Risin’ up, back on the street- did my time, took my chances

I, beloveds, am a moron who made a horrible mistake.

I’ve been feeling a bit awkward in my classes lately. 99.9% of the other students are a) in a different track then I am and b) just like 2 seconds ago graduated from their undergrads. I am spending hours with these people sharing my major every week, but I feel old and utterly out of touch around them. And they’ve all become so close… I’m definitely on the outside of their clique. It’s like high school all over again. Then, a few weeks ago, our graduate student association announced that they would be holding the first ever graduate games. One of my classmates sent out a request for team members, and the rest is history.

I still dont know exactly why I did it. And I probably just shouldn’t have. But I thought it would be a fun way to come out of my shell a bit and get to know people. Maybe build a little camaraderie. I spent the next 2 weeks sending mass e-mails to my teammates about how fun it was going to be and how I nearly went pro with textbook toss after I funded my college education playing on the varsity team. Who am I? Unfortunately, I was not to know that our team would be led by a militant nazi and at the end of the day I would still be 30 years old.

We met at the nazi’s house. This is before I knew she was competing for gold and would not settle for less. It was pleasant enough, but I felt like I was over compensating… trying to be funny and overly sarcastic. I was, for the most part, ignored which is fine by me. We all wore “zany headbands and bandannas” as part of our uniforms (why couldnt someone have just shot me?) I felt like an utter moron and what’s worse, I had my hair down at first so with my bandanna, I looked like a creepy hippie. Like I was early for Halloween, not a cool graduate student athlete. I tried my hardest to play along & act like I thought life was awesome, but really I felt like my heart was going to smash through my chest in embarrassment. Like it was going to say “you know what? if you cant just act fucking normal then I’m out”.

I kept trying for small talk which for the most part went unnoticed. They, of course, have all been spending every hour of every day together for weeks and are therefore bff. I didnt have much to contribute to that. In between, nazi kept saying that we had to BELIEVE we were going to win. That we would shed BLOOD if we had to. That we needed GLORY. I thought she was kidding. What I havent explained yet is that the grad games were comprised of things like the human knot, potato sack race and pie eating contest. But my god, it was INTENSE.

So the first event was whiffle ball relay. I thought ok- balancing a ball on a spoon? I’ve got this in the bag!! 4 of us played and we each had to do a length of the field- and we could only transfer the balls with the spoons, and could only pick up a dropped ball with said spoon. Ok, fine. Wait. WAIT. The spoons are in our MOUTHS?!? Fuck. I immediately started sweating profusely. I am not a very coordinated person. I have not PRACTICED THIS!! And omg, I cant let my team down!! I was the third person and we were winning. By a LOT. I was so scared I was seeing double of the girl coming toward me. She went in for the transfer and… dropped it. I immediately dropped to the ground to scoop that bitch up and I just couldnt get the right angle… time was passing… the Nazi was screaming at me… I knew I was loosing it for the team. And you know what I was thinking the entire time? “My ass is in the air and my underwear is hanging out. My underwear is hanging out and Jesus Christ, I’m wearing GRANNY PANTIES!!! Oh, fuck, oh, fuck… I’m so old” Somehow near the end of that, we managed to get the ball on my spoon (I think we cheated) and I booked it to the other side. We came in 3rd after losing a giant lead. I began singing Eye of the Tiger to myself starting then, to last throughout the day.

At that point, I think my team lost faith in my athletic prowess. They had me sit out of the hula-hoop marathon and the wheelbarrow race. The text book toss event came up, and I started to sweat again. I had joked about this in my e-mails… could I just not embarrass myself? Most of the team chose me to compete, though the Nazi was screaming that we needed someone else. Normally I’d say “ok- well then who wants to do it?” and would quietly bow out. Oh, no- not this time. Like I’ve mentioned, someone else had crawled into my skin on this day and it was ON. I pondered for a brief second precisely how to throw the book. The rest of the 30 seconds I spent in front of oh… 100 graduate students I spend thinking “I am a fucking moron and I will never do this again, god, if you could please just let me not be humiliated at the end of this. I’ll go back to church. Yeah! Church! Love, Jess.” At the end of my insanely inappropriate prayer, I wound up, and let go, watching the book sail… about 8 feet. Not good. I was pretty happy at the end of the event because I beat 6 or 7 people (one guy had actually managed to throw his book behind him) but we were still beaten severely. My team looked really disappointed. Nazi kept mumbling about how there was no way we could take the gold now. I think she even picked up a German accent.

The end of the day culminated in a “grand relay”. I competed with Nazi in the 3 legged race. Folks, I was BRILLIANT. I guess you could say “we” were brilliant as it was a 3 legged race, but I’m not going to. We managed to sprint like gazelles. 3 legged ones. It was quite beautiful. And you know what? We came in second.

That didn’t help our overall standings though. Out of 11 teams, we finished somewhere below 7th. Nazi was pissed and everyone else just looked apathetic. It would have been a good time, had I already been part of the group… but unfortunately, I didnt accomplish what I was hoping to by competing. In fact, I probably just made it worse. I’m sure after I left they all went for a beer together and said “can you believe how shitty she was at the textbook toss? And my god, did you see her underwear??”

So I’ll spend the rest of the weekend nursing my bruised ego. And for the record, I actually really like the little Nazi. Luckily we’re not athletically involved most of the time. I think it’s ok that I dont hang out with these people. After all, this isnt my undergrad… and to quote every truly great reality tv show ever made “I’m not here to make friends”. Right?

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