Friday, April 9, 2010

Exercising Irony

“The supreme irony of life is hardly anyone gets out of it alive.”

- Robert A. Heinlein

Readers of my blog know that I sub gym A LOT – more than a teacher certified in Social Studies should be expected to teach gym. Part of the reason is because too many substitute teachers are afraid of P.E. classes and the other is because (unfortunately) I do a decent job, so these gym teachers request me. But it’s IRONIC that I wind up teaching gym more than any other subject. Am I using irony correctly? You be the judge.

As a child, I did NOT love gym because I was little, skinny, and un-athletic. If I wasn’t chosen last for a team, I came close. In sixth-grade, I couldn’t even do one pull-up for the fitness test. My mother wouldn’t allow me to take gymnastics or ballet, but I did play soccer because I think a law on Long Island required it.

As a teenager, I loved gym even less. Changing in front of other girls? Keeping ugly fitness clothes in a gym locker? Sweating? What could be worse? During one semester in my senior year of high school, I was forced to take gym during my friend’s lunch period. I didn’t want to miss any fun, so I skipped class one too many times and had to make up THE WHOLE SEMESTER OF GYM or I wouldn’t graduate. So, in the spring I had to take early morning gym before the school day began.

I didn’t have a car so my father drove me each morning. Since he had to get to work early, it meant that I arrived at the school ten or fifteen minutes before early morning gym even started. So, I stood in the hallway while this other student, whom I didn’t know, stood across from me drinking a cup of Seven-Eleven coffee. He looked mean, in his heavy metal t-shirt, flannel, and ratty jeans, and he didn’t talk to me, so I didn’t talk to him either.

A couple of weeks later, while in the commons, a friend of mine from the art department introduced the mean-looking guy to me. We recognized one another and began talking about our dislike for gym (He wasn’t mean after all, but sarcastic). Turns out that he NEVER took gym during high school. Yes, he skipped it for all three years. Not only did he have to take morning gym, but also he had to go to summer school. FOR GYM. His diploma was contingent on completing all of his P.E. credits.

After that, gym friend and I hung out during our early morning class. In the weight room, we’d sit and talk until the teacher walked around, and then we’d half-heartedly press the weights a couple of times. When it was time for tennis, we smoked while we played (I know – the good ol’ days). We both had first period off, so we began hanging out after class. Then after school. And then on the weekends.

By prom time, the friend who introduced us, my best friend, gym friend, and I had our own anti-prom. That summer, gym friend got me a job at the carnival. (That’s for another blog post in the future.) I thought he might ask me out, but he liked my best friend better than me, and around that time, a friend from choir introduced me to a musician – a drummer, whom I wound up dating for a year.

At the end of August, my drummer boyfriend went away to college, but I still spent time with my gym friend. When my boyfriend dropped out of college and moved back to New York, he became jealous of my time spent with gym friend, but I didn’t stop the friendship. The relationship with the drummer was doomed – he was cheap, negative, directionless, and had a drinking problem. We broke up on Flag Day (Don’t ask why I know this).

When I broke up with drummer-boy, gym friend didn't ask me out – at least, not right away. Years later, gym friend asked me to marry him. And about a year after we graduated college, we got married. Tomorrow is our sixteen-year-wedding anniversary. So I guess, I have to thank P.E. (and my art class friend) for meeting my husband.

Is it ironic? Maybe not. Perhaps finding love in a place I didn't love would be ironic, if only we'd fallen in love back then. I guess if subbing gym makes me go back to school, become certified in Physical Education, and begin teaching gym - that would be ironic. That ain't gonna happen.

Happy Anniversary, A4.

You have to watch this parody of Alanis Morissette’s ironic to show her how it’s done:

Watch this Ed Byrne clip too:


  1. Ironic, a bit, romantic: a lot.
    Loved this story and I defintely like your hubbie.
    Thank God we don't have to pass gym as part of the curriculum here, that would never happen in Ireland.
    Nobody would ever graduate,
    Lovely story, Theresa and have a lovely anniversary !

  2. I have to confess, I was one of those kids who hated gym class. I was a pretty active kid an played a couple varsity sports, but I would do ANYTHING to get out of gym class.

    Love the blog!

  3. Brigid, looking back, I don't know why I hated gym so much - it's not that bad. Oh no - maybe I'm cracking and I'll teach gym after all!

    Thanks for the anniversary wishes.

    Tawna Fenske, I was active and outdoors all the time too.

    Thanks for the blog compliment.

  4. Awwww What a lovely lovely story!!!!

    How lovely! Awwww - oh the irony of it all!!!


    I loved that Ed Byrne clip - thank you! "It's not a metaphor, it's a simile".

    I never understood Ms Morisette until today!!

    And I absolutely DETESTED P.E. - and wish I had a lovely story like yours to take the edge of the yucky memories!


    Take care

  5. Amazing how those high school relationships can sometimes result in something much more long term. That's why parents worry so much about the friends their children make in those crucial years. Like your romantic story.

