Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ahead of Our Time (Prompt: Leader and/or Follower Poem)

1977 -
In junior high school PE,
I was one of those boys
who wasn’t a great athlete
and I didn’t aspire to be one.

I liked talking to girls
and reading
and listening to records
and daydreaming
and watching
Heckle and Jeckle cartoons.

I dreaded the miscreant sadists
we called “Coach,”
and their misguided attempts
to make men of
"sissy boys" like me
and Armando,
the other overweight Mexican
kid in the group.

Our skinny white classmates
ran like grinning idiots
at these coaches’ command,
but Armando and I
protested as we
walked the track
far behind the pack.

I never understood
why all my classmates
loved this -
even as a kid
I knew it was sweaty,
and not conducive to

Maybe they were
acting out some homoerotic
army man fantasy
as they bobbed in anticipation
and divided themselves into

One day, Coach Perez,
the only other Mexican in class
(imagine our  betrayal!)
had enough of our apathy,
so he had us lay on our backs
on the blacktop
and do leg lifts,

at 30 degrees
then 60 degrees,
then 90 degree angles
for the entire period.

Our guts burned
but we didn’t
say a word to complain.

We just took it,
silent and stoic –

like men.

For the remainder of the year
we had an unspoken compact
with Coach Perez,
where we would half-try
and he would half leave us alone.

And now, as I see the fattening
of middle school boys
texting girls
plugged into their iPods
and playing Call of Duty
and not wanting to get sweaty,

I smile
at how Armando and I were
ahead of our time.


  1. Anonymous9:01 PM

    Saw you while perusing PA and wanted to come here to comment. Gym class was painful for me, too, chubby and out of shape and depressed and always picked last. And I was an Anglo among Anglos! But still they knew, those Nazis with whistles... and the experimenting lesbians (who married football players, natch) excelled, in mascara, yet.

    Great stuff, hon! Ameleh

  2. LOL.

    I wish I had an Ipod in 1997, when I was trying to figure out why I had to squeeze into Lycra and swim laps for 2 hours.