Growin’ Up: Part 2–The Flexed Arm Hang is the President’s Evil

President Lyndon Johnson foresaw the end of th...

LBJ: Purveyor of Gym Class Horrors (Image via Wikipedia)

This is the second in what I hope becomes an entertaining series of adolescent recollections.  You see a lot of stuff when you’re young–some good, some bad, some happy, some sad.  Some involve gym class humiliation.

The Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge, designed to get kids up off the couch and to the highest realms of (alternately) glory or embarrassment, was a popular gymnasium fixture in the elementary school days of my youth. A minor part of President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s sweeping Great Society programming, and measuring performance in a variety of activities such as the 50-yard dash, pushups, and other displays of speed, strength, and agility, the Presidential Fitness Challenge was to the young “husky” boy an unadulterated manifestation of evil incarnate.

Most humiliating of all, at least for 8 year old me, was the “Flexed Arm Hang.” The idea was simple! Grab the chin-up bar, pull yourself up, and hang, for as long as humanly possible, with your chinny-chin-chin all the way up above the bar. Little Eddie so-and-so, who never struck me as the athletic type but did on second look have an unusually muscular upper chest, held it for 59 seconds just prior to my turn, setting the flexed arm hang “bar” high. I still set mine low, thinking if I could hoist my considerable mass up that high for a solid ten seconds I could claim if nothing else at least moral victory. I sidled up and hoped for the best. Continue reading


Game Day: Vikings

Minnesota Vikings logo

Image via Wikipedia

Living in Singapore, a land with no seeming interest in or knowledge of NFL football, presents a challenge for me, and that is how to see the big game!  Luckily, my gal found a solution—the All Sports Network, or ASN.  Still, even with an ASN subscription, coverage is spotty and in any case oddly timed.  With the most recent game, today’s critical early season Monday night tilt between my beloved Minnesota Vikings and the plucky but annoying New York Jets, the game would be televised live, but at 8:30 a.m., the precise time when I needed to head toward school and “learn something.”  Argh is right, y’all! Luckily, consulting the local cable TV guide, I saw that a replay of the game would air during evening programming.

So…I don’t particularly mind seeing the game after the fact, so long as I have NO idea, NO clue, NO miniscule inkling as to the outcome. For today, that means avoiding Facebook, Yahoo, and a host of other media outlets (notably my favorite the New York Times) where the news could be leaked.  It also means steering clear of ANYONE who might know I am from Minnesota and also a loyal Vikes fan.

Generally, this is where the Singaporean indifference to American football pays dividends.  But it occurred to me upon my stroll to school that I have a classmate who dates a guy from Minnesota, who I have seen wearing local sports regalia, who tends to peruse a laptop during class, and who generally sits right in front of me.  Clearly I would need to brief her on the do’s and do not’s of checking the box score and blabbing her big mouth all over the classroom.

As it turns out, she’s not a fan, and could readily guarantee she wouldn’t spill the beans.  But as I described to her the intensity of my position, how badly I longed to watch the game free of bias, my mind raced with alternate and highly unlikely scenarios that, even if they were to occur, would not compel me to seek the results.

With that, the Top Ten Highly Unlikely Scenarios for Today’s Vikings Game that Still Wouldn’t Make Me Want to Hear About It

10) If President Obama attends the game, decides he would like to play, laces ‘em up, and throws 50 touchdown passes, one for each state in his beloved union, I do not want to hear about it.

9) If Aliens descend from outer space and proceed to administer rectal probes on each player, which, naturally, the Vikings players would object to but the Jet players would enjoy, keep it to yourself girlie.

8 ) If the Vikings cheerleaders preempt the game by taking the field in sexy lingerie and hold a three-hour pillow fight, I’ll just wait to see it this evening.  Zip it.

7) Should the NFL announce that today is “Fans Get to Play Day” and this leads to a spirited but dysfunctional and lopsided matchup between beer-bellied tradesmen and MILF-ish soccer moms, I’m sure I’ll still enjoy the game.

6) If both teams, depressed about global warming, world poverty, or the relative diminishment of old school “smashmouth” football in today’s NFL, commit suicide in a communal act of protest, shush it. Shush it!

5) In the unlikely event giant earthworms should tunnel up from beneath the turf and ravenously gobble up players and fans alike, I’m sure there will be extended coverage throughout the week, and I can catch up on the full set of events this evening.

4) If People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) suddenly convinces the NFL that playing with the old “pigskin” is inhumane and the game should instead be played with a NERF ball, but the game is cancelled because nobody can remember where their NERF football went but they’re pretty sure it got stuck in the kid down the street’s gutter system, I consider this a compelling human and animal interest story, one about which you should just keep your fat trap shut.

3) If Vikings coach Brad Childress and Jets coach Rex Ryan break up the coin toss, grab the Ref’s microphone, announce they are gay lovers, and proceed to make sweet, sweet man love on the 50-yard line, that’s something I might not care to watch but still don’t need to know about until game time.

2) While I would be disappointed if the league declared that football in its current state is too violent and institutes starting today a two-hand touch or flag football system, I’d still watch and be interested in the outcome.  Clamp down your pie hole, cupcake.

1) If Vikings quarterback Brett Favre throws 20 touchdown passes to his newest weapon, wide receiver Randy Moss, and puts the icing on the cake by kicking three field goals and driving in 10 runs including a grand slam, I’ll watch it on my own time, thank you.

Okay, if this last one happens, I don’t care anymore.  Lemme know.