Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“The problem is that boys are pains and girls are not”…..BSC # 59: Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym)

Memory Reaction

Sadly, my memories of this one just prove how pathetic I was in middle school. I probably hated gym at least as much as Mallory, especially when it came to volleyball. Of course, it shouldn’t be that surprising that someone who is writing a BSC Blog as an adult isn’t really an athletic type.

However, I do remember being annoyed at Mal, because she thought it was a big deal to go to gym twice a week. I had it every day from 6th grade through 12th grade. And it was always co-ed. But, I think I probably would have hated it just as much if it was all girls.

Revisited Reaction

Mallory’s gym class starts a unit in volleyball, which they are doing with the boy’s class. This freaks Mallory out to no end because (a) she hates volleyball and totally sucks at it, and (b) she is afraid of boys, thinks they are obnoxious, and so competitive it is hard to play with them. Anyway, the other team figures out immediately that Mal sucks, so they start constantly serving the ball to her and heckling her. Her gym teacher is not really any help, because she just stands there shouting at Mal to “get moving.”

So, Mallory does what any mature baby-sitter would do. She refuses to play. She just benches herself and sits on the sidelines every day. Her teacher gives her detention every day that she does this, but that doesn’t convince her to change her mind. She even steals the notes from the school saying she got detention, so her parents don’t see them. Eventually though, her mom sees one of the notes and convinces Mal to give volleyball another chance. Mal talks to her teacher, who agrees to ask the guys to lay off Mal. Then, as soon as she gets used to playing, they switch to archery. Amazingly enough, Mal is an idiot savant at this, and manages to get a bulls eye her first day. So, then she tries out (and makes) the archery team.

Subplot: The BSC has been having some trouble with normally nice kids acting up. Mallory points out it is all boys, and comes up with a theory that gym classes are the cause of male obnoxiousness. The other sitters tell her she is full of crap, but she sticks to her guns. However, she does still like Ben, and thinks his brothers are nice. So, she amends her theory that it is only Stoneybrook gym classes that make boys annoying (in Australia, they only have gym once a week). Ben tells her that his brothers can be annoying too, and the two work out a “brother swap.” Of course, the Hobart boys act like brats at the Pikes and the triplets and Nicky are on their best behavior at the Hobarts. I am thinking this says more about parenting styles then anything else. But it does get Mal to calm down a little by the end.


  • Poor Byron Pike. He is always labeled as the “more sensitive triplet” or the “least athletic triplet.” I’m not saying it is bad to be sensitive, but it comes off that way in the books.
  • Mallory actually acknowledges that Kristy’s family is the same size as hers. Of course, she claims Kristy has it better because her family can spread out to a mansion.
  • “Claudia was wearing a pair of soft, balloony, purple pants; a neon green long-sleeved leotard top; a wide red braided belt; and a pair of soft, red, ballet shoes. Her hair was swept into a French braid with wispy tendrils hanging loose. From one ear, dangled a long earring made up of small paper mache tropical fruit. In the other ear, where she had two holes, Claudia wore two small paper mache hoops.” Since when is paper mache jewelry cool?
  • Dawn’s “California Casual” Outfit: “Black stirrup pants, a long, fleecy red-and-pink rose-print top, and black high top sneakers.”
  • Mallory wears a one-piece denim jumpsuit to school, just so she can get in and out of the locker room quickly. It sounds like something a baby would wear. Although, it doesn’t top this one in that regard.
  • Mal totally freaks out and yells at he gym teacher. The ball hits her in the face, and when the teacher blames it on Mal’s daydreaming, Mal flips out and yells, “Why don’t you try getting hit in the face with a ball!” That time, the teacher actually benches her as “punishment.” Which of course gives her the idea to do it herself.
  • Ben Hobart says how he doesn’t like playing volleyball with the girls, because he is worried about stepping on them. And Mal likes this thinking. I guess she is a fan of sexism.
  • Apparently, Logan has to read the BSC notebook too (he mentions doing so, anyway). It doesn’t really seem fair that he and Shannon have to read it when they don’t really sit that often.
  • Mal’s teacher makes her wash pinnies. (I am guessing those are the ugly things I sometimes had to wear in gym class to suggest teams). That is pretty gross.
  • The book says how Kristy likes spending time with Karen and Andrew when they are at the “big house.” That is admirable, but it would be nice if Watson felt the same way and didn’t always plan to go out those weekends. Not that I blame him.
  • Stacey points out to Mal that when measuring statistics (such as how many boys are annoying), you have to look at all the boys in a sample, and not just the ones that are annoying. The other girls all look at her like she has two heads for being such a “math genius” that understands this.
  • Mal is surprised that the Hobarts act all crazy at her house. But, she sets them loose, tells them they can pick who sleeps on the top bunks, then leaves them unsupervised with her sisters. So, of course, they go crazy. Also, her parents don’t really do anything about this – I think they are trying to teach her a lesson about the grass always being greener or something.
  • Mal asks for extra help in gym, and her teacher says no, but she does say she’ll talk to the most annoying guys about laying off her. But really, all the guys do is serve it to her to try and win. And the guys on her team yell at her when she misses. But they don’t really say anything that bad about her personally.
  • What the hell middle school has not only an archery unit it gym class, but a fucking archery team. Seriously!
  • Awe, Mal’s brothers make her a cake when she makes the team. She calls it silly, but is flattered enough to stop hating the entire gender.


