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Combination, locked

Aidan texted me from school with news her PE class required a uniform and a combination lock. She finally got around to taking PE in high school, amusingly choosing aerobics. I had to explain aerobics when she was perusing her choices because Olivia Newton John and headbands and those high-thighed unitard things were a bit before her reign. Because she put off taking gym, she never needed a locker or the lock until now.

I didn’t feel like rushing out to a store to buy a lock. Thankfully, we recalled my old combination lock from my teen years was rattling around in the garage somewhere. I still remember the combination. My husband found the lock, tried the three numbers, and it popped open. It has a good memory, too.

He marveled at my memory. I’m not surprised I remember the numbers. Seeing the combination lock with the baby blue dial brought back memories I haven’t thought about in a long time. Maybe I remember the numbers because for being in gym was torturous.

I hated changing in front of the other girls, opting to change in a toilet stall. I hated the towels, which I was sure hadn’t been white since 1947. I hated the smell, the gossip, the clothing label comparisons. I hated that my shoes had four stripes instead of three, like real Adidas. When my asthma flared up bad enough to require hospitalization, I was happy. My doctor finally wrote a note excusing me from gym. For one happy month, I reported to the front office instead of the locker room. I filed attendance sheets. I was probably the best attendance-sheet-filer in the history of the school.

Eventually, my reprieve ended. The governor didn’t stop my return to gym class with a midnight phone call. My fingers spun the dial again, true to the three numbers I never forgot, then or now.

I handed over the lock to her. She took it to school. I’m picturing it hanging through metal loops, holding her locker shut while she jumps around to raise her heart rate for 30 minutes. I didn’t really need aerobics to make my heart race.

Sometimes, being a teenaged girl is enough. Being the mom of one? Look out, Olivia.

Spiderpig! Spiderpig! Does whatever a Spiderpig does! Does he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a pig. And Aidan.

6 comments to Combination, locked

  • sonja lange

    Nail on the head. You brought it all back…the good and the bad.

  • Love this. God, how I hated gym. I was good at exactly nothing – except, now that I think of it – aerobics! How funny! Knees up! Grapevine! All to the tune of Bananarama or something.

    Your daughter, she is lovely.

  • Werona

    I remember being shocked when I moved to the USA, and everyone gets changed in the locker room at the regular gyms. It’s obviously something that women in the US just accept from their high school years. It must be harsh as a high schooler though – I’m very grateful that all locker rooms and swimming pools had individual changing stalls when I was a teenager.

    • Gretchen

      Werona, whenever faced with a locker room, like at a swimming pool, I STILL change in a stall, either toilet or shower. Some things are hard to get over, I guess.

  • Brian

    And they wonder why kids have self esteem issues. This is no different for boys, I can assure you.

  • There are a million numbers I can’t keep track of, but the combination to my mailbox in college. I won’t ever forget that one.

    My trick for PE was that I always scheduled it at the end of the day, so I didn’t have to change back into school clothes. One less changing that had to occur. Sure wearing gym shorts on the bus in the dead of winter wasn’t always convenient, but it was worth it.

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