Because I’m tall-ish, for a girl, I often get asked ‘so, did you play basketball in school’. And, instead of just saying ‘no’, I insist on telling the hapless inquirer my basketball story.
‘Picture this’, as Sophia from the Golden Girls always said.
I landed on American soil at the tender age of twelve, having spent my formative (pre-formative?) years in the land of diamonds and politics. There I was, an immigrant seventh grader wearing straight-legged hand-me-down Guess jeans, enduring the trial-by-fire that is junior high. I don’t remember much, save people making fun of my accent, asking me to say ‘vitamin’ because I pronounced it ‘vit-uh-min’ and gym class.
Our first unit in gym, was basketball. I’d spent a few years on the netball courts of South Africa so I wasn’t all that worried about basketball. It seemed similar enough. A ball. A hoop.
But apparently there were a few differences. Like in netball, you can’t move when you have the ball. There is no bouncing the ball with one hand while running (or walking) along the court: dribbling, as those Americans called it. Also, in the netball of my youth, you had to maintain a certain distance from someone with the ball. There was no getting in someone’s face whilst trying to steal the ball from them.
It was the perfect game for someone with personal space issues, like moi.
So there I was in my American gym class. And I had the basketball in my hand, and I was scanning the court for an available teammate, when, seemingly out of nowhere, Jenny Jankovic (who was just as tall as I and probably did play basketball) practically pounced on me to get that ball out of my hands. I was horrified. What kind of uncivilized, aggressive game was this?!
I never played basketball. Ever again.
Fast forward twenty-some years. Instead of America, it’s Canada. Instead of a seventh grader, it’s a seven year old. Instead of basketball, it’s…..hockey.
‘I don’t want to go to school on Thursday,’ the Gort announced sadly. On Tuesday. ‘Why,’ we inquired, as concerned parents do. ‘Because I don’t like indoor gym.’
‘Why don’t you like indoor gym,’ I persisted. ‘Because they were playing hockey and I don’t like hockey.’ ‘Why don’t you like hockey,’ I kept at it. ‘Because I don’t know how to play it….and because the other team kept saying they were scoring goals, but it didn’t look like they were scoring goals. They were cheating. And [the girl who shall not be named] is on their team and she is definitely a liar because she stole a science toy but she said she didn’t. But I know she did, because I saw it.‘
Future hall monitor? Yes.
Future hockey player? I’m guessing not.
I think I’ll sign him up for tennis.