The Sit and Reach

There is nothing a fat kid dreads more than Presidential Fitness Week. We spend so much effort on ensuring that the extent of our physical inadequacy is never uncovered that, when all that truth comes out, every fat kid in the country turns into a sweaty version of Bill Macy at the end of Fargo.

Steve Buscemi was hot in that movie

"Don't make me run a mi-hi-hiiiiile!"

Honest. Next time a fat kid’s in your house, offer him food and watch his eyes. He’ll sneak looks at everyone else’s plate to make sure he’s no higher than second in total food intake, no matter how hungry he is. This is because we try to make people think that the reason for our fatness is whatever reflects least pathetically on us: it’s not that I eat too much, it’s that I have a slow metabolism; not that I fear exercise, but that I’m too busy for it.

appropriate facial reaction

My gym has weird hours and also is a Wendy's.

Dodging the truth is harder in gym class, but we have ways. Here are some tips from a lifelong pro:

  • change in a bathroom stall,
  • team with other weaklings, not athletes—you can blame your team’s horribleness on them, and most importantly,
  • find at least two things you’re good at and overcompensate.

Expend no effort at something you’re bad at (almost everything). Then, when you find out you’re okay at badminton or have a good volleyball serve, be sure to murder the shit out of it in gym. Don’t worry about how much you’re sweating, even if you smell like a South African whorehouse. The extra work you put in might convince people that you’re not terrible, but just too cool to care about running or dodgeball. (It won’t, but you’ll think that and maybe not cut yourself tonight.)

if you're offended by me saying my sweat can smell worse than AIDS, you haven't seen me show up to class late

Cheer up you fucking disaster.

Unfortunately, there is no escaping Presidential Fitness Week. You will fail at several basic physical tests in front of your peers. Tough titty. With any luck, though, you won’t self-destruct entirely, because there are two tests you have a shot at.

Pullups are right the fuck out. No fat kid has ever done a pullup. Play it cool; don’t try. Same thing with the mile run. Walk. If someone yells at you, jog half-heartedly until they stop staring.

so why did the XFL fail?

Were you even listening to me?

The biggest failure potential comes from the sprint and the pushups. You have to sprint, but luckily everyone hates your body as much as you do and won’t want to look at your gross boobs hitting you in the face. Pushups suck because you’ll probably defy the gym teacher’s expectations and do one, so they’ll be on your ass “encouraging” you to “succeed,” which means all eyes will be on your body as it crumbles like that bag of Doritos you sat on once.

who am I kidding "once"

At least crushed Doritos have a use.

That leaves crunches and the sit and reach. Crunches are a breeze! If your suck-it-in muscles are as developed as mine were, you’ll smoke all the skinny kids. Sure, you’ll leave a sweat outline on the mat that’ll convince everyone you’re a giant human-shaped slug, but whatever!

Sit and reach was my signature event. Maybe it’s my aforementioned freak knees, maybe it’s the fact that I have an NBA-length torso on jockey-length limbs, maybe it’s my hours of practice at grabbing cookies and remotes without getting up. Whatever the reason, I sat and reached better than almost anyone. Since this test involves no physical exertion, but is as public as all the others, I recommend that all fat kids get good at it if they want to feel almost like real people.

I think he misunderstood the phrase "iron cross"

Suck it! Not literally, though I'm sure you can manage by yourself.

My final tip, fat kids, is that if your school has some kind of cool-sounding program where you can opt-out of regular humiliating gym to help special needs kids, don’t you fucking dare do it.

I did. Please learn from my example.

not pictured: the last eight inches of the pole ;)

Don't do this either.

My high school had one of the biggest Special Ed programs in the country. People brought their kids from several states away just to get the specialized treatment that the school was increasingly incapable of providing, because the exponential growth of disabled kids was at near-Chernobyl levels. To meet the demand, they outsourced gym to one overworked lesbian and a ragtag band of student volunteers.

spread Kid Vid's eyes apart a few inches too

This but whiter.

I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know that I would spend the majority of my last two years of gym with Nate. Debilitative cerebral palsy Nate. Near-quadriplegic, family of champion wrestlers, trapped-intelligence Nate.

Nate hated me. HATED me. I know a thing or two about burning with resentment but holy shit guys, I’ve never seen anyone hate anyone like Nate hated me, and I’ve seen my friends become successful quickly. And I totally deserved it.

"Watsky's shooting ANOTHER video?! Goddammit I'm running out of spite-tattoo space!"

If I were black and raped this guy's sister, he and Nate would be even.

You see, Nate knew my motivations from day one. Most of the people in the class were at least passably healthy and there to help. Not this guy. I joined the program out of cynicism, laziness, and the knowledge that the girls with the highest pity ceilings would be there.

(Side note and important rule: every hot girl who volunteers with special needs kids has a disabled brother, and the hotter she is, the more disabled he is. Really hot girls whose brothers are just a little Tourettesy have no reason to be there. Yeah, it’s getting real as shit in here.)

you can hate but this is LIVED EXPERIENCE, PEOPLE

I don't make the rules.

To make things worse, I had a functioning body that I voluntarily didn’t use. While I bitch about running a mile, he would’ve killed me in a heartbeat if it meant he could walk for a day. To make things even worse, my job with Nate was to provide resistance for his exercises.

For half an hour a day, he had to try to punch me and I had to effortlessly hold his fist in place.

man I really come off bad in this one, huh?

Just really, really close.

What was most impressive about Nate’s hatred is that he expressed it all without the use of words. Yep! He couldn’t talk. He could, however, bore deep into my soul with his hate-eyes, and you had best believe that someone without the use of his voice or limbs gets really good at non-verbal expression.

I still remember the exact moment of the worst expression I ever got from him or anyone. Presidential Fitness Week, junior year. The special needs kids and volunteers took the tests together when possible, so for the first four days, Nate watched with a mixture of spite and amusement as I huffed my way to Does Not Meet scores like an obese penguin.

"a merciless god destroyed my motor functions but even I run faster than you."

This but whiter.

Friday. Flexibility Day. I had to administer the test designed for Nate, which he passed, painfully and barely—his range of motion had grown less than his therapist had hoped. Right afterwards?

The sit and reach. I killed it. Best score in the class, easy. Despite the pitifulness of my body, my greatest strength was his greatest weakness.

There are no words for the look he gave me right afterwards, but below is the closest I’ve got. That, fat kids, is why you shouldn’t be like me. Or, if you’re going to join a program like that anyway, at least get laid. I won’t high-five you, because you’re despicable, but I will understand. Go outside.

and then we were stuck with each other for another year.



2 thoughts on “The Sit and Reach

  1. Rex says:

    The story of you and Nate sounds exceedingly interesting and leaves me wanting more in a weird extreme Odd Couples kind of way. (By the way, I’m not old enough to remember the actual show just all the buddy cop and “zany” movies modeled after it.)

    Oh and the photos are a really nice touch.

  2. Crys says:

    What the hell is that under the crushed doritoes?

    Actually you know what, perhaps I don’t want to know.

    This is hilarious because I can relate to the fitness tests from my middle school so fucking much! My specialty was definitely the crunches, piece of cake.

    Another tip you missed: don’t know if in your schools you ever took class trips, any of which involved long uphill walks if not outright hiking? Whatever you do, NEVER be the last one trailing along behind, even if you throw up from the effort keeping yourself second to last (privately in the bushes where no one will see you of course, or youve ruined it)

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