My wife and I were reminiscing about our grade school days. Being stuck inside during the pandemic doesn't lend itself to making new memories, so we draw on the old ones.

Oddly, most of my childhood memories are from when I was injured or could have been injured. I don't remember them because they were painful or traumatic. I remember them because I was proud of them.

Freud could have a field day with my apparent death wish, I'm sure. But feats of danger were feats of triumph. Don't we all strive to be able to do things that others can't?

I wasn't the biggest kid or the strongest or the smartest or the best looking. But I was fearless. Most of the time.

I was part monkey and could climb anything. You don't have to be strong; you just need to be strong enough. I could lift a lot more than I weighed because I didn't weigh anything.

Probably my most dangerous trick at school was climbing the rope in the gym. I wanted to one-up everyone else, so when I got to the top of the rope, I grabbed hold of the steel beam it was attached to and started to climb over the beam.

Miss Stevens, the P.E. teacher, caught me. I don't think I've ever seen that level of anger out of anyone since then. Maybe not anger. Anguish, perhaps. I think she was seeing a lawsuit on one hand and her career ending on the other. 

When I climbed down, I told her, "I could've made it."

She said she thought I probably could have but explained how dangerous it was. Plus, she didn't know whether I intended to crawl along the beam where there was no mat underneath. 

I didn't get in trouble. I think she was so relieved that I didn't fall that she didn't send me to the principal's office. Plus, she would've had to explain how something like that could happen on her watch.

In high school, a few of us got the rope down and were climbing it without a mat when the coach stopped us. Thinking that none of us could do it, he offered us a deal: If one of us could climb to the top and back down without wrapping our legs around the rope, he would let us climb on it.

Of course, I did it. He said it was a fluke and that I couldn't do it twice in a row. So, I did it again. He still made us put the rope up. So much for that deal.

If he had looked at the stats posted on the wall behind us, he would have seen that I was bench pressing 60 pounds more than I weighed. I was still small, but I was tough.

My rope climbing days are over, though. I'm not saying I couldn't do it. I just don't want to. I've been to the top of the rope and there's nothing up there that interests me today. 

© Copyright 2020 by David Porter who can be reached at porter@ramblinman.us. Hide a box of cigars up there and I'll consider it.