Among the reasons we end up in expensive, intense therapy sessions as adults, fifth grade gym class has got to be near or at the top.


Gym class has been a staple in elementary schools almost since the time that Eve asked Adam if that fig leaf made her look fat. However, few people in the long and storied history of ‘shirts and skins’ can honestly say that gym class was the best thing that ever happened to them. Physical Education teachers all have whistles. It’s the law. I think they need to blow them more often. In addition to stopping the action in a heated competition of synchronized jumping jacks, there is plenty of shenanigans going on in the locker room and in the shower that goes unnoticed.


Gary Ives, a classmate of mine and the world’s biggest jerk had hair in places that would have the Geico caveman pounding his club in amazement. How could anyone be so hairy at eleven years of age?  I made the mistake of asking him about all that growth as we were disrobing from another arduous game of badminton. “Hey jerkball,  are you sure you’re not really twenty-one and were just held back a few years because you thought Neil Armstrong played for the Cubs and Pearl Harbor was the author of The Good Earth?”  For some strange reason, he took offense at that and grabbed my underwear. “OH CRAP, BLOW YOUR DAMN WHISTLE, MR. COHEN. HERE COMES AN ATOMIC WEDGIE!”  It was too late.  My eyeballs practically jumped out of my head, my screams set off the sprinklers and my manhood, obviously still in virgin territory, was in serious jeopardy of never getting in a game…ever.  And just where was Mr. Cohen while this assault was taking place?  Why, he was in his office watching Phil Donahue, of course.


By the way, just for the record, I love gym teachers. I wanted to be one back in the day myself.  I thought the whistle was cool and who didn’t want to come to work wearing sweats and sneakers? But, can you imagine the pressure of having to come up with a physical regimen for an entire semester? It’s a brutal job and that’s why there aren’t more gym teachers. If memory serves correctly, our 5th grade Fall semester looked like this:


Week one:  tumble

Week two:   climb rope

Week three: tumble with rope

Week four: remedial volleyball

Week five: fifty yard walk and run

Week six: dodgeball (kids, take off your glasses!) Week seven:  bounce on trampoline Week eight: bounce on trampoline holding a softball Week nine: softball throw Week ten: retrieve softballs


How many dollars have I spent on therapy concerning the venerable athletic supporter? It was more than a few years ago, why can’t I let it go? Funny this is, they never told us how to wear one. It was assumed that we already knew. Those assumptions were wrong. And what’s with this cup thing? What am I suppose to fill that with. Toilet tissue worked fine for me. I just snapped it on, filled it with toilet paper and I was ready for anything, except of course, Gary Ives.


Let’s not forget the ol’ wet towel snap to fully round out the pleasurable gym experience. Why do young snot nose bullies find that even remotely humorous? Is it because they’ve never been on the receiving end of one? Is it because nobody wants to mess with the bully?  Maybe it’s because that’s as good as their pathetic day will get; inflicting pain on the unsuspecting.  But it’s probably because they know the gym teacher has no plans of blowing his stupid whistle and, truth be told, if he had his way, he would be right there snapping towels himself.


Yes, the memories linger and the therapy continues. And did anybody ever actually learn anything in gym class? No, except it’s best to get a doctor’s note whenever possible. But, after all these years, I take comfort in knowing that my dear classmate, Gary is, more than likely, still in 5th grade and showering with a walker these days. But, if there’s any justice in the world, by now, he’s found himself on the receiving end of several of those atomic wedgies.  “OH DEAR GOD, BE CAREFUL…THE PROSTATE!”


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