I suck at sports.
I mean I really suck.
I’m athletic, and surprisingly strong. I was a cheerleader for six years, and can be coordinated. I can even do things that just require hitting things and running around, like racquetball and fencing, or like my beloved Zim-Zam of yore.
But I cannot throw, and I cannot catch. Period. So basically that meant that in gym class, unless we were doing gymnastics or aerobics or weight training, I was screwed. Hearing encouraging cries of “You can do it!” and “It’s okay!” and “Good try!” could wake me from sleep like the darkest of night terrors. I hated gym. Because I hate to fail.
You can imagine, then, what I was going through in 1980 when I was on Romper Room. “Time to pair off!” Miss Mary Ann cheerfully declared, and first off, I HATE having to pair off. It’s always just so awkward for everyone involved. Plus, I’m shy.
I did find a partner, but the next battle was actually doing the paired activity, namely: throwing and catching.
And not even throwing a ball and catching a ball, NO. We were using those little plastic lacrosse-type sticks. So now you have a trifecta of terror for me: pairing off, throwing and catching, AND using sports equipment.
The next couple of minutes were spent throwing with mad caution, very gentle, tiny tosses to make up for my lack of aim. When the ball was thrown to me, I would of course miss, then have to run around for a bit as the plastic ball bounced all over those shiny TV-studio floors.
Until — I CAUGHT IT!
I caught the ball! All by myself! And you should have seen the look of shock on my face.
That one minor success was enough for me. I LOVED sports now!!!
The shock on my face shifted quickly to EXCITEMENT! I was DONE with the dumb tiny tosses. I was a jock now, yo!
So I FLUNG that ball as though I were going for some kind of distance — and height, for that matter — record. I watched the ball fly through the air, admiring my newfound power, but as the people in the studio audience avoided getting hit by the rogue ball, the look on my face switched to one of fear.
Miss Mary Ann: Now, Judith. We must remember that we are indoors.
My face fell, and I turned beet red. How humiliating! But at the same time, how exciting! How awesome it felt to just take something and throw it as hard as I could!
And thus it all began.
© January 23, (123!) 2008