Anonymous said...

OH GAWD I HATED GYM TOO!! With a friggin' PASSION!!!! And I so don't like sports nowadays, either! I bet I never read this book as a kid b/c it said " gym" on it1

Anonymous said...

We totally had archery in middle school, though only for the 8th graders. Don't think there was an actual team, though. Yet another way that all of Stoneybrook was *so much* cooler than my town and life :-P

nikki said...

Normally, I'm all for hating Mallory, but I'm totally with her on hating gym. Luckily I only had to take gym through 9th grade.

Gym teachers are the worst teachers ON EARTH! They aren't even real teachers. When I was in 9th grade, we had a teacher who was only a PT gym teacher and a PT math teacher. I had her on my schedule for math, but I insisted that my mom come in to school and change my schedule, because there was no way in HELL I was going to learn math from a dumb jock douchebag.

SJSiff said...

I normally didn't mind gym, but one time we had a baseball unit. Now, I can run just fine. I can throw and catch okay, though it's much easier with a (larger) soccer ball than a (smaller) baseball or softball. But I am horrible at hitting. I used to strike out in T-ball. And at the time my arm was sore from pole vault and I was coming up on some important track meets. I suggested to the teacher that I be a designated runner (there was even a girl with a sprained ankle!) but he thought I should try. Okay, I can try; it's only three pitches. WRONG! It was somewhere around my 31 strike that the teacher finally realized I was getting humilated and the other kids were bored. I got to be designated runner.
Had gym been like that all the time, I would have been more sympathetic to Mallory.

zanne said...

I never liked gym either. We had it every day. We didn't have archery until high school. I loved it! We didn't have an archery team though--I definitely would have tried out for that!

Anonymous said...

I definitely feel for Mallory! I went to a single-sex school from the age of 13 so it wasn't so bad, but I remember being eleven and twelve and hating my phys ed classes so much because, somehow, being a complete spazz at sports was so much more humiliating when there were boys watching as well as girls.

I did have some really awesome sports teachers at high school, but sadly the ones I remember most were the ones who would always be encouraging, but when I completely failed to be able to do something correctly would get frustrated with me.

In conclusion: I completely sympathise with Mallory and wish I'd thought of putting myself in detention like she had.

Anonymous said...

Gym once a week in Australia? Ha! When I was Mal's age we had fitness first thing every morning, phys ed twice a week and Sport all Friday afternoon. Plus, being Australia you get a lot of the world's most boring and annoying sport, cricket.

My problem with gym teachers (and also drama teachers) is that they're the kind of people who hit their peak in high school, and get a job back there to relive their glory days. So then they try to be really cool by letting the popular kids get away with anything and trying to be their best friend, and if you're not one of the popular ones they'll totally look the other way when people deliberately kick the soccer ball into your head.

