Tuesday, April 8, 2008

If you need a good laugh...

I promised someone that needs a good laugh a funny story. So, for your reading enjoyment, I give you my most embarrassing moment.

An ill-fated gymnast

Just after my sophomore year in high school, I decided that I needed to escape to Japan to be an exchange student for the summer. Mom, to my surprise, agreed all too quickly and before I knew it, I was on my way to a tiny fishing village in South Western Japan called Mitsu. Coming from the arid and parched oasis of Utah, I had never experienced, had never even imagined, the choking effects humidity could have on an innocent desert dweller. (Or the disastrous effects it could have on straight hair.) Thus opens the setting for the most humiliating experience of my young life thus far.
The miserably hot, chokey weather was especially unfortunate seeing as I had only brought one pair of shorts with me. It was my favorite pair- my coral blue Hawaiian trunk bottoms. Even more unfortunate was the fact that I had ripped a huge gash in the rear of these beloved shorts at a student exchange conference in California preceding my departure to Mitsu.
Being the skilled seamstress that I was, and fortunately having all the necessary tools to repair the trunk bottoms, I whipped out my duct tape and slapped a few long pieces of it across my rear. (I was wearing them at the time.) Aside from occasionally sticking to my undies, if I wore my shirt un-tucked no one would notice!
The Japanese school year begins in April, and stops for a short 2 month break in July. I had arrived two weeks before the beginning of the break.

So, off to school I went! I got a uniform and everything.

Unfortunately, gym shorts were not part of the school issued attire. Before lunch we had gym class, and ours was the luxury of changing into our own gym clothes. It was all so exciting, I love gym! Kicking balls and throwing things, I loved all that running around. When I got there the class was working on volleyball. Being one of the taller among the students, (at a whopping 5’5”) I had a great time slamming balls and enjoying victory. This rotation ended two days later and gymnastics began next. Gymnastics? In high school?! This seemed pretty risky to me, but even the not so athletic girls seemed to be okay with it.

Now, I should mention that I was the first exchange student this school had had in 50 years (since World War II). I was the only exchange student in the entire school, and indeed the only American foreigner in much of the region round about. I was such a novelty, that upon my arrival I was asked to give a welcome speech the next day… in Japanese!!! (Which was marvelous, I’m sure. I’d had 2 years of high school Japanese, after all.) So you can imagine that all eyes were on me most of the time.

In the beginning, gymnastics was simple enough; handstands against the wall, that sort of thing.
“This isn’t so bad,” I said to myself, “I can handle this acrobat stuff.”
(Never mind the fact that I kept falling over.)
As I perfected my handstands, the gym teacher pulled out a little leap board thing and a short pummel horse.
Heh, heh. It’s just an object lesson, for inspiration!” I thought.
The teacher explained that we would be doing hand springs next. Of course I understood none of this, so while the girls gathered round as the teacher explained, I was still feeling pretty good about my wall assisted hand stands. Then the teacher started motioning, bending forward, hands high in the air and speaking with sudden bursts of excitement. The girls lined up in front of the little spring board, the mini pummel horse behind it. Anxiety climbing ever higher, I crept to the back of the line and watched, horrified, as the first girl ran to the spring board, jumped, and did a little hand spring off the pummel horse. In shock I saw girl after girl run towards the death trap and land victoriously on the mat. Not always on their feet and many on their bottoms, but all undamaged and in one piece. I stood nervously as the first hand springers lined up again behind me. I haven’t always avoided perilous situations. However, I tend to avoid menacing hazards, so I attempted to not really move up with the line and just let those girls pass me. Alas, all to no avail. They politely shuffled me forward so I wouldn’t miss my turn.
Eminence closed in. As it was nearing my turn, a few of the not so athletic ones ran and sprung, without injury and seemingly effortlessly.
“I can do this,” I lied to myself.
Finally it was my turn, just me and my trusty Hawaiian short. I ran towards the spring board, hesitated, and sheepishly flew right past the dreaded death trap. The teacher had me go back and try it again.
I decided it would be much safer for me to do a tiny hand spring, so as I approached the spring board I readied myself to do the tiniest leap I could, lean onto the pummel, and just sort of roll back onto the mat.
Confident in my new plan to preserve my life, I ran towards the spring board.
I sprung from the springboard and
WHAM! My head pummeled the horse. I flipped backward, and slammed to the ground on my back. My shirt had flipped over my head in the process, and was now pinned to the ground exposing my blue sports bra to the entire class that had gathered around me. Oh! That I could bury myself under the mat and just wait for everyone to go away, but it hurt too much to move let alone burrow. I clawed at my pinned shirt to pull it back over my head. I did the best I could, sort of getting it at least to partially cover my bra, and looked up at the 20 students that had gathered around me. No one dared touch me, maybe they thought I was broken. A few students crouched down to see if I was still alive. I painfully sat up and strained to my feet to prove that what had just happened wasn’t nearly as painful as it had appeared. My shirt was still pulled up a little, and as I feebly got back to my feet, there exposed to the entire class was my coral blue duct taped Hawaiian trunk bottoms.

Funny, no one laughed as they all tucked in their shirts for the next jump.


Beenie said...

HAHAHA!! I remember! I also can think of a few other silly things we all went thru! haha!

K said...

Yeah, Leen, I could write for weeks about our embarrassing moments! Remember that time in church when you were leaning back on your chair?...