But I digress.
Once a week, our teacher would herd us all into a pool where we were supposed to swim around and around in a large circle. It didn’t take me very long to realise that this was a tremendous waste of time, since there was no way to swim in a circle with close to 30 people without being kicked in the face by the idiot swimming in front of you. Neither could you increase the space between you and the aforementioned idiot, without whacking the moron behind you (not that that necessarily was a bad thing). So I ended up trying to find a mode of swimming where I wouldn’t be kicked or kick, yet at the same time stay floating just enough so that I wouldn’t drown. It would not stand. And since I’m not a monkey-brain, I quickly came up with a cunning plan.
I scratched my thighs, legs and arms and claimed to be allergic to the chlorine in the water. And my teacher actually believed me (I guess that might made him a monkey-brain, as well). So from that day on, I spent every swim class in a little, green room with a book. Nobody kicked me, and I didn’t have to swallow a bunch of icky water that 30 other people had wriggled around in. The room also had a window, so that I could watch the other poor bastards as they swam and tried (mostly without success) to avoid flying feet and arms. Perfect.
Could this strategy be transferred to gym, I wondered? And indeed it could. I had a wrist injury. I didn’t fake it. It actually required surgery at one point. Our teacher was fairly strict about his students showing him reports from home when they were going to sit out on the oh so fascinating rounds of volleyball or football, which was all that the classes consisted of. All of the monkey-brains thought that both these things were tremendous fun. If they could chase a ball for a couple of hours and then go into the locker rooms and inhale half a can of hairspray (and in those days they had the kind of spray that looked like dust if you used to much of it), they were perfectly happy.
Then one day when I had forgotten to bring my gym clothes, I discovered that the same rule didn’t apply to me. The coach seemed to assume that it was because of my poor, fragile wrists. I had started to feel that if I had to catch another damn ball, I would break someone’s face with it out of pure frustration and boredom, so I couldn’t let this opportunity just slip away. From that day on, I never had gym again. Nobody questioned it.
I did read a lot of books, though. And I got a B.
Monkey and a duck by Scottobear for www.Flickr.com