Gumby

I’m a confusingly athletic person. From the ages of 4-12, I played good, old-fashioned YMCA soccer. As Irish twins (we were born a year and six days apart), my sister and I were always on the same team. She was an athlete, I was a cherry picker. When I was 5, I joined a gymnastics class. When I was 6, there was no more gymnastics class. My mom always said it was because they turned the class into a book store, but I think she probably just had a keen eye for awkward limbs and inherent imbalance.

During the summers, my gumby-esque limbs found a home on the swim team. They were still relatively useless, but much easier to disguise amidst the excessive splashing. I continued my attempt at swimming through junior high, where I quickly learned that a “foot cramp” gets you out of practice just about every time. Looking back, I’m a little upset that none of my coaches were at all concerned about a lack of potassium in my diet given my thrice daily foot cramps.

In sixth grade, I joined the cross country team, where I displayed gazelle-like promise. My twiggish legs and flailing arms somehow managed to harmoniously propel me a solid 3.1 miles at a time. I did quite well throughout junior high, then, unfortunately for my high school coach, came to the realization that there was honestly no rush. It’s much harder to socialize when you’re out of breath. I enjoy running, I do not enjoy people telling me how fast and how far to run. Thankfully, though my coach had some choice words about my distracting behavior during practices, my laissez faire attitude didn’t interfere with our team’s state champ status. I also played lacrosse; however, this was strictly a fashion choice. You had me at reversible kilts. I, obviously, paired mine with tube socks, face paint, and two little buns directly on top of my head.

Then came college, a time for experimentation and exploration. For me, that meant cheerleading. With zero experience and a complete disregard for common sense, I went to the first day of tryouts. I did not return for the second day of tryouts. The remainder of my college years were spent as a bit of a basketball super fan, which was a lot like cheerleading, but with beer.

Senior year, I was recruited by a friend to play center for the Filipino Club powderpuff football team. This had absolutely nothing to do with athletic ability and everything to do with my size compared to that of the average Filipino woman. It was flag, safe enough.

During practice one day, I reached out one of my gumby arms to grab a teammate’s flag and she plowed directly through said limb. There was a relatively loud pop as said limb went numb and fell dead to my side. As my arm dangled next to me like a tape measure that won’t stay straight, I walked myself to Georgetown Hospital. After a few questions and no x-rays, I was told I had a bruised rotator cuff and given a sling to wear for the next few weeks. It wasn’t until I went home a few months later that my doctor did x-rays and told me my shoulder was dislocated. Though it had been healing out of place for three months, he did his best to pop me back into place before suggesting I stick to running and other non-contact, preferably solo sports.

By age 25, I was quite confident in my ability to maintain control of my loose limbs. Until, one day, I ate pavement. Though the story should be far more interesting, I was simply trying to pass someone on the sidewalk, stepped on a slanted curb, and my legs shot into the street while the rest of my body plummeted to the ground. I caught myself with my right arm, as my left arm pinwheeled across my body, did that popping thing, and died a little. I let it dangle by my side until the feeling slowly came back, walked to the nearest coffee shop, and rinsed the gravel out of my new battle wounds…from the battle I just lost…with the sidewalk.

It wasn’t until I returned to Atlanta three months later that the doctor informed me exactly how much damage had been done. I somehow managed to re-dislocate my shoulder and dislocate two ribs, all while walking down the sidewalk. The doctor popped my pieces back into place, then informed me that, due to my inability to control my own limbs and recognize when they are no longer in the right place on my body, I now have a permanent second degree separation in my left shoulder.

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Shockingly, in the seven years I’ve lived in New York, I’ve never once been invited to join a Zog Sports or NY Social Sports or New York Skeeball League or any other competitive athletic team. That said, I just dominated flywheel and and finished in first place, ahead of 6 stepford wives, 3 millennials, 4 hungry models, my sister, and a pregnant woman.

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