Eighties movies were all about stereotypes. The gym teacher was always a brain dead meathead, or a butch lesbian. My own gym teacher didn’t fit the stereotype (morbidly obese, she sat in the shade while we played volleyball or kickball and only interfered by blowing a whistle when things got violent) but was equally useless.
I also grew up steeped in the Christian mind-body split that pitted brains against brawn. My loyalties were strongly with the former.
So maybe I can be forgiven for arriving so late at the conclusion that gym teachers are educators, and like most educators, could be interesting, intelligent, artistic people. The man above is a gym teacher, presenting here in the persona of DJ Tofri, host to Iceland’s largest and most storied heavy metal festival. He is also a musician, and has played in a series of underground bands.
Earlier this year I discovered that “Mr. D,” the P.E. teacher at my daughters’ elementary school, is also a playwright. I found out because I chaperoned a field trip to see a play at Seattle Children’s Theatre (which I have often touted as one of the best theater companies in our theater-strong city) and his name was on the cover of the brochure.
I don’t know if this realization would have made much of a difference in my life – I am and always have been a klutz, so my preference for books over sports was probably a given regardless of world view. But I wonder how many people I might have been friends with had I not made assumptions based on their jerseys?