Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fitness Test


I took this down near Freeport Landing in a neighboring county. Family legend has it that my great-great grandfather got off the boat from Germany at this landing. Family legend also has it that we're related to Wayne Newton, but this is neither here nor there.

I was over in this neck of the woods because I was on my way home from lunch with blogging friend Big Hair Envy. She's starting off the new year by getting in shape and eating right. Speaking of getting in shape, here's a story about those physical fitness tests some of us had to take in our youth.


When I transferred from Gloucester Day School to Mathews Intermediate School in 7th grade, one of the things I remember was the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, where students were tested on overall fitness. The goal was to exceed certain government-determined, minimum standards in various events like running, sit ups, relay-type sprints, etc.If you passed, you won a nice certificate that got stuffed in the attic along with the plaster cast of your hand print from kindergarten and every piece of "artwork" you ever created from birth to adulthood. If you didn't pass, here's what happened: (insert sound of crickets chirping here). So really, the only thing accomplished was a whole lot of testing and tracking of results.

I was/am very competitive and enjoyed every test, except for that agonizing flexed arm hang. I would rather have hung by my legs upside down on that bar for two days than do a flexed arm hang, which is essentially the equivalent of doing a chin up except you are timed on how long you can hold your chin above the bar without slipping below the bar or crying. The minimum amount of time to pass the requirements for the flexed arm hang is however long it takes for your eyes to begin bleeding and gray matter to start oozing out your ears from all the straining and lack of oxygen to the head.

My favorites were any of the sprinting events – the shuttle run was awesome. Sit ups were “eh,” and the distance running was tolerable.(Anything over 100 yards is considered long distance to me.)

One year in high school, my friend—I’m going to call her Ralph because that’s what we called each other, long story for another time—and I were paired up to do the sit up tests. Person One would lie down on the gym floor, knees bent; Person Two had to hold their ankles—and count—while Person One did as many sit ups as possible in the amount of time allotted.

Now my friend Ralph always made me laugh—always. She could have her own comedy show and never have to work her “real” job again. She weaves a story like a Persian carpet, and you can count on it being hilarious. In other words, she didn't have to do much of anything to elicit a laugh from me.

Anyway it came time for me to hold Ralph’s ankles for the timed sit up test. When they said, “Go,” she started to do her sit ups as fast as she could while I counted. She really gave it her all. Did she ever.

On about the eighth sit up as she was straining to pull herself off that gym floor what did I hear? What? Oh yes, that’s right. She passed gas. Loudly. And I was poised right on the receiving end of it while holding her ankles and counting out loud.

At first, we locked eyes in shock and disbelief. Then we began to snort and guffaw, but we realized she was still being timed and stifled our laughs. She turned beet red, tears streaming down her face as she struggled to complete the test. I did everything in my power to suppress my loud, boisterous laugh as Mrs. Thomas paced slowly and methodically back and forth with her stopwatch.

I do not remember if Ralph passed the sit up test or not, because you can rest assured I was not focused on counting after that happened. We probably made up a number and reported it, praying we wouldn't bust out into laughter.

I could never do a sit up again without thinking of this, which is all well and good because I avoid sit ups at all costs.

If there were a presidentially mandated minimum requirement for memorable events, this one would far exceed it in my book. I'll take my certificate now.

27 comments:

Grandma J said...

The visual image in my mind of that story cracks me up. I can just see the two of you ready to bust a gut laughing.
I'm willing to bet Mrs. Thomas was wise to both of you.

Val said...

HILARIOUS! now that was a Persian Carpet of note - definitely collectible...hahaha...thanks for the laughsxx

Anonymous said...

Just the metion of Mrs. Thomas is enought to make you have a gut busting laugh before your story is even told, but your story if very very funny Too!!!

Icey said...

Too funny! I remember those tests well. At our elementary school they gave out a presidential physical fitness patch which i always just missed getting. Probably because I have always run like I have a piano strapped to my back, only without the piano. Funny nobody complains about having national physical fitness standards but god forbid we do the same for reading and math ... I'm surprised they even still give out the physical fitness prizes, what with concern about every child's self esteem. Thankfully my psyche was not too terribly damaged from lack of patch year after year ...
WOW - got a little political for a Sat AM!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ - I will never, ever forget the look on her face when she was trying to keep from busting out laughing. Priceless.

Val - She could tell the story far better than I can. I am telling you, she has a gift and she's hilarious.

Anonymous - Yes, Mrs. Thomas does bring back a rush of memories. "People! People!"

Icey - I GOT THE PATCH - but I'm not trying to rub it in. I forgot about it actually. I'll bet you would have torn up any standards if they had tested in swimming. I don't know if they still do this test or not. Maybe somebody out there knows.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Not enough words to explain how I hated that f^&*%$g test. Physical feats were never my strong suit.

I do, however, have perfect pitch, or something close to it, but that wasn't something about which the "President" was concerned.

Mental P Mama said...

I hated that test. Hated it. Did you and BHE finalize all our plans???

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Meg - You'll have to perform for us at the blogfest in July.

MPM - Consider the dates a go and the rest we'll iron out at some point. She and I probably need to meet one more time, but we'll wait until after the 2-week, no-wine portion of her diet is behind her.

