Posted by: lylescott89 | November 18, 2011

The 440

Hey kids,

Well it is that time of year again.  I have already begun listening to Christmas music on Sirius channel 17.  And while it’s still a ways off, I am very much looking forward to the arrival of the Sirius Hanukah music which begins December 20th on channel 68.  And yes, they do play substantially more than the dreidel song and Adam Sandler.   L’Chaim!

But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about today.  We all know that I am not an athletic person.  I have no discernable skills in any sport.  Baseball, football, basketball, etc.  You name it and I cannot do it.  Heck, that Air Bud dog is better at sports than I am.  I’ve never liked participating in track and field events either and I do not run.  I would never be caught running a marathon, ½ marathon, 10k, 5k, 1k, etc.  I’m not even going to run to the mailbox even if I know my latest issue of Hooters Magazine is waiting inside.

Knowing all of that it is easy to understand why I dreaded P.E. when I was in elementary school.  One would think I hated basketball the most because I was hit in the head with the ball at least once per game.  But no, that was preferable to the agony of the annual running of the 440.

I went to Gocio Elementary school from first through sixth grades and the 440 was an annual event.  Our P.E. teacher was Mr. Reese and he always called me by my last name which I hated.  Overall I do not think he was a bad guy, but he did yell at me a lot for my incompetence.  (On a side note, for years I was convinced this man had invented peanut butter cups, but I found out later this was not true)  Every spring he would warn us that we’d be running the 440, which was a quarter mile run, and that we would be timed.  I think he said that our times would go on our permanent record, but I don’t really think there ever was such a thing.  At least I’ve never seen it.

Gocio did not have a track to fun this on so Mr. Reese set up a square at the back of the playground that was used for the 440.  Why a square?  Well it probably was way easier for him to set that up compared to an oval.  Essentially we were running in dirt.  The square seemed huge to me at the time, but I am sure my mind is playing tricks on me.  We would have to complete four laps around the square to finish the 440.  I was generally winded about halfway through lap one.

Just for a point of reference here I will tell you that I realize a quarter of a mile is not that big of a deal, however, at the time of being eight, nine, ten years old, it seemed like miles.  I think most kids finished less than two minutes.  I don’t recall ever finishing in less than five.  Stop laughing, I told you I’m athletically pathetic.

Whenever I would think about doing that run I would literally make myself sick with worry.  I absolutely hated it.  Every year it was exactly the same; he’d start all the kids running on the course and would time us all.  I was always the slowest on the course and almost always came in last.  Some kids would be finished by the time I started lap two.  Inevitably each year it would come down to a race to avoid last place between myself and Derek Parker.
I think it was fourth grade when I begged my mother to give me a note to excuse me from P.E. the day of the 440.  She obliged (I had a wonderful mother and I miss her) and I was as happy as a turkey the day after Thanksgiving.  Ah, but let’s remind that turkey that Christmas was coming.  As I sat alone in my classroom while the other kids were all at P.E., Derek came back in with a message from Mr. Reese.  Unfortunately the message was not that he was giving me a lifetime supply of peanut butter cups.  Derek said that Mr. Reese would give me an F if I did not get out here right now and run the 440.  An F was not acceptable to me or my parents so I begrudgingly got out of my seat where I had been reading a book.

I got myself outside and Mr. Reese said I could go in as soon as I finished the 440.  So we lined up at the start and he blew the whistle.  Off went all the other kids leaving Derek and me in the dust.  Just like every other year, the two of us were the last two on the course when something magical happened.  Derek stopped, put his hands on his knees and began throwing up.  It was gross, but I was happy to see it happen because for the first, and only, time I would not finish last in the 440.  I crossed the finish line jubilantly in my triumph.  I was in next to least place and it felt good.  For once I was not the big loser.  I was so happy.  I could not believe it.  Mr. Reese was yelling at Derek for once and not me.  It was a beautiful thing.

True to his word, Mr. Reese said I could go back inside and since it was blisteringly hot I obliged.  I was so hot and thirst I went right to the water fountain to rehydrate before going back to class.  Then I threw up and went home.

Namaste

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Responses

  1. D. W. forwarded this to me at the office and I still say – you write very well and should do a collection of short essays! Very funny. I also hated PE throughout high school (I don’t recall much about grade school PE, just recess!). I even had to take 6 hours of PE in college! I only improved 1/2 of a point in bowling and rolled the ball backwards when my Dad tried to help me, had Professor Archie for archery (honest!), and after swim class (I was a good swimmer, so that was fun) I had square dancing and my wig I wore over my long wet hair flew off my head during a “twirl away”! It was a large class and I offered the entertainment! PE has not been good to me, but at least I did not have a 440 challenge!!

  2. Someday I’ll share my story of taking wiffle ball for college credit.


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