Monday, December 8, 2008

Mr. Woodcock Redux

In a mind-defying twist of fate, I arrived at swim class today to find my equivalent of Mr. Woodcock, Carol, teaching. Carol is my PE nemesis, the teacher who made me walk on a clearly, very visibly broken leg, quite a long way, when I was in 5th grade. We live in a big urban area. She runs a dance academy full time. Never in a million years did I expect to have to exercise with Carol again. The young lifeguard, a teacher in training, probably wondered why I looked so uncharacteristically stressed out. Carol actually looked stressed out when I pulled up in the scooter. Her mouth opened and closed a few times like a fish. I was almost certain it was her, and she did confirm her name, several times.

She's actually still using the same music from over twenty years ago (such as the Flashdance theme song, among several others I used to hear in elementary school) and saying the same things ("don't stop moving!"). She's still doing some of the same warm-up moves. She must like them a lot. She praised one woman rather excessively for continuing to move despite having to modify some activities. Yes, I'd had to stop for a minute. Fuck off, Carol, you don't get severe pain or pre-syncope (I know when to stop). I don't know if she recognized me or not, but I certainly recognized her all these years later.

While I've seen her around our smaller town, I've successfully managed to evade her for a couple of decades for the most part.

Thank God she's just substituting because if she ever takes on one of the classes, I'm going to have to address this directly. No, I didn't Say Anything, but if she'd played "Eye of the Tiger," her favorite song to torture-inspire us by, I would have left. Maybe I should have started humming it.

The lyrics sum up her Spenserian classroom philosophy:
"It's the Eye of the Tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all
With the Eye of the Tiger...

For we kill with the skill to survive" ?!?

Let's just say I was the prey and not the tiger in her 5th grade microcosm of the world. Honestly, I didn't even understand the song at the time. There are other ways to teach PE; my children's teacher is very nice and encourages cooperation, and any competition is friendly.

She must teach another class, like aerobics, there on a different day. Last week when I was changing, I heard someone talking with another woman in the changing room about how most people don't have determination, don't attend regularly, don't push themselves enough, and criticize, criticize, criticize. My hackles were just up, more than they'd normally be, recognizing that most of the instructors adjust expectations when they're talking to students with limitations. I just didn't know why I was so irritated by this particular voice. Now I know.

Forget Flashdance. I've been having flashbacks. When she says, "Move! Move, move! Don't just stop," though I don't even know who she's talking to, I just feel mad because this is exactly what she did when I was in fifth grade. I feel like an abuse victim hearing their abuser pull out the same words again. Because Carol's the sort who, when someone stops moving, makes them move anyway, even on a broken leg!

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