When I was a little girl, I really, really wanted to be a gymnast. I thought they just did the most amazing things and looked like they were having so much fun doing all those flips and stuff. I forget which Olympic gymnast inspired me so much but it would have been during the 1968 Games. Anyway, I'm sure I annoyed my mother endlessly asking to learn how to be a gymnast. She found a place that offered lessons on Saturdays at my elementary school, which meant I could walk to them. And I did—I don’t think I missed any or if I did, at least very few.
But the thing is, wishing doesn’t make something so. Never mind that I had all the drive and desire in the world to become a gymnast, I utterly lacked the right kind of body to do much of anything beyond cartwheels and round-offs. I had (and have) no flexibility, and never could master a back bend, let alone back handsprings and so on.
This studio held end-of-year performances where we'd show our parents what we'd learned. The first year, we were all dressed as clowns. Students could buy the clown suits (which were pretty bland) or our parents could sew us clown suits. My mother sewed a really cool suit out of very bright fun material. I’m biased but I do think my suit was the best of all the clown suits.
I don't remember all of the things we did in that first performance but I do recall the diving forward rolls over other students. Now I could dive and roll over three students, but just barely. And somehow during the performance I couldn’t get to the right spot in line so I’d only have three to dive over—and I had to dive over four. Well I didn’t make it. In fact I really splatted and all the parents sort of gasped and groaned on my behalf. I got up and danced around like a clown (hey I was into the part), and I had a nice rug burn on my forehead for a few days.
I think that’s when I formed the idea that I was not athletic. Fast forward to seventh grade when I was running either the 50 or 100 yard dash (I forget which and it doesn’t matter now) and pulled a quadriceps muscle in my left leg. Man that hurt! And it reinforced the idea that I’m not athletic.
Even while in the Army, I never considered myself athletic.
This morning I just ran a 5k race in Kansas City. I had to walk one part of it due to the extreme steepness of the hill. I finished in 33.28 and came in fifth in my division.
At the risk of sounding corny as all get out, today I can say that I am athletic. Good-bye, old tape!