Even before the Penn State scandal, I’ve never fully trusted coaches. If you’re like me — and for your sake, I sincerely hope not, you always had a slightly antagonistic relationship with your gym coaches. Gym was that special hour of the day when jocks got to feel better about themselves, cute girls got to vex boys who watched them gradually fill out their gym clothes each day, and the unathletically inclined got to humiliate themselves in pointless fitness tests that probably inspired our current interrogation techniques.
When I was in seventh grade, Mr. Clue, fit the stereotype of the sort of odd gym teacher to every inch of his painted-on, Richard Simmons shorts. You might ask, “What kind of guy teaches gym to 12 year olds in short shorts?” Well, the kind of guy who announces to the male students that he’s going to start keeping the gym towels in his office. Apparently, there had been a rash of towel thefts. It didn’t make sense to us either. Keep in mind that showering around other boys was traumatic enough. “The Exorcist” wasn’t as frightening as the first time you did this. None of us wanted to add the prospect of racing into Coach Clue’s office dripping wet for a towel.
After a brief huddle and discussion, our representive told Coach Clue that we didn’t want to do this. He insisted. Kids were apparently selling gym towels in Chinatown or something like that. Our response was to stop showering after gym. Problem solved. Not really, as the next week, Coach Clue gave a stirring lecture on the value of hygiene. At this point, I had no choice but to tell my mother. She was horrified and wondered why I didn’t tell her sooner. I recall saying that I didn’t fully trust my own judgment about what was appropriate or not — after all, I’d though breaking that vase was a good idea.
I’m not sure what my mother did but we didn’t have to go into Coach Clue’s office for towels anymore.
Two years later, I learned the value of procrastination from Coach Stroller. Mr. Stroller looked like one of the officers from “C.H.I.P.S” — blonde hair, sunglasses, stoic gaze. My freshman year of high school, I was dealt the cruel hand of having first period gym. That’s a nightmare. No 14 year old should wear sweat pants publically until about 5 pm each day when his body is almost behaving normally.
Coach Stroller tried to add a bit of academia to gym class so you had to take notes while he gave a lecture on some sport or other. One Friday, Coach Stroller asked the class if we wanted to take notes on football today or on Monday. The class went with Monday. Why not put it off until after the weekend? However, I had steeled myself for note-taking on Friday. My thought was to get it over with and enjoy “Golden Girls” on Saturday. But I was outvoted.
The next day, Coach Stroller was arrested for having an affair with a student. We never had to take those notes. This was a tragedy, of course, and I felt for the student, but I was very glad not to have to take those notes.