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A Rather (I Think) Amusing Story

Well. At least I think it was funny. I suppose I also could be really pissed, but...I prefer being amused. Anyway, so I just remembered this as I was lamenting today that second semester will start soon enough, and when it does- back to gym class. I should probably explain two things:
1. I am horrendous at team sports. Or any kind of athletics actually, apart from swimming and running, which I doubt count. I am extremely uncoordinated. I realize that the majority of girls insist this, but I swear I'm different. If I was halfway decent at that kind of thing, I'd brag about it, not hide it. I'm the one that causes people- even the 'I'll break a nail' girls- to groan when they find out they're on my team- I cannot hit, catch, or kick, no matter how hard I try. 2. I'm Jewish, and one of the many stereotypes attributed to us is being uncoordinated and wimpy. I don't think most people in the North really apply this much, but up until a few months ago, I lived in a tiny Southern town, and they certainly did there.
So, here's the story: Last year, I started off gym horribly, as I always do. The gym teacher was at first understanding- and then extremely annoyed, as most gym teachers get with me, when they realize that it's not just one or two sports I suck at- I really am that bad at all of them. So I got yelled often, and was generally treated like I had the intelligence of a baby dodo bird. Once, after not being able to catch a ball in a lacrosse stick-basket-thing for the life of me, I had to stand in a corner and throw a ball up, and when I can catch it, I could come back. I was there all period, and Ms. A was not pleased, and continued to harbor a grudge against me for many months.

And then came the holidays, and also a week of health class in the place of gym ,right before we got sent off for the holiday break. Every morning, we'd get a 'warm-up' question, typically about the human body, or bio or something. Or about the dangers of sex, drugs, smoking, stepping out of your car, being a Democrat, being within ten feet of a gay, lesbian, or bi, not being a WASP...(okay, so I'm exaggerating a little- but it does have a base in reality, especially the part about gay people!) The day before the break, we got the question- what holiday will you celebrate?

Now, looking back on it, I think the question was really 'So how many of you are Jews or Muslims?' dressed up in PC-speech. I mean, even atheists tend to celebrate Christmas.

Anyway, so that was the question, and like the nice Jewish girl I sort-of am, I wrote 'Hanukkah'.


Flashforward to January: Ms. A was all of a sudden extremely nice to me. All of a sudden, it was okay that I couldn't catch, that my racket never made contact with anything but air, ever, and that I still was unable to dribble. She was even friendly toward me. For the longest time, I was wondering what in the world had happened. Christmas miracle? New Year's Resolution? Alien abduction? Then, as I came slinking behind Ms. A, around May or so, and I was feeling especially bad because I had screwed up even worse then usaul- so I apologize to her for sucking so much. Her response?

"It's okay. It's not your fault, you can't help it .Athletic ability is genetic, isn't it? Just traits passed down in families...Some people aren't made for the manual, physical stuff. More like intellectuals...Your peo-family are doctors, and that sort of thing, right? That's alright. Some people just don't have the genes for it...."

It would sound better to say I was angry at first, but to be honest....I was amused from the moment she finished her second or third sentence. I mean, yeah- she's kind of racist, or ethnic-ist or whatever. But it benefited me- for the first time, in my entire life, of being one of four Jews in a conservative, very Christian, Southern town, I can say that prejudice benefitted me. And given how amazing my father is at baseball, it is kind of funny- because it's society-accepted B.S.

But maybe it's also kind of like....I could be mad, or I could use the dark sense of humor I was born with, and find it funny. I mean, considering all the real shit I've put with, that was nothing!

Ah well. Somehow I doubt being Jewish will work as a good excuse in the North, for not being able to hit a ball.... =)

Comments

I never knew that was a stereotype of Jewish people to begin with. o.O

-Amanda
I don't think it's as commonly known in more metropolitan areas, or anywhere with a reasonable Jewish population.
Jebus. I wouldn't know whether or not to be insulted or to be humoured by that! Probably I'd end up being both, like start off like, "You know, you're kind of funny" but then ultimately be like, "Hey, wait a minute; not COOL!"

It's kind of weird how that works... Like not wanting to be defined by a stereotype while at the same admitting that there are seemingly some "truths" about the stereotype in question (like, "not that Jews are genetically bad at athletics [athletic genes??? lol], but a lot of us are bad!"). I keep thinking about it. I mean, gosh, I can't believe she said that to you; it's like she didn't even try to hide it. xD
Eh, she did a little. She managed to not define my 'family' as Jewish outright. =)

It is rather odd. Because of course stereotypes are bad, but when you fit one and people assume that, it can be a little helpful.