Writing Wrongs

April 15, 2006

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Wait. It was seventh grade. Seventh grade gym class. Slimnastics in seventh grade gym class.

It was only the worst of times. Anno posted something the other day about, in part, Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass and the album Whipped Cream & Other Delights. And I was swept through a magical portal to seventh grade. Unfortunately. Even people who lived charmed lives during seventh grade don’t want to go back. Mine wasn’t even semi-charmed.

Things I remember about seventh grade gym class:

--Powder blue one-piece gym uniforms, in super-absorbent polyester.

--Rumors the gym teacher was a lesbian. It did not help she was, how shall we say, mannish in appearance and mannerisms and wore her hair shorter than most Marines. But let’s face it. The poor woman could’ve resembled Olivia Newton John in her Grease/Let’s Get Physical days and there still would’ve been rumors. I think it’s part of the job description.

--The madras shirt I found in the locker room, a shirt I absolutely loved, which no one claimed, so it was mine, mine, mine and I wore it every Tuesday when I had my weekly paper route.

--That I was never chosen dead last for anything

--Because that honor went to B, who was rounder, shorter, and slower than I was. (Actually, I was a short, slow stick of a girl.)

And oh, yes, slimnastics.

Give that chicken fat back to the chicken and go you chicken fat go!

The battle cry of slimnastics, which is neither slimming, nor very “nastic” as in gymnastics. I mean, gymnastics requires talent, slimnastics, none.

After learning assorted moves to the chicken fat song, we were required to break into groups/pairs, choreograph our own routine and then perform it. I suppose letting the social Darwinism of junior high school social hierarchy determine the groups was a tad easier than listening to all the “Why do we have to have her in our group?”

So B and I teamed up. She was shy and sweet, and actually we ended up as good friends throughout high school. I’d just finished reading a book about a girl in a similar social situation who dubbed herself a “lemon.” So that’s what we called ourselves.

The gym teacher provided the music, to avoid the “We forgot it at home, Miss Smith.” excuses, no doubt. This I remember clearly. Only one album/song per group, probably to save her sanity. By the time the lemons got a crack at the album stack, the pickings were slim (as in slimnastics, ha, ha).

Which was how we ended up concocting a routine to Whipped Cream by Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass.

Does anyone think there’s something ironic, or at least counterproductive, about doing slimnastics to a song called Whipped Cream?

We began the routine on bended knee while rotating our arms wildly to simulate egg beaters (the old fashioned way to make whipped cream) because you wouldn’t use canned whipped cream for a slimnastics routine, would you?

This is honestly all I remember about the actual routine, which is probably best for all concerned.

What I do remember is bizarre. After choreographing the routine, we had to make a poster to represent it. Why? I have no idea. But we had to make one, with the song title, our names, and some artwork.

I think I cut a blob from white construction paper to represent whipped cream (for the record, it could’ve been a meringue or a snowdrift, except the latter usually doesn’t come with a cherry on top) and pasted it to some green paper. B had lovely handwriting and did the lettering. It was a team effort.

Then, these glorious works of art were--much to everyone’s horror--posted in the main display cabinet on the second floor for everyone to see.

Again, the logic behind this escapes me. The only saving grace was they were behind locked, glass doors, and therefore safe from defacement by junior high boys. But I remember the posters being there for what seemed like an eternity and I cringed each time I walked by. (Of course, “eternity” in junior high terms = two weeks).

So, there you have it.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way ...

Direct the other way. How else to describe seventh grade gym class?

Or slimnastics.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 8:25 a.m.