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Great memories don’t include gym class

By Dennis Minich

It was a mini-reunion for me this past week as two of my BFFs came to town. Art, now from North Carolina, and Keith, from Arkansas, visited town so we could share stories of our latest ailments, prescriptions and other maladies of getting older. In the old days the three of us spent many hours howling at the moon. It was not unusual for us to begin our nightly festivities about 10 p.m.

While I was still geared up for such frolicking, both of my compatriots were ready to sleep by 9:30 leaving me a lone wolf whimpering at the lunar surface.

Even though they wimped out on the fraternal activities, we still had plenty of time to solve many of life’s mysteries. We debated the pros and cons of buffalo wings. We discussed at length why classic country music was so much better than today’s drivel.

We relived many of our antics as youth, including the hits, but mostly misses of our dating lives. Keith acknowledged he was very lucky to have married his wife, Ronda. Art, likewise, acknowledged how lucky he was to have met his wife, Diane. I, of course chipped in, Leslie was very lucky to have found me. We also discussed at length how fortunate we were to have maintained our youthful good looks all these years.

It is hard to believe that in all of the time we hashed old times, we never once told a fib. That’s the beauty of friends.

One of our conversations centered on our days in junior high and high school. We had some really good teachers. We also had some real clunkers. Keith has always been a whizbang in construction, electronics and was a gearhead, so he was appreciative of his various shop teachers. I was more of a journalism and speech guy, so I shared how fortunate I was to have had some top-flight teachers. Art was mostly a skip class and play cards kind of guy, so he appreciated the teachers who didn’t take attendance. The one avenue of discussion we all agreed on was how worthless physical education classes were back in the day. A typical school year went lots of running, then flag football or soccer, followed by volleyball, gymnastics, then lots of running, basketball and wrestling, followed by square dancing then winding up in the spring with running, softball and some assorted other nonsense. When in doubt, there was dodgeball and running.

We all agreed that the four years of gym were a giant waste of time. Art was a wrestler, so he enjoyed that section. I liked football, basketball and softball, so that was OK. Keith really enjoyed none of it. So, we compared notes and believe it or not, not a single one of us has ever performed any gymnastics since our school days. Wrestling, as it ends up, was not really a sport-for-life kind of thing either. I am not sure flag football accomplished much more than filling time, so we were left with basketball and softball as being the only activities which actually prepared us for future pursuits.

It seems with students today things are different. I’ve seen students practicing archery, learning the fundamentals of golf and tennis. I think that’s great because those are skills which can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

I even think the classes that teach bowling are serving an important purpose. Since part of the joy of bowling is drinking, maybe teaching bowling fundamentals should be considered a college prep class. Hey, and while on the topic, maybe some classes on pool and Texas Hold ‘Em would be good life lessons.

I’m not sure all of the changes in the educational system are for the best, but I think strides have been made in PE. It is important nutrition is addressed. Learning sports for life are great. I wish I had an intro to golf, I might have loved it. Even some basic running and weights for good cardio habits is a great idea. I don’t know how climbing a rope or making an overweight kid swing on a horizonal bar was ever considered a good idea, but once upon a time it was.

For now, I have to close my book of memories until the three amigos gather again in the future. Fortunately, at our age, we will be able to tell many of the same stories because we won’t remember our previous discussions.

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