A humorous look at the little things in life

Field days weren’t for the faint of heart May 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashleyolsonrosen @ 8:25 pm
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Recommended wine for today’s entry: 2008 Estancia Pinot Grigio. The Web site’s description: “Lively flavors of pink grapefruit, citrus and melon, with a long, bright green apple finish.” When we finally had a sunny day last weekend, I opened a bottle of Estancia and sipped it while watering plants on the deck. The best part of summer! I already bought another bottle…

I passed my kids’ old elementary school earlier this week and it was field day. There was a huge inflatable slide and the fire engines were dousing the squirming, giggling, designer-clad kids. A number of them had blue and red ribbons pinned to their shirts: Nowadays, everyone’s a winner. Well, it certainly was NOT like that back in the day.

At the end of fourth grade at St. Matthews Elementary, there was fun aplenty, at least for those who had completed the timed multiplication table test. I think we had like all year to pass this test. You remember the one, where you had to answer all 100 problems in under a minute or something? Well, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the year it was just me and Otie (I remember her name because we spent a lot of recess time together taking these damn tests). Anyway, my last stab at it was on field day and either I passed it or Miss Heiskel just felt too sorry for me. Bottom line – I got to go to field day, but I was already a bit jittery and out of sorts.

Jittery and out of sorts and weighing in at around 55 pounds. This was soon after I got my now infamous photo-gray glasses, thick as a porterhouse, that turned pitch black at the first ray of sun. (The conversion back was not nearly as fast, leading to quite a few ugly incidents with unforgiving cinderblock school walls.)

So if  you’re playing Red Rover, one of the fave games of the 70s, who’s gonna be your first victim? Duh. It went like this: “Red Rover, Red Rover, we dare the skinny little idiot who can’t pass the math test over!” Me, stunned that anyone besides Otie knew I existed, puffed up with pride. So popular. Must be the new bad-ass glasses. Anyway, I backed up about five steps, got into some semblence of “starter position” I’d seen at my cousin’s track meet, and dashed, arms pumping, scrawny legs scrambling, toward the perfect junction of a girl and a sissy-looking boy … closer … closer … now I can see their grips tighten, their teeth clench … CLOTHESLINED! I fall backward, legs still kicking in the air, my Adams apple surely crushed and my glasses flung back toward my exasperated teammates. Damn that Miss Heiskel for letting me come to field day.

Then the field day police — the Hitler-like “woman” PE teacher, who was even more remniscent of Hitler in the facial hair department than in the nasty attitude department — sent us on to our next challenge.

Oh, no, there were no inflatable slides here. These were the 70s. We were lucky to have one of those pink bouncy balls that left your hands smelling like new rubber for the rest of the day. They were great for four square, a wonderful game of skill and cunning, but more often the sadists with the whistles sent us out to play the worst game imaginable for a wimpy paranoid kid. That’s right. DODGEBALL. I can’t imagine that nowadays they play this — lining everyone up and sticking one poor child in the middle, with the only goal to knock the crap out of them. The boys didn’t just try to hit you, they tried to maim you.

I remember ducking and dodging, artfully using my ballet skills to evade the ball … for about 60 seconds, then WHOOSH! A solid blow to the midsection lifted me off my feet and flung me backwards about eight feet, leaving me splayed out on the concrete, spread eagled with the wind knocked out of me.

I think the timed multiplication tests were more fun. I only urinated on myself a LITTLE during those.

The good news was, in the water balloon toss, the boys only tried to hit the girls who were getting boobs.

When it was over, we all enjoyed some warm Tang with the crystals forming an undissolved sediment layer in the bottom of the Dixie cups. 

My friend Amy had a camera that day. (Back then, for you youngsters, that was unusual.) About a year ago, she unearthed one of the pictures. With a little thought, I recognized the people in the back row — laughed at how they’d changed — all cheerful reminiscing, until I spotted a waif in the front row. “Who’s that mongrel?” I asked, pointing to the ragamuffin with dirty blonde hair that looked like it hadn’t been brushed in a week (in all likelihood it hadn’t). The kid was squinting like Mr. Magoo, like she’d never seen a camera. Yeah, you guessed it. My Stevie Wonder glasses clutched in my grubby little paw confirmed it. And the imprint of the nerdy boy’s watch, white against my bright red Adam’s apple.

Yep, back then, field day, like life, was tough on the little guys. But I think we all learned lessons from the competitive spirit. It made us tougher somehow. Yeah, that’s what Mrs. Hitler told me.


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