Me When I'm Down
being forced to play kickball. That's right, forced. As in
"have to," as in "no way around it," as in "my
job depends on it." Let me explain. My office is having a team-building
activity (their motto: "You WILL have fun!") and, in this
case, team-building means a game of kickball (my motto: "I
haven't felt this nauseous since middle school P.E. class.").
the problem: I am not an athlete. I don't shoot hoops, or sink putts,
or run around a football field trying to grab a yellow flag from
someone's Umbros. I just don't do these things. I also don't ask
people to "play a little one-on-one," or "shoot some
8-ball," and I've never, ever, uttered a sentence that contained
the word "pigskin." Hell, I don't even watch sports on
TV, unless of course, you count professional wrestling as a sport,
which sadly, most people do not, choosing instead to think
of it as a gigantic pimple on the butt of the TV screen, not unlike
late night infomercials, and the dancing old man in those Six Flags
line: I'm just not a sports person. What's more, there's not a whole
lot I can do to change that. You see, Sportsessence (a term
derived from the Latin phrase Ix-nay on Sitting on your ass-nay
and watching TV-nay) is actually a hereditable trait, much like
handedness, tongue curling, and the ability to see a 3-D image in
those posters of multi-colored, mish-mashed waviness. There are,
however, plenty of people out there who have managed to inherit
Sportsessence. These are the folks who go running at 5 AM
on a Saturday, and do things like participate in intramural sports
for no reason other than -- get ready for this one -- they enjoy
it! These are also the people who use that ridiculous piece of exercise
equipment at the gym. You know the one I'm talking about. It's where
you sit down on the little seat, place your outer thighs squarely
against the cushy pads and then spread your legs obscenely far apart,
thereby feeling, not only "the burn," but also quite the
draft. These are the people who, as teeny, tiny cells in their mothers'
stomachs, camped outside the Gene Dispensing Factory (at 5 AM on
a Saturday probably) to ensure they received the coveted Sportsessence
out on getting that gene. Probably because I was in the next building
over, the Klutz Cafe, watching sitcoms and eating a pastrami sandwich.
But Rob, you say, surely you learned some athletic skill
after all those years of playing catch with your father! Ha ha!
While my dad and I have certainly had our share of beautiful bonding
moments ("And that, Son, is how you make an Egg Cream!"),
"playing catch" was not one of them. Not that I blame
him in any way. No -- the complete lack of any and all athletic
ability whatsoever among members of the Bloom family dates all the
way back to 1896 when Stavros J. Bloom attempted to compete in the
first Olympic games. Taken from Bloom family records, here is the
actual transcript of a conversation held between Stavros and his
track coach on April 1896:
pick-a me for the team-a, Coach!" Stavros said.
coach shook his head and snickered. "Your shoes are on backwards."
Stavros wasn't chosen for the team, which truthfully, was probably
for the best. Between his clubbed foot, frequent dizzy spells, and
rare allergy to oxygen, Stavros had no business being outdoors,
let alone in a sporting event. This would prove to be consistently
true for future generations of Blooms as well. Blooms and Sports
just don't mix. Especially during adolescence when you're short,
uncoordinated, and wear glasses with three-inch-thick lenses. Welcome
to my P.E. class at Rock Lake Middle School in Longwood, Florida.
always picked last for teams. Always. It didn't matter what sport
we were playing, either -- I was last. The teacher would pick two
team captains, guys with names like Travis or Conner or Austin or
Colin; guys who were a foot taller than I, with biceps bigger than
my thighs. What's more, these boys had very cleverly made a deal
with God (a huuuuuuge sports fan) because they'd already started
going through puberty, meaning they had hair in places that I didn't
even have yet! For these guys, P.E. class was the reason they
went to school every day, whereas I greeted each class with slightly
less enthusiasm than I did a dental cleaning.
the entire P.E. class would stand in a big group and the captains
would pick different students to join their respective teams. Brown.
Turner. Palmer. The chosen boys would jog over to their fellow
teammates where they'd begin high-fiving and slapping each other
on the back. Young. Morris. Harris. One by one, my fellow
classmates would get chosen. Stewart. Miller. Anderson. More
names would get called while I stood there, uncalled, watching as
the crowd around me got smaller.
let's play!" TravisConnerAustinColin would say.
up," the teacher would reply with a snicker. "Nobody picked
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