Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The time I punched myself out

I've made oblique reference to this online a few times, and even told the story to people I know offline, but this is going to be the first time I've written it up. Technically, I didn't punch myself out, but it was unconsciousness as a direct result of body parts meeting each other violently, and so...

When this happened, I was about 13 or 14. At the time, I was attending a private school, and the ethos of such establishments is very big on grin-and-bear-it and don't-make-waves. That ethos was how such a stupendously idiotic gym lesson as Valley of Death existed.

Americans have a school "sport" called dodgeball, which is exactly what it sounds like: two teams, lined up on opposite sides of the gym, pelting volleyballs at each other with full intent to hit. Valley of Death was a rules hack of dodgeball; it kept the two teams and the hurling of volleyballs, but instead of having a different team on each side of the gymnasium, one team would take both sides while the other team lined up to run one-at-a-time down the middle. Along the middle was an assault course constructed from crash mats. Which is to say, a massive tripping hazard, along which one was expected to run at full tilt, while being pelted from both sides with volleyballs. I cannot now remember if there was a scoring system beyond being penalised for each tooth lost. This entire setup was observed by the teachers from the gallery above the gym, which was actually the table-tennis room (and yes, many basketball gym lessons were much disrupted by the unexpected arrival of ping-pong balls...)

Naturally, such a "sport" demands a copious supply of volleyballs, and thus a fair amount of cleanup after the fact. Those who'd done worst in the running of the gauntlet were naturally further punished by being forced to tackle the cleanup; and I, being a fat kid with bad eyesight (and glasses were naturally verboten while in the gym) never did well.

Which is how come I stepped on a volleyball, my foot rapidly departed from under me right when I needed its support most, and I fell backwards. The first impact was that of my right elbow onto the gym floor. The second impact was that of my jaw onto my shoulder, and the next thing I remember is being woken up. The impact of my jaw on my shoulder had knocked me clean out.

I don't remember ever having to play Valley of Death again...

1 comment:

  1. FWIW my school didn't use volleyballs, we used a kind of foam ball inside a plastic cover. They don't fly as fast and it was practically impossible to get bruised by one. We wore our glasses in gym though, and I did lose one pair to a dodgeball.


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