One time in gym class, 11th grade I think, I was singled out with another guy by the gym teacher, Ms. Palmer. We were to be the team captains and told to pick our teams for basketball. I didn’t think teachers could still do that but I went along with it.
I had first pick. I looked along the line up and selected my buddy Dave. He was a long haired stoner with little coordination but he was my friend. The other captain, a jock of sorts, immediately picked the big guy who was a lineman on our football team. I perused who was left and selected a well rounded Jewish girl. When I pointed and called her name she hesitated. “Me?” she asked with a pointed finger into her large chest. I nodded and looked over to the other captain. He let out air through his teeth like he had a valve stem in his mouth. So the baseball player was picked by the opposing team. I selected the nerd and he picked the girls basketball co-captain. I picked the “karate” expert with the home made dragon tattoo who was often seen in the corner practicing round house kicks. He got the track star on a team that went to state the year before. With each athlete selected for the opposing team the jeers and snickers grew. It went on like this until there was no one left.
The gym teacher looked the teams over and shook her head. She knew it was stacked and she knew why. My point was made.
As the two teams separated insults flew from out opponents. We were going to get clobbered they explained in their Neanderthal speech patterns. We huddled up and I made a great speech. Something about showing them who we really are and we could do this. I didn’t mean it; this was my own social experiment. Everyone stood around, none believing the dribble coming from my lips. Dave looked over at the other team formulating a real play and said, “Or we could just lose.”
Everyone’s head bobbed in agreement except white Bruce Lee who said he could take them all on, whatever that meant.
“What if we challenge them to a spelling bee?” I thought it was funny. The heavy girl, the first heavy one I picked, shook her head no.
“Half of them are in my AP English and AP calculus if you’re thinking that way.” She stated.
I started in with winning one for the Gipper, but stopped myself. I looked them all over and said, “How much do you want to lose by?”
There were a few snickers and smiles as we turned to face certain death. The other team was already lined up on the court. They knew where to stand and what positions to play. We just kind of lined up with the karate kid in the back doing stretches and imaginary jump shots.
Ms. Palmer held the basketball in one hand and a whistle between her lips. I stood across from the other captain at center court. He crouched ready to jump. I had still had one hand in my pocket. Ms. Palmer looked each team over once more. She blew her whistle.