Thursday, February 02, 2006

I have always been a skinny person.

I graduated from high school at 6'1" and 155 pounds, and I graduated from college four years later at 6'1" and 155 pounds. Tired of being ignored by the guys I was attracted to, I joined a gym soon after graduation. Then I was a skinny person who worked out obsessively five days a week. I slowly bulked up, but I have never become much more than a skinny person who filled out a shirt a little bit better than before.

But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to laugh at my horrifying skinniness. And then to laugh even harder at my pathetic attempts to hang out with hot guys pretend I was some kind of athlete by joining my high-school gymnastics team.

And nobody is better at gymnastics than a bag of bones. Especially a bag of bones with no gymnastics training.

In 1982, I became a freshman. At the time, freshmen were the big kids at the junior high school instead of the little kids at the high school in my home town. There had been some kind of join-the-gymnastics-team recruitment demonstration at a junior-high assembly that year, and my delusional little mind somehow reached the conclusion that competitive high-school gymnastics was something I should really get involved in.

And, for some reason, they let me in.

The team was small that year, but it comprised some really good gymnasts. And me. And while the other guys spent our afternoon workouts perfecting their tumbling routines and swinging majestically over the high bar and soaring over the vault without aborting in midair like big girls, I putzed around on the one piece of equipment where they planted me because we really needed another body to compete on it: the pommel horse.

After the rings, the pommel horse is the only piece of equipment that requires tremendous upper-body strength and almost no visible shoulder bones when you’re wearing a droopy gymnastics leotard tank top. And I was just as bad on them as you’d expect. Especially because I had no idea what I was doing.

I actually competed on the pommel horse in every meet we went to, though. And I always got a courtesy score, which is a nice way of telling you you suck but you get a nice 2.0 (or maybe it was a 3.0) anyway so you can head home to your parents with some shred of dignity.

But enough about me and my dubious talents. I have a picture of the team:
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I am on the bottom left, for those of you who really can’t tell. See that boy sitting to my left? Biggest. Crush. Ever. See the boy in the bottom right? He came in a close second in Jake’s Gymnastics Crushoff. (Both of them were seniors, though. Popular seniors. And I was SO not on their radar.)

Here’s another picture of us, the moment we they actually won the state championship:
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Take another look at my arms. Are those the arms of a gymnast? Are they even the arms of anything bigger than a cockroach?

Ironically, though, my presence on that state-winning team actually earned me a JV letter—before I even physically attended my high school. That’s right, bitches—I’m a letterman.

The next year—not having fully absorbed my lesson in humility and droopy leotards—I went out for gymnastics again. Unfortunately, our dreamy superstar seniors had all graduated, and our remaining superstars weren’t enough to carry us to state victory again. And, of course, I hadn’t bothered to look into any kind of ongoing gymnastics training over the summer.

Notice once again what a non-athlete I look like in our team photo. And check out my wrist wraps! They’re code for Jake means business. Just as soon as he irons the unsightly wrinkles out of his special pants.
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Fortunately, the Iowa high-school gymnastics program was killed the next year, saving me a mountain of embarrassment—and clearing up my evenings for more productive things. Like dance rehearsals.

And my post-graduation gym workouts eventually beefed me up from 151 pounds to a peak of 201 pounds and back down to a 190–195 range, where I currently stay.

And I just met with a new trainer today, who revamped my entire workout and kicked my droopy-pantsed ass. I just may look like a gymnast by summer.

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