I am not athletic. Not in any way, shape, or form. True, I am a dancer, but if you ask me to catch a cane in the choreography, you are taking your life in your own hands. I’ve always been that way, for as long as I can remember.
PE was a horrifying experience in elementary school. In third grade, I staged a sit-in in the cafeteria when they said that you couldn’t get an A in gym if you couldn’t climb the rope all the way to the ceiling. Kickball was embarrassing, but dodge ball was the worst. Having people throw things at me, trying to hit me, with the expectation that if I didn’t get hit in the face, I was supposed to throw it back at them and actually hit their gleefully gloating faces, was a weekly torture.
Until I realized that I was a girl. And a boy can have a crush on a girl. And when a boy has a crush on a girl, he’ll make sure the balls don’t hit her in the face. No, not in a dirty way, I was in third grade. So, I was super nice and flirted with, well, not the most athletic kid in class. All the girls wanted him. But the one who was good at sports but a little heavier and therefore self-conscious.
I gave him snacks and told him how good he was at everything. Then he liked me, and all I had to do to survive dodge ball was to hide behind him! I was a genius. By fourth grade, he was forcing the other kids to pick me for kickball. If I didn’t get put on his team, he refused to play his best and kicked every ball straight to the pitcher, or roller or whatever you call it to catch.
I had learned to work my feminine wiles to protect myself and improve my social standing. You might call it a blow to feminism, but I call it an A in gym class.