RedWritingHood: She’s an Athlete

October 27, 2011

Creative, Memes, Red Writing Hood

She stood in front of the mirror in the locker room.

“My mother says they’re water blemishes, not real pimples,” She said to the gaggle of girls gathered around her.

Water blemishes?  I looked doubtfully at her reflection.  They looked like normal pimples to me.

I hadn’t changed yet.  I didn’t like changing clothes.  Partially that was because I was self-conscious about my thighs which, to me, seemed like hams attached to my too-short legs.  It was also because I was getting breasts.  I was both excited and embarrassed by them.  Getting breasts was like getting mono.  It was titillating, so long as it wasn’t you who got them.  She didn’t have breasts; her chest was concave and somehow didn’t look bad on her tall slim body.

When I was changing, I really didn’t like my breasts, nor my ugly A-cup no-frills bra bought at the discount department store.

But delaying really never stopped anything.  I pulled out my sweats.  They were gray flannel – a matching set.  I liked the pants because they were roomy, with a finished hem instead of elastic at the ankles, which somehow made them more flattering (at least, I thought so).  The top was also a bit more tailored than the usual sweatshirt,with long sleeves, but it was still roomy enough for me (and my breasts) to feel inconspicuous.

Outside it was a bright late-spring day in Northern California.  It was early afternoon, but already warm enough for me to smell the earthy dust from the nearby football field, on which the grass was withering from drought-inspired water rationing.  The endless asphalt track ringed the field, and it was where PE would start today.

Today we’d be tested for appropriate physical fitness.  We’d be subjected to push-ups, sit-ups, running a mile.  It was mile time.

She, in her short shorts with her gazelle legs and trim torso, eagerly lined up on the track to start her mile, was perky young athleticism personified.

I, with my as-yet-undiagnosed asthma and inappropriate-for-the-weather attire, soon to be passing out from heat exhaustion to the delighted schadenfreude of the gathered sweaty tween masses, was not.

But at least I had breasts.


This semi-true tale was inspired by this week’s prompt from:  Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

I apologize that, in hindsight, it appears to be much more about breasts than athleticism, but it’s what I’ve got.  Hope you enjoy.


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

29 Comments on “RedWritingHood: She’s an Athlete”

  1. Jessica D Torres Says:

    The locker room was never a fun place in high school from what I can remember.


  2. mish Says:

    Love your gutsy punch at the end!


  3. Valerie Says:

    This brought back a lot of memories from middle school phys.ed. class and locker room drama. Water blemishes! That a good one. We wore horrible PE suits that were unflattering to all but the thinnest girls. Stretch knit, one piece, with a zipper up the front. I remember “those” girls would unzip the zipper enough to reveal cleavage (if they had any…)

    Great writing!


  4. Nancy C Says:

    I love the comparison, and the sizing up, such a real aspect of locker rooms and high school.

    I like the voice here…thoughtful, matter-of-fact, not especially prone to self pity. Seeking the best.

    I wrote about the mile in PE too! Funny.


  5. Lance Says:

    HA! I’ve heard my teenager talk like this. I liked the look in to what make you/narrator tick. Good piece. I enjoyed it.


  6. Barbara @ de rebus, via WRite on Edge Says:

    hahah! Love it… Love the the last line: totally heart!

    In terms of concrit, I am really drawn to the voice of your younger narrator: you really nail that adolescent angst on the head. So when I read “I was at the age where getting breasts was like getting mono…” – that pulls me out of your young narrator’s head. I think a simple “Getting breasts was like getting mono…” would work just as well and keep me with your younger narrator.

    This will also make the reveal at the end of what-is-about-occur all the more unexpectedly delightful!!

    But those are just two cents, honestly, I through this was a wonderfully creative piece of memoir!!


  7. AmyBeth Inverness Says:

    Getting breasts is titillating? Great play on words lol!


  8. lisa Says:

    LMAO! I love this story, even if it is a little more about breasts than athleticism. The voice of the narrator was spot on. I could feel what she was feeling. Thanks for sharing!



  9. Carrie Says:

    I remember those feelings in jr high school. I developed late but I always felt awkward and unsure with my body. The only place I felt at home was on the ice rink. I was a bit of an athlete I guess.


