Winding Up And Letting Fly - 11.15.99

The other day at lunch, the people I eat with and I got into a funny discussion on different games that we used to play while in school. It all started out of a conversation of whether we should get into an all-work snowball fight when it snowed, but soon it had morphed into a discussion on tag, red-rover, and dodge-ball. After a couple people had shared their memories of getting beaned in the head (or taking out other people), I rememebered a particularly vivid incident that took place while I was playing dodgeball in junior high-school. No matter how many times I tell the story, it always seems to make me laugh.

It all went down the year that I was in either 7th or 8th grade. All that I knew was that it took place in PE class (which was probably one of my favorite classes at the time). As it happened sometimes, my teacher split the teams into boys versus girls (our class was about 30 people and was split evenly down the middle between the sexes). While it may seem unbalanced on the surface level, there were other little things that my teacher (who was a 55 year-old or so man) would do to even out the games a little more. Not only did he employ different rules for the two sides, but he would often join in on the girls side and play against us boys, all the while making up his own little rules to keep things even for the entire hour of class.

On the particular day of the incident, he was playing along on the girls team just like normal. Even with a few restrictions that had been imposed, the guys team was starting to win the game fairly handily and he came out firing at us in order to try and keep the game somewhat even. After he had beaned a couple of the fellows on my team (we played with soft nerf footballs), I found myself sitting off to one side of the court with one ball in my own hands and nearly a perfect line of sight on my teacher. He didn't see me sitting out my ground and was instead intent on picking up a couple of nerf balls to toss at other members of my team.

Just as he was leaning over to grab one more football, I honed in one last time and let the football go right at him. He must have seen me throw it out of the corner of his eye because he picked up the ball off the floor much faster than normal and had stood up my ball hit him. By doing so, though, he put himself in perfect position for the ball I had thrown to hit him right in the genitals. Or, as some might say, it smashed him right in the nutsack.

Like any junior high-school boy, my first reaction was to start laughing nearly uncontrollably. When I saw the look on his face and how his entire forehead had turned red, though, my mind started turning gears even faster and I ran off in the other direction while looking out for flying nerf balls. Sure enough, he came at me as hard as he could and missed with both his first shot and second one. I somehow had dodged each ball that he had thrown, but I could see that it wasn't enough. Instead of giving up, he walked over to the closest girl on his team and took a ball away from them, then turned around and fired a third ball in my direction.

Again, I jumped out of the way and the ball bounced off the floor and into the wall behind me. He looked around for more ammunition, but by this time nearly all of the nerf balls were on our side of the court and I had already picked up another one in my hands. I couldn't help from cracking a faint smile again, and nearly as soon as I had, he told me that I was out.

Protesting, I argued that he hadn't hit me and I shouldn't have to go to jail (the term for the other side of the court where those hit by the ball go until they catch a throw from a teamate), but he didn't care and told me that because I had hit him where I did that I was automatically out. It was another one of his famous "instant" rules and I protested even more, but he came right back and called the game to a stop while telling me that I was indeed supposed to go to the jail.

Grudgingly, I threw down the ball that I'd had in hand and walked my way across the court to where the others on my team were standing. Instead of being upset, though, I had somehow become the hero of the day for them. They had all seen what happened and everyone was laughing and patting me on the back. Of course, the teacher saw all this and thought that I was bragging to them. Instead of sitting me out for the rest of the game, I had to sit out for the rest of the class while everyone else went about their business. Quite a punishment for something I didn't even mean to do.