“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: