“I don’t want to break the little one’s self esteem.” This was the statement the head soccer coach of my younger sister’s under-7 team made to me when I asked why she was still in the game. As the assistant coach, I was lobbying to get her benched. She was the only child in a sea of green and white uniforms that had her finger shoved so far up her nose, I was convinced that she was going to pull out a piece of her cerebral cortex. Now here she stood choking back tears because the soccer ball, which I estimated to be about the same size as the booger she had just deposited down her throat, had slammed her in the face. My efforts were wasted. Coach not only left her in the game, but she was gifted the “Most Improved Player” award. I was dumfounded. Let me get this right. A child can stand in the middle of a live soccer game, dig for gold up her sniffer, get laid out by a ball that everyone else saw coming a mile away, and STILL be awarded for “most improved player”? What was the improvement? She didn’t bleed on impact?
Perhaps it’s because I’m a child of the 80’s where we had to actually try out for the team, but I am baffled by today’s youth sports. Every child makes the team, gets equal playing time, and receives an award (if not multiple) despite talent, or lack-thereof. Just this past month my nephew and his soccer team have been handed four trophies; “Last place”, “Best Attempt at Winning”, “Most Spirited Team” and “Best Show of Sportsmanship”. Hell, if that’s the case, why not just hand me an award for “Most Foul-Mouthed, Enthusiastic, Aunt?”
As a child my parents highly encouraged me to participate in physical activity. I’m not sure if it was because I could swim without drowning, that I could deliver a mean, accurate shot to my brother’s nuts, or just from the sheer fact that I already had three failed attempts at gymnastics (the tights gave me early onset camel toe) but I ended up trying out, and making, the swim and soccer teams. Do you think anyone gave me a ribbon for putting on my bathing suit and goggles? Perhaps a certificate for most yellow cards issued in a season? No. There were no awards handed out for “Most Diligent Effort” or “23rd Place”. If I was on the losing end I acted like any other self-loathing kid at that time. I gagged my emotions with a cupcake and wept in front of the television.
Kids nowadays seem so fragile and easily offended. By the time they get rejected from their first job interview, they’re prepared to sue, and most likely win, for damages caused by emotional distress. I am just throwing caution to the wind here, but wouldn’t it seem extra gratifying to EARN accolades? If that weren’t the case for me, I wouldn’t be able to comfortably present myself to the world as the 40-year-old, “no shame in my game”, insensitive, sarcastic bitch, loser that I am today.
Now, after having said all of that, I’m also very realistic. There is no going back to the 80’s (which is a damn shame because my hair was AMAZEBALLS at that time) and positive reinforcement, no matter how much one sucks, is all the rage. So I’ve hopped on, and stayed on, the bandwagon of “Hey, good job, last place is still finishing” known as Crossfit.
I am a few months shy of my one-year mark at Wildfire Crossfit and I have yet to win anything or beat anybody and that is totally cool with me. With Crossfit I know that I am a winner just for showing up at the box. That’s the beautiful thing about this sport. Who really gives a rats ass that I still can’t get a pull-up without jumping, or that I lost a piece of my soul when I entered the Paleo challenge last August? I’m still here. I haven’t quit, and all the coaches are just so damn upbeat about all my last place efforts. How does one even contemplate walking away from something this dreamy?
Let’s take yesterday’s WOD “Cindy” for example. That was a hella good time. “Sin-dy”, as Coach Skip refers to her, is a 20-minute AMRAP consisting of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 air squats.
Before I proceed, allow me to explain briefly to those who haven’t choked on the Crossfit Kool-Aide, what an AMRAP is. It stands for “As Many Rounds As Possible.” I tend to gravitate more towards these WODS, as opposed to one that is “for time”, simply because I can workout next to the fittest athlete in the class and be like “Yo…good job…I see we finished at the same time. Awesome.” It has that “winner” feel without actually having to be one.
So here I am at 6am, rolling out and waiting for the 5:30 class to end. I check out the board and see that “Cindy” is on tap. You should note that I haven’t actually done this WOD before, but, as I will quickly learn, it's one of those signature Crossfit workouts that you don't think will be that bad until the buzzer signals you to start and then you remember that you weigh close to 200 lbs. so any body weight movement can, and will, crush your ribs and your spirit.
We start with 5 pull-ups, which, if you’ll recall, I just told you that I couldn’t do. Another great thing about an AMRAP, however, is what I refer to as the “blend and snap” (not to be confused with the “bend and snap” in “Legally Blonde”.) This is perfect for a movement like this. Starting with the blend, I hang onto the bar, swing myself around a little, and put on my game face (which, photographic evidence has shown, is nothing more than a look of excruciating abdominal pain.) Just blend. Fit in. Act natural.
Moving on, the 10 push-ups was actually a true win. Thank God for an athletic background and large breasts. The minute the sisters hit the floor, the faster I can push back up. I feel sorry for those flat chested Games athletes with the rockin’ thighs and tight, perfectly form-fitted booty shorts. It must suck to have to complete a push-up with that extra inch to hit the bottom. I win! Interestingly enough, however, not much fanfare was made about my perfect push-up. Note to self to fuck that up next time around.
Finally, I nailed the 15 air squats. While I am not entirely sure how, I am guessing it's from the 40 years of experience I have squatting to sit on my ass. I wonder if I can get some high-fives for this one.
Enter the snap. This is when the buzzer has gone off, I am laying face down gasping for air in my own cesspool of sweat and tears, and I am mentally and emotionally drained from the realization that my 14 rounds were just trumped by 24 rounds by the rest of the class. Not to fret, however. A huge, heart-felt, “Congratulations, you’ve nailed it!! I have NEVER seen an almost pull-up that AMAZING before!!” has made this punch to the ego all worthwhile.
Come to think if it, maybe society is on to something. Perhaps losing is the new winning.
I am so fucking excited!! I have to use that word now because it may not be deemed acceptable in my new "Humor Writing Level I" course that I just started Tuesday.
Long story short (because I'd rather get to sharing all about "Operation Heterosexual" as titled above), I've been experiencing writer's block since May. I bitched, moaned and complained about it. The Universe intervened via the suggestion of a dear friend to sign up for a writing class. I did. It started. I have my first assignment due and, as promised, I am sharing it with all of you.
The assignment is to write about an aspect of my life with humor and exaggeration. That's not exactly difficult given my sarcastic ways, but I'm jazzed nonetheless. So, here is what I submitted; God help this poor Professor.
My youth was every teenage boys dry dream. Awkward stages happen, yes, but these were awkward decades. Think of the movie “Weird Science” being edited by a team of baby dykes. I played the starring role of Wyatt Donnelly and, to be clear, the nerd version not the cool version. Go ahead and Google Ilan Mitchell-Smith’s character. It’s like looking at a male version of me circa 1990 minus the braces and signature mullet.
It started right out of the womb when I was born bald and remained that way for the next two years. My Mom would slap the nearest bow on my head in hopes to steer the comments away from “Oh, I love your child’s pink dress. Did he pick that out himself?” and more towards “Your daughter is the most beautiful little girl in all the land.” I was adorable regardless, but that never seemed to be enough. The stray neighborhood cat looked more feminine than I did.
Fast forward to Elementary School where one morning was spent wailing because it was school picture day and, come hell or high water, I was going to look as pretty as all the other girls in my blue doily dress, white tights, and brown shoes. I am convinced that those tears were less because of the dress and more because even I knew that brown and doily was not a good match. The underlying issue, however, was that I wished I had the language and knowledge then to just say to my Mom, “Look, putting me in a dress isn’t going to change my desire to look up other girls’ dresses.”
Now here I am in Junior High School and, not only am I willing myself to like boys, but I am trying desperately to fit in. Cue the dreaded “P” word, “pocketbook”. This is what my Mom called it and I was told that I absolutely needed to carry it. Apparently hauling maxi pads in the front pocket of my jeans was beginning to make people question what was really happening “down there”. I couldn’t fight it any longer. It was time to start acting like a lady; not only did that mean carrying a purse (another vile “P” word) but it also meant war paint. Known by some as make-up.
I slathered on baby blue eye shadow, velvety red lipstick for ladies over 80, and blush so perfectly round and pink that it looked like someone dipped my cheeks into frosting filled cupcake tins. I was what one would consider a HOT. MESS. That did not stop me from trying though. I was almost there. I had the perfectly coiffed mullet, the handbag (different name, same dirty feel) and the war paint.
One more final step before “Operation Heterosexual” would be complete. Kiss a boy.
The mere thought of this event still triggers my gag reflexes. Since I cannot conjure up a winning way to describe the anguish of this kiss, I am just going to lay it all out there for you. The kid reeked! To my knowledge, soap and deodorant were on the market back then. Toothpaste and toothbrushes were not novelty items either. Once he strategically placed himself firmly on the rock to meet me at eye level, he moved in for the kill and I honest to God threw up in my mouth (and no, not because he had a penis.) I swear I tasted leftover liver and an onion with a side order of what I believe was asparagus. I’m not entirely sure, but it’s a great educated guess based on what I could gather looking at his braces.
In the spirit of giving this smooch the good ole college try, I mustered on and our tongues touched. I can only imagine how bad it was for him because I sure as hell wasn’t doing any favors for our passion when my tongue decided to go limp. I willed that sucker to move around a little bit and show some signs of life, but it wasn’t happening. We remained there in an awkward lip-lock until he slipped off his pedestal and into the tree behind him.
Sweet Jesus, there is a God and He loves the Homo! My beau honed in for more but I simply couldn’t go on. I threw in the proverbial towel and just flat out said, “This isn’t for me.” As expected, he didn’t handle my rejection very well which was evidenced by the nasty note that fell out of my locker the following morning which said, and I quote, “Your tits are too small. I’ve seen bigger lumps in oatmeal and you can’t kiss for shit!”
For starters, my tits have always been awesome. Even now they enter a doorway before I do, perky and ready to party. Other key points to consider; he was standing on a rock, hands in his pockets, and still chewing last nights chow. Not to mention, prior to this revolting encounter, I had already made out with my pillow, my elbow, Tender Heart Care Bear, and a picture of Jo Polniaczek in Tiger Beat magazine, without so much as one objection.
For those still wondering, “Operation Heterosexual” was a bust.