Home > Bitching, Traumatic Childhood > The Time I Tried to Do Gymnastics

The Time I Tried to Do Gymnastics

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

For some reason, it seemed like a lot of my friends growing up were athletically inclined.

They could run, they could jump, they could climb. They could do goddamn cartwheels without a thought in the world.

I was a different kind of child. One more suited for playing with Legos alone than tumbling along in the grass. I bruised easily, and was a total wuss with pain. But I was always jealous of those who could do cartwheels, for some reason. I thought if I could just do THAT, my problems with being an unpopular weird girl would all end. Yeah, that was the ticket. Just a cartwheel.

I tried to learn. Oh, how I tried. I have scars to this day from running into coffee tables as I tried to fling myself end over end. Usually I’d just panic halfway through the cartwheel and roll into an awkward somersault that ended with my head impacting with a wall. But I just couldn’t accept that I wasn’t made to be the next Olympic gold medalist.

There was actually a professional gymnast at my school who would do handsprings before class and the uneven bars afterwards. She had grand Olympic ambitions, and I liked her because she was the only person in my grade shorter than me. Her extreme physical activity halted puberty in its tracks, so for a few delightful years I was only the second shortest girl in my class. Though eventually her Olympic dreams crumbled, she quit gymnastics, and then shot up over six inches and gained about 30 pounds. Damn.

Anyway, I even went so far as to go to a week-long gymnastic camp one summer. Once the instructors there realized I was more likely to harm the other children than successfully perform any kind of athletic maneuver, they just plopped me in the corner. But one day they tried hooking me up to a harness attached to the ceiling, and told me that I would be practicing cartwheels ALL DAY. Come hell or high water, I was finally going to do it. But after five solid hours of watching me fall flat on my ass and cry, everyone gave up on me. It was hopeless.

Sadly, in middle school we were required to do gymnastics routines in gym class. We were to pick our own music, then plan a routine that would dazzle our teacher and the other students. Most of the other girls approached this enthusiastically, while the boys mostly grumbled about having to roll around on a mat. I was petrified.

I teamed up with my best friend, and we chose “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors as our soundtrack. We practiced for what felt like weeks, where I just repeated somersaults (the only move I could do) over and over again while my friend did cartwheels, backbends, and other more impressive gymnastic maneuvers. I was determined not to let her down – and not let myself down. Even if all I could do was jump and do somersaults, I was going to do it WELL, damn it.

Finally the big day came, and we were both nervous. My friend because she knew I sucked at gymnastics, and me for the same reason. I think we both knew I was going to fuck it up before we even got on the mat. Halfway through the song, I completely lost my mind and forgot the routine. I started vaguely spinning in place, which screwed up my friend as well. The rest of the routine dissolved into awkward skipping around while the Spin Doctors sang cruelly in the background. Since we had both forgotten how to end the travesty at this point, I eventually just collapsed on the ground and decided to call it a day. My friend followed soon after, the music stopped, and there was stunned silence mixed with nervous laughter. Soon the whole class was laughing at our folly, and we slunk off the mat in shame.

To this day, the song “Two Princes” causes waves of embarrassment and remorse to wash over the both of us.

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  1. January 25, 2012 at 10:22 am

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