thing that should be allowed in schools. Though, I seem to recall the occasional sadistic substitute gym teacher allowing us to use soccer and basket balls during dodge ball. Those were the days!

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