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Respect Finally

Posted 05-16-2018 at 10:04 AM by Nostroke
Updated 05-26-2018 at 03:53 PM by Nostroke

In 9th grade, due to some academic and disciplinary problems that occurred at a Catholic school, i had to switch to a Public School. Ninth grade was the last year of Jr High back then and i was the new guy thrust in with kids who had gone to school together for two years minimum, and many who had been together since kindergarten.

All the “cool kids” dressed in the style of the day whereas previously i had worn a school uniform. I didn’t have any cool clothes and no way to get them. From about day 2 I was nicknamed ‘The Farmer’ which hurt deeply. I was shunned by cool kids and dorks alike. This was a totally new and devastating experience for me. Formerly I had always been in at least the top half of kids in popularity and now, suddenly, I'm a pariah. I never went so far as to cry over it but it hung on me like a lead suit all day, every day.

There was only one kid who seemed to like me (Thank you Mike M) and one girl who tolerated me for 3-4 minutes a day. Other than that i had cooties as far as everyone was concerned.

I continued to be isolated and made fun of.

Maybe - of the way through the school year, in gym class, the coach decided to have a high jump contest. There were probably 30-35 kids in that class-70% white and 30% black. The class included many of the cool gang.

When the bar reached 5′ 6″ there were only four of us left. Many of the real athletic kids who could put their whole hand over the basketball rim were already out of the competition. They could jump real well but had no idea of a proper technique to get over that bar. I had lived across the street from a high school that left the HJ equipment out for months at a time. Practicing there, along with my viewing track meets on TV, helped me develop a good technique. Thank you Valery Brumel. These were the pre Fosbury Flop days.

So now the bar is raised to 5′8″ and it is only myself and Louie Harrington left. He wasn’t Irish. He was skinnier than i was and had an inch and a half to two inches on me in height-probably 6 foot on the button. Neither of us had yet to miss as in the High Jump you get 3 tries at each height. We both made it over on the first try, 5′9″ same thing. The bar goes to 5′10″ and Louie misses on his first attempt and makes it on his second. I clear it on my first attempt. Up to 5′11″. We both clear it first attempt and the bell rings with the Coach promising we’d continue it next class.

He also approached me, trying to stifle a big smile, and asked me to join the track team, which i declined despite his repeated encouragements in that 90 seconds or so. The smile was by reason of his total shock at my surprise abilities I'm sure. He, like everyone else, had considered me some sort of clumsy misfit.

At any rate, I am looking extremely forward to the next gym class. 6 Feet would be so much more prestigious than 5′11″ .The world indoor record had only reached 7 feet six years earlier. Having 3 tries at 6 feet, I was 100% confident I was going to make it.

When the big day finally arrives, the coach never mentions continuing the High Jump at all. He had apparently forgotten! As much as i wanted to say something, i figured that would be pretty selfish and both Louie and i stayed silent.

Not one kid congratulated me, said good job or anything similar. Technically i had won due to fewer (no) misses. Many of the kids, including the cool ones, however, began giving me a nod in the hall and might even allow themselves to be seen talking to me now and then. A couple of the kids i beat continued to shun me but there was a different look in their eyes and on their face. It was no longer disdain but jealousy! I never became a cool kid but i was no longer ostracized either and I lost the Farmer nickname, which was good enough for me.

PS-To this day, once a month or so, I dream of myself jumping high -real high- like 40 feet in the air and when i come down, I land light as a feather. These are far and away my favorite dreams.
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  1. Old Comment
    Lonestar_jim's Avatar
    Great dreams for sure. 40' is much more prestigious than 39.5 !
    Posted 05-26-2018 at 06:58 AM by Lonestar_jim Lonestar_jim is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Nostroke's Avatar
    Thank you Jim-In all these years, you are the first one to comment- I didnt even think they worked!!
    Posted 05-26-2018 at 07:28 AM by Nostroke Nostroke is offline

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