Meandering Monday about The Youth I Remember

I was never the most athletic kid on the block.

I had some natural ability, particularly in running. I could run a good distance, and throw pretty well. I had little or no interest in athletic activity, however, except for the occasional neighborhood game of sandlot football where I couldn’t do much because I didn’t know the rules (and I was the kind of person who wouldn’t move without knowing.) I played a couple of years of little league baseball and one of basketball (maybe it was called little league, too – it wasn’t that memorable.)

Most of my awareness of my capabilities came because the public schools forced me to take GYM. So I learned how unskilled I was at climbing ropes,  gymnastics, and wrestling (I remember I was about to be pinned AGAIN and getting angry (or embarrassed) enough that I just stood up with my opponent still on my shoulders and threw him down and pinned him. I think the unconventional move shocked him as much as getting the wind knocked out of him. So many times I would do something near miraculous – a spectacular catch, or sink a basket with my back to it, or chasing someone 80 yards downfield, or juking and scoring on a 30-yard run – and the other kids would say:

“Bill! You’re not supposed to be able to do that!”

And then I’d go from getting picked last to second to last. So edifying.

I used to ride my bike everywhere.

One thing I knew I could do was run. I wasn’t much of a sprinter, but I could keep up a good pace over distances. Pretty good stamina, and strong legs. A decent jumper.

It’s funny how our bodies remember how to do things (or maybe it’s just our minds.) Supposedly, you never forget how to ride a bicycle once you know how (but remember all you want, that doesn’t mean you can still do it.) I remember being at a company picnic and we were playing sand volleyball. As the ball sailed over the net and toward me, I remembered how to time my jump, and at just the right moment I leapt – and the ball sailed a substantial distance above my outstretched arms. I didn’t feel my feet hitting the ground afterwards, so I’m not even sure whether my feet ever left the sand.

So much changes in this life, but you don’t always notice it until it’s time to act. Memories can only do so much. Just saying…

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Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

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