  6. Old Kitty, I'm glad you watched the clip.

    It's amazing how many people hated gym! Maybe the ones who loved it are afraid to say anything.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

    Paul C, high school relationships that end up long-term are rare, but they happen! Glad you liked the story.

  7. Congrats on your anniversary! That's such a nice story. And its neat that the gym teachers ask for you to sub for them. I always hated gym. I kept the same smelly clothes in my locker the entire semester. :) Nice image to end on, huh?

  8. I'd say you nailed Irony. And congratulations on the anniversary. I understand the gym affliction. I'm not and never have been a sporty guy. My irony, my children a mini jocks in the making.

  9. What a great story. Congratulations on keeping the right guy and happy anniversary. :)

  10. This is such a great story! That's so sweet.

    And it is ironic. Both that you met your hubby there AND that you sub there so often.

    I, for one, would love to hear about the carnival as well.

  11. Awww! You made me say "awww" out loud, that's how adorable this post is! Happy anniversary!

    I always, always hated P.E., but it wasn't until junior year that I finally cut class. And it figures, the ONE time I cut class was the time there was a police officer visiting the school. He caught me roaming the halls, asked where I was supposed to be (I lied and said I was new to the school and was lost -- I know, great morals) and he personally escorted me back to the gym. Ugh.

    I would say that is irony, Theresa. What a great story.

  12. Aubrie, I have a feeling that there are few teenagers rushing to clean their gym clothes on a regular basis!

    Jm. Diaz, so you've got irony down too! Recently, I watched the film "The Blind Side" and the dedication of the family to sports was so foreign to me.

    Thank you for the nice words, Sarahjayne!

  13. Tiffany, are you now convinced that I will NOT become a gym teacher? The carnival was certainly interesting.

    Shelley, that's such a funny story! I would've lied too, so your morals don't sound so bad to me.

    Thank you for the anniversary wishes, Sheila.

  14. Oh I loved this story, and was rooting for you two throughout. Smoking and tennis? I remember those days. In high school, we actually had a smoking room off the cafeteria for the students! Congrats to you and hubby on your anniversary, Cheers :)

  15. Such a nice story. Happy Anniversary to you and your husband. Hope you will be celebrating today.Have a wonderful day!

  16. That is ironic!

    Happy Anniversary! Hope you and hubby have a great day together!

  17. Joanne, wow - a smoking section of the cafeteria. I've never heard of that before.

    Choices, thank you for the nice wishes. We're going out to dinner tonight.

    Marsha, thanks for the anniversary wishes.

  18. Happy Anniversary and I LOVE your blog! (And by the way I'm very impressed that you're a substitute teacher!) New follower who found you via 6 Degrees of Blogging.

    Your blog is featured this week as my fifth blog hop on Six Degrees of Blogging. Check the post out here:

    Thanks! Beth

  19. What a sweet story Theresa! Happy Anniversary. You ought to write that up as a short story and submit it to a magazine. It really is a lovely story.

  20. Beth, thank you for visiting and thank you for featuring me. I'm glad you like my blog. I've checked out your blog and some of the others on the Six Degrees of blogging - cool idea!

    VKT, thank you for the anniversary wishes. Two years ago, I tried to write a script - an 80s love story comedy about this, but part way through I realized - I don't know how to write a movie script!

  21. Happy anniversary! I took track in high school just to avoid gym - I hated it! In middle school, we had to choreograph dances and perform them for the class. Honestly, I think that may be my worst school years memory - yuck!

  22. Susan, lucky you that you could take track instead of gym. As for dancing, I was hopeless. I took one quarter of dance, and was always out of step!

  23. I'm afraid to sub for gym. I'm only five feet tall, so if I get stuck with older kids, some are bigger than me, and certainly louder. Trying to wrangle a bunch of kids outside seems like a huge challenge.

  24. Vagabond Teacher, I say I'm 5'3" on my Driver's License, but I think I'm over-stretching it. Don't let them smell fear!

  25. That us a great story! How did he finally ask you out? What finally motivated him to do it?

  26. Lani, that's for another post. Seriously, when he didn't seem interested, somebody asked me out and I said yes. We dated for a year while I still kept hanging out with my friend. Then I broke up with my boyfriend. My "friend" liked me but I didn't know it. Almost two months later he finally asked me out and I said yes.

  27. Wow, that's a great "meeting your significant other story"!
    So at the very beginning, he didn't speak to you in the hall because he was shy?

    My impression is that the happiest relationships are based on friendship. : j

  28. Alesa, I just asked him. He has no idea. First he said we must've talked, but I told him it wasn't until a mutual friend introduced us that we began talking. Then he said people don't just talk in high school. That's probably more like.

    I agree, it's nice we were friends for over a year before we dated.

  29. What a beautiful love story, Theresa. Thanks for sharing this with us. I wish I had read it last year.

  30. Len, thanks! Too bad we haven't known one another this long.