Whenever I can’t lift something heavy or move as quickly as I used to, I blame my middle-aged body, and that’s probably accurate. But when I trip on the stairs, knock over my water glass as I’m reaching for the salt shaker or take ten swings to sink a putt on a miniature golf course, I can’t honestly blame middle age. The truth of the matter is, I’ve always been a bit of an un-athletic klutz.
While I was never the last kid picked when we were choosing teams at recess, I was also never one of the first kids selected. I was usually added to a team when about half the kids had already been chosen, and that was mostly when I happened to be friends with the child doing the choosing. The only time I excelled in gym class was when we were tumbling, and asked to do something the gym teacher called “knee walking,” which is exactly what it sounds like. We knelt down, reached behind us to grab our feet and walked across the mat on our knees, putting all of our body weight directly on our kneecaps. I stood out from the rest of the class because I was able, and willing, to knee walk right off the mat and across the entire wooden floor of the gym and back. Obviously, I wasn’t the brightest kid in class, but I was definitely the one with the toughest knees.
In high school, I played volleyball my senior year only because it was a brand new sport at our school that very few other girls wanted to play, so they were desperate enough to ask me. I steered well clear of track and basketball, and the thought of trying out for the pom-pom or cheerleading squads never even entered my mind. I was just proud of myself for taking gym class all four years and never once flunking out. In my twenties, I did have a short stint on a church-sponsored co-ed softball team, where I spent the entire season in right field, literally praying that no one hit the ball to me. Although I did catch a fly ball, once.
But now that I’m middle aged, I’ve realized that I don’t have to admit to being a klutz anymore. Never mind that I have never been athletic or coordinated: I’m middle aged, and THAT’S the reason for any and all of my physical deficiencies. It’s taken me over half my life, but I have finally come up with a believable excuse! I just have to make sure I avoid everyone who knew me before I turned fifty…..