Annie said...

oh, no, I know I should have said to have a blogfest between Easter and June...I am coming over to visit my daughter in NYC...not that I would have got myself down there, but it would have been fun thinking about it!

I used to run at school against the girl who was the fastest runner in the state ...so I never had a chance of ever winning! At least we didn't have to do those physical tests...but we did have to play silly ball games..pretty funny! Tunnel ball...can't remember the other names, that is how exciting they were!

Annie

Anonymous said...

An example of what makes reading your work so pleasurable.

Other people might have gotten all bent out of shape with a farting sit-up partner.

You manage to find the humor in a potentially awkward situation and on top of that, are able to put the thoughts into words.

A great talent.

RC

pjhammer_1965 said...

Bahahaha! That's funny. What is it about a sit-up that always makes you tighten up a little bit more to keep one from slipping...lol.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie, there's nothing saying you can't come during your NYC trip regardless of blogfest or not. Springtime is very pretty here.

RC - You're too kind. It isn't humanly possible to have found anything but humor in this situation. BTW - how are you coming along in getting me a book deal? Remember, a cut of the profit plus a free ticket to the premiere of any movie that gets made.

PJH - I don't know, but that's a good reason not to do sit ups. They're almost as bad as the flexed arm hang. Almost, that is.

JLC said...

It wasn't in gym class, but the same thing happened to me in high school. Someone in my Latin class made me laugh and I cut the biggest, loudest "gas pass" that has ever happened at Mathews High School. I was red both with humiliation and in hysterics after the incident and I will never forget the look of the teacher as she stared at me. Ah, high school memories .....

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

JLC - I am laughing hard at this one. How could the teacher not have busted into hysterics? I know I would have. I am now.

nativedevil said...

Mrs. Thomas, now that brings back memories. She told us, on several occassions, that because her family was very poor growing up, the children ate moldly bread when they were sick, because the mold acted like Penicillin.
And yes, knowing Mrs. Thomas, I can believe she remained stoic as someone passed gas.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's a good thing you can't smoke in gym class. I recall friends that would light those things - like a little torch, no kidding...

MMM

pjhammer_1965 said...

with Boob in hand Native...LOL

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

ND - I never heard that story from her, very interesting. Whenever I think of her-- besides her favorite, "People!" that she liked to holler when we were acting up-- I always picture her with her head on her desk in the office that was in the girls' locker room.

MMM - I think we must have had the same friends, either that or everyone around here did it. Speaking of explosions...when are you going to write about that hamburger?

PJH - I have a friend--in fact the very one referenced in this gaseous story--who could imitate that gesture very well. Hilarious.

big hair envy said...

I seem to recall hearing people "pass gas" in gym. It was absolutely amazing how those things would reverberate across that wooden gym floor:) How could we NOT laugh??? Bwahahaha!

I didn't like ANY of those physical fitness tests. Although, the flexed arm hang wasn't the worst of them - for me, it was THE 600. It scarred me for life.

I cheated last night and had a glass of wine:( (You'll see it on my site next week. I actually took a picture of it!) We can now meet at any time.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

The mental image of this has had me cracking up for over 10 minutes now. I can only imagine how hilarious it must have been for you, there in person. In all honesty though, my eldest, Megawatt is very - um, shall we say vaporous and I'm sure this a story she can more than relate to.

And flexed arm hangs. THE.BANE.OF.MY.EXISTENCE. in school. Just thinking about them makes me cry.

Margaret Cloud said...

I can't resist saying this but you probably know what that gas tasted like, sorry, I apologize. That building looks like it is really old.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

BHE - I wasn't particularly fond of that 600 either, but I'd rather do 10 600s than one flexed arm hang. I hear you on those wooden floors....

Auds - I can totally relate to your gaseous one -- totally. There are a few wandering around here as well. And yes, this is a memory that is indelibly etched on my brain.

Mrs. Cloud, you are right about that! I wish I knew how old these buildings were (I say buildings plural because there are others close to this one that I'll put up here soon). They are absolutely gorgeous.

Happy Saturday evening, everybody.

Annie said...

I must say even tho I like yr photos of these buidngs..they do make me nervous...I am afraid they may fall over at any time! Take care and don't go too close!

Annie

Phyl said...

OMG! Mrs Thomas. That's enough to spend many hours laughing.
However, i recently took the adult version on the Pres. Physical Fitness test. I couldn't do the situps for a similar experience!

Also, if you happen to make your way to Gwynnsville, will you take a picture or two? That was my Granny's birthplace.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie - I usually don't get very close - in this instance I was sitting in my car and just used the zoom. There were, however hunters out and I was afraid I was going to get shot, but thankfully I made it out unscathed.

Phyl - I am going to have somebody show me where it is and I'll get you some pictures. May not be for a few weeks yet but I'll definitely get you some.

foolery said...

God or someone designed the human body to keep us from doing Presidential Physical Fitness tests. It's BUILT INTO THE GENES, PEOPLE! That's what farting is all about! That and ripped tendons, broken ankles, and separated shoulders. And that's just from climbing into your gym clothes.

Gourds were not born to run. I'll take that F now.

Anonymous said...

Shake, Rattle & Roll.
That's what one does with gords!!
rc