Items of little import

Good Lord. I haven’t been featured on Fox News since a naked man showed up on my doorstep when I was twelve. Now all that’s changed.

In other self-centered news, if you’ve ever seen me try to play any sport — not just the hard ones like softball and soccer, but also volleyball, frisbee and miniature golf — you’ll understand why five of my friends have emailed this to me.

I have no depth perception. I can’t even light a cigarette without fumbling. When GMB and I go around the building for an afternoon smoke at work, I use up half a book of matches just trying to keep a match lit until I manage to stick the end of the cigarette in the general vicinity of the flame.

The first time I played kickball, in fifth grade, I ran up to kick the ball as it rolled toward me. Instead of kicking, I stepped on it. I pitched forward and slammed into the ground. My glasses jammed against my nose. The catcher for the other team picked up the ball, which had dribbled back toward the pitcher, and tagged me out.

That was my second week at a new school, still a fundamentalist Christian institution, but less strict than the one I’d attended since kindergarten. As before, I had to wear skirts and memorize Bible verses and pledge allegiance to the Christian flag. But I was no longer required to stand next to my desk before answering when my teacher called on me.

It’s hard to abandon behaviors you’re taught at the age of five. I couldn’t get the hang of asking questions without standing. Whenever Mrs. W. called on me, I stood and the room fell silent.

“You don’t need to stand, Maud,” Mrs. W. said.

The class tittered.

“Yes, Ma’am,” I said.

“You don’t need to call me ‘ma’am,’ either,” she said.

“Yes, Ma’am, I’m sorry.”

The class guffawed. What little I know about stand-up comedy, I learned then.

It only took three days to break these habits, but it was too late. I was already established as the class freak and would remain unchallenged until a boy who’d lost his eye in a fishing accident returned to school several months later wearing an eyepatch.


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