    • Venus Says:

      You say that (“I was a bit of an athlete I guess”) like you’re worried you’ll be judged. Or perhaps I’m just reading something into your comment that isn’t there. But if I’m right, don’t worry. Unlike the She in the story, I admired most of the girls I know who were athletic. I especially loved watching ice-skaters!


  10. Nicole Rivera Says:

    I think you really got it. For how many girls at that age does this represent EXACTLY what athleticism looks like, feels like and plays out like. There are the perky athletes still young enough to be carefree and there are those in between, like your narrator who can’t even THINK about the sport at hand because of the body betrayal!
    I agree with Barbara about that one sentence, although she articulated it so much better than I would have. That sentence did make me stop for a moment and ask, “Who’s perspective is this from again?” when everything else was crystal clear. That one slight change Barbara suggested would clear it all up!
    And as for your apology at the end – NOT NECESSARY! I think you DID show a perspective of athleticism in SUCH a real voice. However, even if you didn’t – this is what you were inspired to write based on this prompt – isn’t that the point? 🙂
    Well done!!


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks Nicole! I was feeling especially bad about not really following the prompt when I read others’ posts… people really did a great job, including using the pictures more for inspiration. But, you’ve made me feel much better, thanks!!


  11. susie Says:

    I love that last line! So honest and funny. Good job.


  12. jesterqueen1 Says:

    I always refused to change. I had a running feud with the gym teacher, and I pretty much wouldn’t exercise either. The other kids mocked me badly enough as it was, since I was a latter day hippie (or whatever you called those in the 80’s) who refused to wear a bra.

    8th grade, standing at my locker. Nicole Gardner comes up behind me, “God, Jessie, how big are your boobs, anyway?”

    Me, stupid enough to answer, “B cup.”

    “Yeah, right, and my grandma’s a 36 C”.

    If you don’t believe me, why ask? Do you want them? Because I already hate them. You can H-A-V-E them.

    I did not actually say those things, though, because I knew she’d just hurt me more. Not that I wasn’t outspoken. Just that I knew sometimes when speaking was pointless.

    That was five cup sizes ago, and now I realize she was picking on me partially because she was so self conscious about being outrageously tall herself. (It never occurred to me to mock her back for something SHE couldn’t control, in those days. Though I argued with her vociferousl over nearly anything.) Anyway, now that they’re bigger, I wish my boobs were detachable, so that I could someday go to a high school reunion and throw them at her, if she came, then catch them when they zoomed back to me boomerang style. And as I was clipping them back into their docking station and re-affixing my bra, I would say casually, “You should have believed me back when they were just B’s.”


  13. TheMHalf Says:

    I do love this. And NEVER apologize for your writing. EVER! 🙂


  14. Shauna Says:

    This was spectacular! (And seriously, clearly these damn fitness tests were traumatizing on a scope to rival any major public health issue. Jeez.) To echo the comments of others, the mono line is a true gem, and I agree w/ Barbara’s point about cutting the “she was at the age…”

    Mostly, though, I just really, really believe your character and find her both relatable and compelling. She is def “Are you There God…?” material. Thanks for sharing!


  15. Tina Says:

    To be fair, breasts DO affect your center of gravity, and can affect your balance. At least that was always my excuse.

    Interesting, unusual take on the prompt! You followed your muse and this is where she took you–off the beaten track. Great job.


    • Venus Says:

      Boy is that ever true…. In my pregnancy when I all-of-a-sudden had larger breasts (even before I started showing in the tummy) my centervof gravity totally changed. Bless the ladies with large nests -I don’t know how they do it!


  16. idiosyncraticeye Says:

    This is a brilliant response to the prompt, as teenagers athleticism (or not) was all about body shape, the right clothes, being cool and eugh, the smell of those changing rooms. Mind you, overheating in a tracksuit has to be better than freezing in gym knickers and PE skirts! 🙂


    • Venus Says:

      Wait-you had special underwear for gym class? Like cheerleaders’ spanky pants under your skirt? I would have died… thanks for the compliment!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: