Friday, April 27, 2007

All in all...

All in all I thought that went pretty well. Didn't you? There were a couple of grammatical errors but it was certainly understandable.

Ron .... OUT

This ... is a test ...

This is a test of the "I wasted time and now doth time waste me" blog network.

It is 8:48 AM. Traditionally my brain does not function before 11ish. Substitute teaching has forced me to begin my thought processes as early as 5:30 AM. A-w-k-w-a-r-d. However, since I have a little time before leaving for today's assignment I thought I would run a test blog to see if I am now capable of not only rational thinking but creative thinking in the morning. And so I am going to tell you the story of my run-in on Metro-Link yesterday. I will read this test blog when I return home this afternoon to determine the success or failure of this test.

I am now shifting from "rational thinking" to "creative thinking." Here goes ...

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(This has been a test of the "I wasted time and now doth time waste me" blog network. Had this been an actual blog you would have been instructed in blog safety and proper use of bloggage. This is only a test!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

P.E. Revenge (or "how I made up for the lost years")

I am physically educated. Oh yes I am. Today I was the teacher of a physical education class at a local jr. high school. You know what that means? I GOT THE WHISTLE! Can you believe that? Obviously the school district did nothing to check out my previous experience in the world of "physical education." If they had, here is what they would have learned.

In elementary school they made us climb a rope from the floor of the gym to the rafters on the ceiling. I swore to get even someday. I hated that cursed rope. I pulled, tugged, jerked and used every other maneuver I could think of and still just b-a-r-e-l-y managed to get there. It was ugly. Some kids seemed to just ... float to the top. They did not get the "gravity memo." When it was my turn to climb the rope people went to lunch or took a nap. They checked back in on me every now and then to see if I was still up there. I dreamed at night about ways to tie that rope into effective knots around their necks.

Todays school ... no rope. No revenge. (Insert reflective sigh here)

In junior high we had to play basketball. It is a well-documented fact that nobody in my gene pool has ever made a lay-up. Never. Ever. Not one of us. And yet gym teachers continue to make our families children take the round ball in their grip, dribble up court and stumble their way toward the net only to FAKE a jumping leap that usually lands them on their bottom side and the ball in the bleachers rather than either achieving its intended flight path. Silly.

And then there was high school. Oh, how I hated high school physical education classes. Our school was big enough to have multiple teachers. I seemed to always get Mr. Farko. (His name has been changed because he impregnated a cheerleader the year after I graduated and I don't want to get him mad IF he is out of prison. He is probably 80 years old but this guy would hunt me down, slit my juggler and gut me like a deer in the forest, load me onto the back of his truck and mount my head over his fire place.) Coach Farko was the most sadistic individual I have ever met. He was an officer in the marine reserves and he thought we were his new recruits. I remember the year I had P.E. during first hour. That's about 8:00 AM. We would change into our gym clothes and gather in the gym under a basketball net. The coach would show up much like Rambo. You never knew where or how he would enter the gym. He simply materialized. Darndest thing I ever saw. When Coach Farko blew his whistle we lined up against the wall. The next time he blew the whistle we ran to the nearest free throw line, touched it and ran back to the wall. Then we ran to center court, touched it and ran back to the wall. We repeated this procedure at the far free throw line and the wall at the opposite end of the gymnasium. The rules were simple. When somebody puked we could stop running. Pretty clear cut, concise, to the point. No puke? You run. Puke? Everybody stops running. Our moving on to actual physical education had to be paid for in vomit.

I have been out of high school for thirty-four years and I still do not understand the point. I would, however, like to point out that I NEVER ONCE WAS THE GUY THAT PUKED. It's the only point of pride I ever got out of P.E.

Until today.

Because today ... I got the whistle.

I was given this assignment yesterday. I dreamed last night about what I was going to do to the pooooor kids that were about to fall under my iron fisted control. I woke up drooling. Ok, I often wake up drooling. But this was different. I was drooling with anticipation.

I arrived at the gym at the designated time. The kids came in ten minutes later. The kids. The victims. MY victims. I took attendance. I lined them up. I looked them in the eyes ... knowing what was about to happen.

And I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. Dang. I tried. I REALLY tried. Darn it, I wanted puke. I was OWED puke! Somebody needed to throw up! But it wasn't in me. You know why? It seems that the other coach that works at the jr. high took the kids that wanted to play softball out with him. He left me the kids that did not want to play. I looked at the notes I had been left by the sick teacher I was replacing. She asked me to walk with them.


Take them outside and ... walk.

I felt sorry for them. If you lined them up there wouldn't be one rope climber. No lay-ups or slam-dunks through the hoop. These were the kids that couldn't.

So I decided then and there to make them the kids that could. Oh, I couldn't teach them to be athletes. But I could teach them to shine. I could help them make the soft ball playing jocks look weak. Before we left the gym for our walk I lined them up, two by two, into a line that stretched about fifteen pairs long. I stood beside them much like a drill instructor stands beside his new recruits. I made them be quiet and listen to me. I told them that today ... today WE would rule. Today WE would rock the Physical Education world! And, while we marched in place, I taught them this Marine Corp style marching chant that they repeated after me...

We're the kids from Lewis and Clark (we're the kids from Lewis and Clark)
He's making us walk until it's dark (he's making us walk until it's dark)
We just wanna go to the gym (we just wanna go to the gym)
Beat the life outta him (beat the life outta him)
SOUND OFF (one! two!)
SOUND OFF (three! four!)
SOUND OFF (one two three four, one two ... THREE FOUR!)

I looked at my recruits ... uh ... I mean kids. They were smiling. Their faces were shining. They looked happy. Like the actually WANTED to go outside and walk today! I blew the whistle and we marched out of the gym, through the doors and directly toward the softball field, chanting all the way. We marched and chanted our way all of the way around the field and off into the distance. I told them to stop chanting and we walked a mile or so. As we did I made my way up and down the line of kids. We talked. I learned their names (which I promptly forgot.) I asked about their hobbies and what they were going to do with their summer. We laughed. And they felt good about themselves. A half hour later as we made our return approach to the school we fell back into line, back into cadence, and back into our chant. We marched around the softball players one more time and made our way into the gym for them to change clothes before the ball guys and girls came inside. I learned that they didn't like to have to change clothes with the ball players. And I understood. So we "accidentally" got back about five minutes early. I repeated my routine four times with four different classes. Each time the kids acted like I had taken them on a field trip to the moon.

Later in the day I found myself in the teacher's lounge. The only other person there was the soft ball playing coach. He was eating his lunch and reading the newspaper. He had not spoken to me all day (though he did grunt once when I asked him a question.) I bought a bottle of water, said hello to him, and walked to the door not expecting a response.

"Hey." I looked at the coach. Was he speaking to me? Indeed. He was gazing at me over his paper. "I like what you did with the kids today."

"Thanks. We had fun." I left the room.

I walked into the hall. A kid was coming down the stairs. I don't know him. I don't recall his name. I guess he was in one of my P.E. classes. He shouted out, "Hey, Mr. Woods! You are my favorite sub ever!" I smiled and told him he was my favorite kid ever. My legs were tired, my voice gravely, my arms sunburned.

All in all ... it was a very good day.