Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rope Burns

I’d skip through the halls with my little friends.

I’d sing out a cheery hello to our principal Mr. Wessells-he of handlebar mustache fame. (I can still conjure up the smell of mustache wax) 

I’d look fondly forward to my lunch of PB&J, Fritos, and a fruit cup.  I’d sit with my friends and conspire to ride bikes down the ‘busy’ road when our Mothers’ backs were turned.

And then, after lunch, we’d have gym class.  I loved gym class!  Sometimes we would learn folk dances. We would become giddy with excitement when we saw the old turntable sitting up on the stage of the gym.  (The Mexican Hat dance was always my favorite, followed closely by freestyle dancing at the end of class to strains of the Hawaii 5-0 theme song)  

Causing even more excitement would be entering the musty gym and seeing the parachute spread out on the gym floor. (Run left, turn, run right! Snap the parachute upupupupup aaaaaand let it fall down around you.  We loved that fort feeling under the gently falling silk.)

Sometime the mats would be laid out and we knew tumbling was the order of the day.  (I could turn an aerial cartwheel back in the day and also perform a back walkover by walking my legs up a wall and then flipping myself over.)

Hula Hoop day was big fun, too.  I was killer with a hula hoop.

However several days a year I’d enter my little elementary school gym and my heart would stop cold. My palms would sweat and the bile would rise in the back of my throat because there, hanging from the ceiling, was The Rope.

While other children would begin to squeal with eagerness, I would suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to puke.

I could not climb The Rope.

I would put myself last in line, hoping to run out of time before my turn came.  But then Mr. Maurice our gym teacher would rearrange us in alphabetical order-by last name.  So invariably I had to go close to the front. 

It was always a race as to who could climb up the fastest and then come back down without falling to their death.

Malora was always in front of me alphabetically.  Malora was an athlete.  Malora would grab that rope, spread her feet out instead of wrapping them up in the rope for support, and shimmy up using only the strength in her arms.

She was always very gracious when my turn was next.

Go on, Sugar. You’ll make it this time.

Somehow I doubted her sincerity because she’d always give me that snicker/snort through the nose kind of laugh as she passed me and then double over with more laughter when she went to the back of the line.

But I’d step up to the mat, by God!  I’d be buoyed with sudden confidence.  I knew this would be the time I’d make it to the top.

So I grabbed the rope, swallowed the bile, and hopped myself onto the knot tied to the bottom.  I’d stretch, I’d grunt, I’d try pushing with my legs with all my might. I’d pull until my arms hurt.  I wrapped the rope around my legs trying to get support.  I’d jump down and try again and again.


OK, Sugar.  Thanks for trying so hard!  Go on to the back of the line.

Yes, Mr. Maurice.

Oh the agony of defeat.

Granted, I wasn’t the only kid who couldn't climb the rope.  There was Lara B, but she had a learning disability and John-John the pee-pee boy never made it very far either.

I would comfort myself knowing I had august company in my lack of rope skills.

This horrifying childhood experience only prodded me to vow that one day I would be able to scale a rope to any height required.  And guess what, Kids…

I still can’t climb a rope.

Now, if you want a good solid base for a human pyramid, I’m your gal.

I was always picked first for Red Rover, because I could hold anybody back from breaking through my link in the human chain and I charged through the opposing team's chain like a bull. 

Get the Hell out of my way, Bitches.  Who's coming over? Sugar’s coming over!

It was a pity, really, the day I burst through Malora’s link and she had to go home with a dislocated thumb.

It was a damn pity, indeed.

Ah, the thrill of victory!

1 comment:

Bou said...

I related to this post on so many levels, it had me laughing! I loved that damn parachute. And there was also this BIG BIG red ball we got to play with on some days!