How I almost failed P.E. class

Years ago when I was a student in a small Christian school, our physical education teacher (who happened to live less than a block away from campus), decided to put a gym in his garage so that the 7th-12th grade boys could work out. He filled the small space with donated weight-lifting equipment and exercise machines, and most of the guys were delighted to get to show off their machismo during the last hour of school a couple of days each week.

Me and my two best friends weren’t nearly so excited about the situation. We were the skinny and awkward outsiders who were more concerned with how our hair looked than whether our muscles bulged, and we typically dreaded P.E. class. Not only was the teacher a jerk most of the time, years of being called gay slurs by the older boys hadn’t helped our self-esteem or our desire to hang around and watch them show off for each other.

During our first class at this garage/gym, most of the guys went straight for the weight-lifting equipment and ignored the stationary bikes that were sitting in a row along the back wall. That made it perfectly convenient for the three of us to leave the others to their revelry, and do something that was out of the way and, frankly, not too physically-exhausting. So, we hopped on the bikes and began our usual back-and-forth banter about popular culture.

It wasn’t long before the teacher abruptly appeared in front of us and proclaimed loudly, “When you girls are done with the bikes, some of the guys would like to use them.”

The words stung.

After experiencing years of taunts like fag, queer, homo, and sissy, we were now being humiliated in front of some of those same perpetrators by the very person who was supposed to be our protector. And at a Christian school, no less.

After that incident, I began skipping P.E. class. I would either go to another teacher and claim to not feel good (which was true, in a way), or I would simply disappear into the school library until the day ended. I wound up with a D for what should have been an easy class – which stood out significantly against all of the A’s and B’s on the remainder of my report card.

We moved on from the incident. Two of us came out after high school; one still seems to be in the closet. I can’t remember if we ever even discussed what happened, but I suspect it scarred all of us in some way.

I sometimes see Mr. Teacher around town. He works at a local home improvement store, and he even speaks when I run into him. He probably has no recollection of what he said or how he acted, and he most certainly has no idea how his words can still bother me all these years later.

Fixer upper

Yesterday afternoon we went to see the house that I mentioned in my last post. Honey has been warming up to the idea a little, so we thought it wouldn’t hurt to call up the realtor and see how the place has held up over the years.

I was appalled at the condition of the property. The beer cans strewn all over the lawn should have been a good indicator of what we could expect inside the house. Most people trying to sell a home would attempt to make it as presentable as possible, but this seller is the exception to the rule.

The inside and outside of the property has been so neglected that it’s virtually unlivable. The bathroom sink has been removed and is lying out in the driveway. Buckets are positioned to catch rainwater that seeps through the ceiling, and large sections of the bathroom floor covering have been ripped up. Central heating and air conditioning registers are missing from the ceiling and cover plates are missing from electrical outlets. It reminded me of the homes that get flipped on HGTV.

I know the house still has potential, but it would cost several thousand dollars to bring it back to life. It needs a new roof, new central unit, complete bathroom remodel, new appliances, paint, and who-knows-what-else.

On the plus side, it has a great location, three acres of land in the county, a full basement, and real hardwood flooring. The lawn would be beautiful with some TLC and I would thoroughly enjoy working on it.

When I called my sister to tell her about the condition of the house where we spent most of our teen years, she reminded me of all of the bad memories associated with the place. My parent’s marriage was crumbling, our parent-child relationships were tumultuous, and it was there that I overdosed and subsequently came out to my family. The few good memories have become cloudy over the years.

Part of me feels a need to save the place, since it was the site of so many important events in my personal history. The other part wonders if looking to the past is really the best way to achieve a happier tomorrow.

Honey actually kind of likes the property and thinks it has a homey feel. He said if we bought it, we’d make our own memories.


Neighbor – She’s in the hospital again. We’ve been staying with her at night and her niece has been sitting with her during the day. She seems to be fine at the moment, but will have some tests ran on Monday to see what is causing problems with her digestive system.

School – Honey starts back to college next week. He’s finally settled on a career choice – teaching math. Since it’s one of my least favorite subjects, maybe there is some truth to the whole “opposites attract” argument.

Facebook – I started using the site a few weeks ago despite my negative feelings about social networking. Although I have enjoyed getting back in touch with one of my old friends from school, I’m already considering deactivating my account. Part of me wants to reunite with former acquaintances, but the other part wants to leave the past behind.

A picture is worth…

bub_sisI spent a few hours yesterday evening with a scanner and some old family photos that I picked up at Mom’s on Saturday. They were once part of a wonderful scrapbook that she had spent weeks putting together with mementos and reminders of yesteryear.

Her divorce from Dad left her with no desire to look at all those painful memories anymore, and she took her anger out on the albums by taking them apart and putting the photos in plastic bags. She regrets it now, but the damage is done.

I rescued the photos and have decided to digitize and restore them to the best of my ability. This has included scraping sticker residue off the paper, taping some of them together, removing bend marks and scratches, and adjusting exposure and color.

Mom asked me if it bothered me to look at all those photos of times gone by, and I told her it didn’t. I have to say that after spending some time working with them that they do make me a little melancholy. More about the loss of time and family than anything else.

When I look at pictures of myself from eons ago (like the one above of my sis & me), I can’t help but feel that it isn’t even me. I often have no memory of the boy in the younger photos at all, and feel so removed from that place in time that there remains almost no connection. That beautiful little boy and girl have no idea what the future holds or how they are going to change.

Restoring these photos is a complicated process that will take a huge amount of time, but I think it will be more than worth it to save our memories. After all, sometimes memories are all you have left.