I apologize to Mr. Flynn. It's been a long time coming.
I was a ringleader of sorts, who made Mr. Flynn's life more difficult than it needed to be. But I just wanted to win so badly.
Mr. Flynn was my gym teacher in grade school---we called it "elementary school" then, and the folks before us called it "grammar school"---and again, I'm sorry, sir.
I was the Billy Martin and Earl Weaver of my day, traits not endearing to an 11-year-old boy. And Mr. Flynn was the unflappable but exasperated umpire.
Never was my competitive spirit higher than as an adolescent. Baseball, touch football, Monopoly, Uncle Wiggly, you name it---I wanted to win. Very badly.
My own mother ejected me from a game of table hockey, though she likely doesn't remember it, nor would choose to believe that about her only kid.
But it's true. She and I were playing---I'm around nine or ten years old---and she scores a goal on me and I lifted the game off its hind legs and let it drop with a clank. Actually, she ejected herself---leaving me alone to stew about my actions.
"This is for the birds," I remember her saying.
I just hated to lose. I guess I was also like Ty Cobb in that regard. And if you thought a mini Earl Weaver was ghastly...
So in gym class, Mr. Flynn would preside over all sorts of games---both indoor and outdoor.
Volleyball. Kickball. Floor hockey. And so on.
Me, on the left, and Mr. Flynn, or may as well be
The choosing of the teams was very scientific.
We'd line up around the perimeter of the gym and Mr. Flynn would say, "OK...ones and twos!!"
The first person would say "ONE!", the second would say "TWO!!"
Very scientific, like I said.
So it was the ones versus the twos. Sometimes Mr. Flynn would get creative and we'd count to four. Then, he'd announce the teams as we all waited with baited breath.
And the threes and twos would race onto the gym floor to partake in the game du jour.
Some of the more sly folks---no names mentioned---would try to be twos AND ones, or some combination that allowed them to play all the time.
Regardless of the team I was on, I was the leader---in whining.
It got to be an inside joke.
A "controversial" play would occur---and for fifth and sixth graders you can imagine what that might have been---and there I'd be, in Mr. Flynn's face.
No joke---I'd race from wherever I was and plead my case as the teacher gave me a bemused look and a smirk.
The other kids would groan and roll their eyes. OK, I didn't see their eyes rolling but I sure as s**t heard the groans.
Sometimes I'd hear, "Eno!", my name drawn out in exasperated fashion by one of the other students---on occasion even a girl.
"No way" was one of my pet phrases.
Mr. Flynn would call a shot a goal that was suspect, in floor hockey for example.
Then I'd be upon him.
At first it was me and some other whiners, but then they tired of the act and it was left to me to plead the case, solo.
I like to think I kept Mr. Flynn and the proceedings honest, but I was likely just ruining things for everyone else.
So, sorry, everyone else. You deserve an apology, too.
I heard that Mr. Flynn, in the summer months, was a bet-taker at DRC, the old horse racing course at Middlebelt and I-96.
No doubt he had to settle some disputes while in that role, too.
What, you disagree?