Anonymous said...

I actually liked gym, but then we only had it once a week 3-8th grades and then for once semester in high school (apparently in the state of Pennsylvania "religion" is an acceptable substitute for "physical education"). But I still liked it and was good at it. But then again, I was pretty much a jock, and not a psuedo-jock like Kristy who never actually played any sport on a team.

Happy said...

I had glasses throughout all of my gym class school years (grades 7 through 10) and I SWEAR TO GOD glasses are super strong ball magnets (not that kind of ball, unfortunately... they deter that kind). I swear I was hit in the face at lease 3 times by a volley ball .... i HATED gym!!!

colleenn said...

I was never very athletic... I used to do a lot of dancing but was never very good with the team sports... but my gym classes were kind of pathetic so I didn't start really outright hating them until high school. Luckily, I only had to have gym once every seven-day rotation for freshman and sophomore years. I think you could choose it as an elective after that, but no one ever did because it took the place of a study.

Katie said...

I had sort of forgotten about the "sibling swap," haha. I do find it good irony that Ben's little bros are not the perfect angels that Mal expects them to be, and in turn, her sibs are great for the Hobarts!

I had gym twice a week in grade school, never was a big fan of it (especially when they made us run the mile, ugh. Being short and not the most athletic of people it took me forever to finish!). My PE teachers was this tall bleach blonde (with dark roots) chick who probably could have passed as "80's Athletic Barbie" but she was pretty cool about understanding that as long as you tried, it was cool. Besides, the point is to get exercise, which I certainly did.

I didn't love gym but I sort of think Mal overreacts a bit in this book. However, the "you try getting hit in the face" comment is priceless.

S said...

Gym was ok for me...except for soccer. UGH. And pinnies are vest-ish kind of things. They suck :@. And washing them? Ugh...

Dana said...

I wasn't a huge athlete but I always did well in gym. I remember in 8th and 9th grade always trying to see where I finished in running. When I was in school, you had PE through 8th grade and then had to take 2 semesters in high school.

I don't agree with people's comments about PE teachers. When I took PE II my Senior Year, my teacher was also the father of a good friend of mine. His unit had more to do with weight lifting (I'm a weakling) but he had a simple rule with one thing: If you wanted a B you had to be able to squat with the bar behind your head. You don't have to be super athletic to do well in gym. Course I was outgoing in high school and played soccer at lunch but not on a team

Jennifer F said...

I realize that this is a super old blog post but I just have to comment because this book is probably one of my top 5 favorite BSCs. I HATED P.E. class growing up. I'm pretty sure that in 6th grade we had it daily (I'm 33 now, kind of hard to remember, lol!) and I hated every second. I really identified with Mallory in this book. I read these books up until the beginning of high school (then I took a long, long break, and I'm now re-reading some), and remember really thinking about Mal during 9th grade hockey unit. Oh, and I SUCKED at Volleyball! I got made fun of a lot...I just let the ball go right by me I hated it so much! It also hurt my wrists. Anyway, this is probably the only Mal book I did not find annoying.

edkchestnut said...

OMG I hated gym. We had to take it up to 9th grade and myself and almost every girl in my grade would bench ourselves everyday unless the gym teachers decided that we had to be graded on something. No one ever wanted me on their team for anything. Also, our health classes were always incorporated with gym so you would do gym for like a month and then a month of health class and flip back and forth.

Liz said...

Ugh, another painful reminder of just how much I was like Mallory when I was growing up: shy, with glasses, bookish, obsessed with reading and writing, and the total opposite of athletic. If something like her volleyball experience had happened to me in PE, I would have been outright traumatized. PE was pretty traumatic for me as it was anyway. I'm sure I did actually read this book but I can't remember anything about it, so I probably blocked it out for being too painfully close to home.

Seriously though, I'm all for fitness now, as an adult. But PE classes were just *designed* to make life miserable for some of us. Unlike Mallory, I never did find a single sport I was any good at.