The Boy with the Golden Arm

You probably all had at least one in your elementary school.  A feller that was blessed with the most amazing and almost super human athletic abilities. There were a whole gaggel of these guys in my elementary school, but one stood out above all of the rest.  We’ll just call him “Bif” – and I am sure that someone out there will know who I am talking about.  Later in life, I would run into Bif at a high school reunion. Let me just say right here, that he is a swell guy and a truly wonderful human being.  Sadly, he was no longer the glowing spectacle of supernatural athleticism that I had remembered.  We’ll just leave it at that, and say no more on the subject.   I will now recount a particular incident involving Bif that occurred at the local YMCA in my home town.

Back in the day, the YMCA was a trusted repository that the parents utilized in order to get rid of the kids for the day.  We would get dropped off at the front door like stray dogs, and then our parents would scurry away like they were leaving a crime scene.  Our YMCA had a massive wooden gym and an ancient pool that was filled with a solution of 90% Clorox and 10% water.  The purpose of the YMCA, as far as I could tell, was to harden us for our journey through the battlefield of life, as it involved various bashings, bonkings, and dunkings.  I do not remember my parents checking the credentials of anyone at the Y, nor do I remember them following up to ask why we had bruises, blisters, or blue lips when we got picked up.

On this particular day, we were to become educated in the manly art of dodge ball.  For those that are unfamiliar with dodge ball, I shall briefly describe it.  A bunch of rubber balls of various sizes are placed on the half court line in the gym.  Each team lines up on opposite sides of the gym.  The instructor blows a whistle, and everyone races to the center to grab some balls.  Each team then proceeds to try and inflict as much physical pain as possible by chucking the balls at the other team and hitting them in a vulnerable spot. Extra style points are awarded if you can nail someone in the balls or give them a nose bleed by nailing them in the face.  If an opponent catches your ball, you are out.  If an opponent is hit by a ball he is out.

One of the problems with throwing a bunch of boys together to play dodge ball, is that some boys have their testicles drop at the age of nine and have a full man beard by the age of ten.  Such was the case with Bif and a couple of his close associates. Of course, Bif got selected as one of the captains by the guy running the show, and would get the first pick as he assembled the Seal Team 6 of dodge ball.  The other captain was more along the lines of the teacher’s pet, as he was the quintessential YMCA instructor kiss ass.

I am sure you are visualizing the resulting team make up.  Bif’s elite team of gorillas and Bobby Brown-nose’s team of target dummies.  I, of course was on the target dummy team.  The specific event that scarred me for life was that I was the last surviving member of our team, as Bif’s team had picked off every member of our team in rapid succession. Racing back and forth like a little bunny rabbit, I managed to give them a thorough schoolin’ in the five D’s of dodge ball – Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge. Eventually they developed a strategy for picking me off, called the high-low approach.  One guy threw high while the other threw low.  When I tried to block the high, I got hit by the low – right in my little buddies.  Feebly moving to protect the low, I got nailed right between the eyes.

That was pretty much the last thing that I remember, so I cannot say if I was air lifted to the Mayo clinic or left to die in a puddle of blood.  I also don’t know if there was any remorse on the part of Bif and his team.  Having read “The Lord of the Flies”, I have some insight into little kid behavior in such situations.  So I suspect that there was a celebration of victory on the part of Bif’s team and not a sympathetic outpouring of empathy for a fallen soldier.

In recent years, I have read that dodge ball has been banned in many schools.  I suspect that it is the result of the lawyers getting involved.  Little Johnny got a nose bleed, so let’s sue the bastards for the scarred psyche as well as the pain and suffering of little Johnny. Then some dumb-ass legislator says – “Let us make a law banning dodge ball, so that we can eradicate this menace from our society!”.  Sheesh – sometimes an accident is just an accident.  If it weren’t, it would be called an “on purpose”.

All content copyright of Christopher Hammond