Friday, January 25, 2008

A real stretch

When I was in middle school in the early 1970s (we called it junior high), I was a fast runner. I weighed about 80 pounds, and I could run so fast I almost disappeared. Okay, so I almost disappeared even when I wasn't running.

Anyway, in eighth grade, over the course of about two weeks I blew out both my hamstrings while running the junior high version of track. Back then, there was no such thing as MRI's. If you hurt yourself, you limped around for awhile until it healed. In my case, it healed fine -- except for one annoying problem. My hamstrings seemed to shorten, which severely reduced my flexibility. Since then, I have not been able to touch my toes with my knees locked, and it is uncomfortable for me to sit on the floor for any length of time. The lotus position? Forget it. Frequent lower back pain? Yes, dammit. Does stretching help? Not as much as it should.

Am I capable of doing a split? Don't make me laugh. If you ever found me in a split position, I would also have to be dead.

However ...................... my youngest daughter, Lia (above), is sort of the anti-Jim Melvin, at least in terms of flexibility. When I lie on my back, lock my right knee, and raise my leg, I can barely achieve a perpendicular position. Lia, on the other hand, can bend her leg back so far that she could easily kiss her own toes. In fact, she could kiss her own heel. Or calf.

Lia can do a split as easily as I can cross my fingers. She also, in a very short time, has become an extremely good gymnast. In fact, at 8 years old, she is better as a gymnast than I have been at any sport in my life. She can do flips and twist and leaps and jumps that would cause an ordinary mortal to scream in terror.

But there's one problem: the judging. No matter how well she does, how magnificently she performs, the judges seem to give her scores that are lower than I believe she deserves.

Am I just being the overly proud parent?

Or maybe it's just that my hamstrings are short-sighted.


Kappa no He said...

She is so amazingly adorable! Is that her too on the top picture, doing the handstand? I've never been able to do that my entire 40 years of living. I give her a 10! Judges suck.

Jim Melvin said...

That is her, in both photos! She's only 8, so if she keeps at it, who knows how good she can be. Only, the sport is absurdly expensive, so we'd probably go broke well before the Olympics!

And thanks much for your kind words.

Kappa no He said...

Sponsors! *wink*wink*


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Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.