Take me out to the ball game!

Mar. 15, 2014 @ 11:05 AM

Last week, I covered classes for a friend who teaches high school PE. I don’t normally cover anyone in PE, because I hate to sweat, whereas sweating seems to be the goal of Physical Education classes. You know, all that heart-rate-target-zone stuff, which, please, I can’t ever get the math right anyway, so I shouldn’t be expected to, like, do it. I also can’t do the math for the “Body Mass Index,” thank God, so I can’t be blamed for not adhering to that, either. 

(And, by the way, the term “Body Mass Index”? Why would anyone invent such totally vile words as ‘BODY MASS’ when describing a body’s ‘makeup’? ‘BODY MASS’ brings to mind an 18-wheeled long-haul semi, for pete’s sake! Or, an Amtrak locomotive, or the Queen Elizabeth II, or maybe a stadium-sized New York-style double-cream-cheesecake? … hmm … I forget where I was going with this.) 
So, generally I say NO when I’m asked to cover a PE class. I say it sweetly, I say it with a smile, but I say it loudly. Last week was an exception, which I only make for friends … good friends … friends who pay me big money ... just kidding, she’s a teacher, where would she get big money?
The problems began almost immediately, though. In her note to me, my friend said to have the kids play softball, and asked me to pitch. I instantly declined, due to the fact that I like my face the way it is. I refuse to be the victim of catastrophic injury more than once every 10 years. So, I had to choose a student pitcher. There were many takers, all male, although most couldn’t pitch worth squat -- I played catcher in high school; I know a good pitch when I see one, which I did not.   
But it was a beautiful, warmish day, and at least all of the guys were into the game. The girls were only interested in forming little groups, gossiping, putting on sunscreen, fixing their hair, and trying to sit down in their Toddler-2-sized shorts without suffering liver damage. I put a stop to this right away, telling them all that no one was batting twice until everyone batted once, including the girls. 
Huge eye-rolls among the females, and gigantic groans from the boys. I didn’t care. I was in character, deeply in touch with my “inner umpire,” hearing the organ and the roar of the crowd, smelling the roasted peanuts and cold beer. For a moment, I thought of sending the first-baseman to the mini-mart (he was really getting on my nerves) but of course, high-schoolers shouldn’t buy beer, or drink beer, or even know how to spell beer … not that I ever buy or drink or spell beer.
After my pronouncement, the girls had a new goal: Looking the cutest while batting. This involved copious reluctance to approach home plate, tossing one’s hair hard enough to cause concussion, tugging on shorts, and screeching girlishly as they flail the bat around in the general vicinity of every pitched ball. If they ever accidentally connected, they would prance girlishly around the bases, not quite as fast as I myself can run, which is a tad slower than my friend’s dead turtle.
With every play, I shouted calls, heckled batters and spouted witticisms like I belonged to the Cardinals, who might now be very sorry they passed on me. It was astounding how the old rules came back to me – so some of them weren’t exactly major-league-sanctioned, so what? The point is, I was BACK!
Then came weights class. Most of the students were athletes, mostly football, mostly male.  (Actually, there were only three girls in two classes, but they were there to work, not primp and fluff – they were WOMEN, I heard them ROAR!) My friend’s note had given me the particular exercises students should do, and assured me that each knew how much weight he/she should lift. 
But this is not a class that a mother should teach. I tried biting my lip every time a boy picked up a barbell filled with enormous round weights and started pressing his chest (or whatever you call it) but invariably, I would leap toward him screaming “Put that down RIGHT NOW, young man!” 
I spent the entire period imagining my call to 911: “Help! There’s a boy stuck under several enormous round weights that I told him to put down, but did he listen? Of course not! And, why?! Because he’s a man-in-training, and real men never listen to women, do they?! Well, I bet he’ll listen after his lungs explode, won’t he!” 
When the bell rang, I breathed a huge sigh of relief -- and headed straight for the mini-mart.

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at chh@heraldsun.com, or by visiting her website at www.vickiwentz.com.