Now, there's a mouse with physical intelligence!

My childhood hero was Mighty Mouse.  He was everything I was not: brave, famous, and able to “save the day” with his physical prowess.  Of course he was also a male cartoon mouse with preposterously over-developed biceps, his name written on his chest and a cape.  I was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl, kindly described as healthy but more accurately described as stocky.

The thing I loved about Mighty Mouse was the same thing that I resented about me: he could do anything with that little mouse body of his. His physical prowess was legendary, scaring the scariest of sinister cats, and rescuing mouse-maidens. I, on the contrary, was more likely to be in need of rescuing. I didn’t go looking for trouble; trouble was a heat-seeking missile and I was hot.

My girth worked against me as I grew; it increased my momentum.  The Lorna-sized hole I left in the hedges of the St. Morris school parking lot when I forgot where the breaks were on my bike wouldn’t have been so large if I hadn’t been so large.  I had a lot of explaining to do when I came home, walking my bike, both of us looking like we spent hours desecrating bushes to camouflage ourselves for some imaginary war game.

I might not have actually mowed down the tender evergreens protecting the stream dividing the Bunny Hill from the regular ski slope and landed upside in the babbling brook with my little wooden sled on top of me had I not gathered so much velocity.  E=mc2.  I blame a faulty steering mechanism.  Others have their own theories.

Vanity and not eating caused me to lose weight when I became a teenager.  Still, my body was programmed for klutziness.  Skiing was not my sport.  I could only snowplow to the left, leaving very few options for trails.  My ski tips had a mind of their own and their mind was to cross at every opportunity.  The J-bar tow was too much for me—I got tangled up and had to be surgically extracted from it.  One time I managed to get to the top of some slope.  I got one taste of swishing down the hill before something ejected me from one of my skis.  I think it was a bomb.  My dreams of being a blonde snow bunny sipping hot cider with dashing ski instructors vanished.

Skating was no better.  The blades are so narrow. And what’s up with those jagged tips? Sending me out on slippery ice in those death boots was pure insanity. If I ever got farther than arm’s length from the boards, I became the obstacle over which the next few skaters would leap, pirouette, or stab with those sharp, jagged tips.

Cross-country skiing seemed harmless.  Not for me. After a morning of the damn sport, I was the only member of my party covered with snow from hat to socks. My mantra became: Never strap anything to my feet and expect it to turn out well.

Today, psychologists, who were probably klutzy kids, say that intelligence takes different forms: intellectual, spacial, social, physical, etc. When I was young, intelligence came in only one flavor. I had it, but I wasn’t able to say, as I say today, “I’m book-smart, but not blessed with physical intelligence.” No, I had to trip through my youth knowing I was a klutz.