Whistle Blower

Just like everyone else, I had a real asshole for a junior high P.E. teacher. Mr. E was an ill-tempered stump of a man with beady eyes, non-existent lips, and skin that looked permanently sunburned. He wore not one but two whistles around his neck and had a penchant for overusing the word “situation”.

Basketball: “This is going to be a two-on-one type situation!”

Wrestling: “Make that mistake and you’ll quickly find yourself in an on-your-back type situation!”

Square-Dancing*: “Promenade and Circle Right into a Do-Sa-Do type situation.”

For all his masculine posturing, pit-bull facial expressions, and ready recitation of World Boxing Title Holders by year and division, Mr. E came off as nothing more than a pitiful wannabe. I mean, if you had any real amount of physical prowess and athletic skill, would enlightening a bunch of pubescent punks, pansies and pot-heads to the intricate nuances of pickleball strategies be your first career choice? I’m guessing not.

There is an old expression: “Those who can do, do. Those who can’t do, teach.” I never believed that old adage, because I felt that for every person who “could do”, there was a teacher who taught them how. Never believed it, that is, until I met Mr. E. Then it all made sense. This sorry little excuse for an athlete couldn’t cut it with the talented sports figures whose accomplishments he’d so religiously memorized, so he took a job working with people closer to his own station: a bunch of twelve and thirteen year olds.

In keeping with such a messed-up sense of self-worth, it was completely lost on Mr. E that every single kid he instructed fully understood how pathetic he was. He’d strut around with a basketball perpetually pinned between his left forearm and hip, blowing both his whistles, laughably confident in his misconception that he was respected and admired. He was such an obviously puffed-up has-been that it was almost impossible to look upon his tired, blotched visage without feeling sorry for him.

I said almost. After all, this was a guy who always had us play Soak ‘Em** on rainy days and never forbade players from throwing side-arm. I think Mr. E enjoyed seeing people in pain. He probably would have had us use baseballs if the Department of Education would have let him.

Miss B

The girls’ gym teacher was high-maintenance piece of work in a coordinated felt sweat suit, hoop earrings, and tall, stiff hair. She wore more makeup than any woman I’d ever seen but that didn’t matter, I guess, since she never once broke a sweat. Miss B was, basically, a professional soccer mom. She didn’t seem to know a damned thing about sports, but she looked good and possessed her own whistle (though only one).

The sexual tension between Mr. E and Miss B was palpable, even if none of us fully understood what “sexual tension” and “palpable” meant. All we knew was that every time the boys and girls shared the gymnasium, Mr. E played with his whistles a lot and Miss B carried her clipboard at her side instead of clutched across her chest. We were too young to catch all the various subtleties of their unrealized lust, but we were old enough to know that when they were together, gym class got a hell of a lot easier.

Looking back, I have to assume that at some point Mr. E, totally enraptured by the scent of perfume and stale cigarettes, propositioned Miss B: “So, how do you feel about a one-on-one type situation?”

*Yes, we were forced to learn square-dancing in P.E. If you weren’t, then you can kiss my Allemande Left ass-cheek.
**A brutal Seattle version of Dodgeball often played with smaller, sometimes harder balls.

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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10 Responses to Whistle Blower

  1. Amanda says:

    Square dancing. HATED those days! Of course, I hated all things gym related.

  2. faerie~wings says:

    Oh, square dancing… *shivers* And I think Miss B was my fourth grade gym teacher. Or she has a clone.

  3. Lurkertype says:

    I didn't mind the square dancing (which I got in grade school) since they told you what to do right then and you didn't have to hope your spazzed out brain/limbs connection remembered what to do. It took no athletic talent.I had one, count 'em, one good PE teacher in my life. 8th grade. She was tough, but fair, she had actual athletic ability, and she didn't belittle the girls. She kinda snarked on the boys if they got really annoying and needed a smackdown. She didn't believe in the "no pain no gain suck it up tough it out" crap.(Yes, of course, she was a butch dyke. But she was damn nice. Her "roommate" was a blonde babe, very femme, also nice.)

  4. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    I always hated PE. I didn't like to sweat (still don't). Was uncoordinated enough to suck at any team sport, and was too scared of the water to be much good at the swimming stuff. (School in California…we had a swimming pool and had to swim the first grading period of school. (Don't bother trying to wear make-up and fix your hair….swimming will just mess it all up; and there wasn't enough time at the end of class to get it all 'just right' again…)
    Anyway; during 9th grade I was introduced to track and field. I was not a speedy runner by any means, but I enjoyed it. Then we were introduced to the hurdles. OMG! I loved it…sailing over those things made me feel like I was flying! Two things kept me from pursueing track and field….one was the inability to run very far w/o cramping from lack of breath and the other was we moved from CA to Mississippi where they didn't require PE in high school. I forgot about the hurdles when I gave up PE…I don't have many regrets from high school, but giving up track and field/hurdles is one of those regrets…

  5. There must be some law that PE teachers are only allowed to bonk other PE teachers. My phys ed teacher from Grade 9 ended up marrying one of the other phys ed teachers at our school. It was baffling to us all. She was incredibly nice while he was a complete arsehole. Only some unwritten law stopping PE teachers from dating normal humans could explain that hideous mismatch.Oh, and don't complain about square dancing. We got Australian Bush Dancing instead. *Shudder*

  6. bouche says:

    In my school, I thought Ms. B (who was like your Mr. E, only manlier) and Ms. C had sort of tension going on. The Misters were married and either had a swagger or said "aw come on, guys" a bit too much. One class, while serving during a volleyball game, Ms. B decided she needed to say something as I served; subsequently, it was too late for me to keep from spiking the ball right in her face.I did a sort of gasp-hyperventilation thing out of shock and then fell to floor and laughed hysterically. The rest of the class followed suit. I can still see that red face of hers shake her head while the stars she most likely saw began to fade.I was the kid that made the p.e. teachers count down to retirement. Did you have crab/scooter soccer? I rocked at that.

  7. Ruth says:

    In junior high, the first time we were introduced to the "dance" component of the curriculum, we got the choice between folk dancing and square dancing. Not really understanding what they were, we chose folk. I vaguely remember a Greek (Turkish?) wedding dance in a circle with scarves. We were much too young to understand the cultural context and importance of anything we were doing, and just thought the entire thing dumb. So the next year, we chose square dancing. Not as bad: like Lurkertype says, they at least told you exactly what to do. But with a bunch of pre-pubescent geeky adolescents, ANYTHING involving dancing with the opposite sex was a recipe for disaster.

  8. CrowSeer says:

    Bad enough having PE teachers for PE, but during the final two years of school our Art teacher had compassionate leave, so we got the PE teacher for Art too!!! I don't know how he conned his way into that gig, but in the two years he lumbered around the desks with his broken nose, red face and rugby shirt, the only advice I remember him giving me was that pictures look better when they're colour photocopied! Ah, centuries of innovation and inspiration, distilled down into that handy adage.
    At our school most kids didn't have to do any kind of dancing until a few months before our faux-Prom, but being a Drama kid I had to do quite a bit of "expressionist" dancing… so imagine a really fat child in a Skid Row T-shirt trying to dance like a tree! Eeesh…

  9. Emmi says:

    Oh geez, should I keep it to myself that I square-danced voluntarily in my back-woods New Hampshire childhood? Maybe I enjoyed it so much because it was a community activity with no jerk gym teacher to ruin it for me.
    My mom's a HS French teacher so I hate that saying, but isn't it funny, whenever I had a terrible, incompetent teacher in HS or college, that was the saying that always popped into my mind.

  10. jaypo says:

    I feel sorry for that poor guy, even though all he could do was make
    the kids miserable. Imagine how miserable he probably felt every
    afternoon when he went home. 😦

    It's like saying editors are writers who can't write. Being close
    to the thing you admire and wish you could do well is next best thing
    to doing it, I guess.

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