I’m Mad, and You’re in Trouble

e19Every morning, as I head to the library after dropping the kids off at school, I listen to the music on my cellphone. I have a rather eclectic mix- it ranges from metal to pop, to folk. The only unifying feature, really, is that the songs I pick have to have some value or meaning. They need to be either uplifting, motivating, or relaxing. Or, they can be angry. Not the kind of angry that has the artist screaming about killing everybody, but the kind of angry that says “I’ve had enough, and you’re in trouble.”

It’s a gross understatement to say that life in my little family can be difficult. Lately, with me working my tail off at my new job as an editor of science research papers, my man confined to his bed and recliner with double pneumonia , my two kids being seriously attitude-y (except I can’t get too mad, because the little buggers are being…well…exactly like me when I was their age)… I am starting to feel like I want to scream.

So, I’ve been listening to the angry “I’ve had enough” music a lot.

This morning, it was Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Going to Take it”. Cliché, I know. Still… it gets the job done. It helps me gird myself, pull up my big girl britches, and bulldoze my way through whatever particular crap I’m dealing with.

It also reminds me of my early high school years; grades nine and ten, to be exact. I thought it might be good for me to join the school’s intramural girls’ volleyball team. Although I’ve never been much one for team sports, I loved being part of that team. We were a bunch of awesome girls who just loved playing the game and being active. We were (almost) always hospitable, when we hosted other teams for a game.

I say “almost”, because there was one team we had a less-than-friendly rivalry with.

There was a good reason, too. I went to a public high school. Not only that, but it didn’t exactly have a fantastic reputation as a quality establishment. The other team belonged to an upper-class private school and they, unfortunately, had the hoity-toity “holier than thou” attitude to match. They put on a thin veneer of hospitality whenever they hosted another team at their school, but everyone knew exactly how thin it was. Since our schools were vastly different, in terms of their reputation and overall attitude, students at that school tended to look down at those attending the school I went to. The fact that they won more games than they lost (in all sports, and in both genders), and had won the intramural finals in girls’ volleyball every year for 10 years running didn’t exactly help.

Our team, on the other hand… we won some, we lost some. To the best of my knowledge, it had been a long time since my high school even made it to the semi-finals. So, we were the underdog.

In my grade ten year, the team was basically made up of the same players, and we had the same coach. We had a good year, and made it into the finals. All that year, we’d been getting trash-talked by our rivals. It was the usual… they were better than us… we’d never win against them… we should just kneel down and worship them…

It was getting annoying.

A week before the game, we found out were going to play against our rival team, and that the loser would be knocked out of the race. My coach decided to try something different. She started playing deafeningly loud music at every practice. She started telling us to put on a confident attitude, a “We’re going to win” attitude… even if it was fake… because it would come across in our game.

The finals that year were hosted by our school. Not only did we have the usual spectators, but we had teams and spectators from 20 other schools watching. During the pre-game practice, the coach put on Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Going to Take It”- loud.

The moment I remember the best was when, just before the game started and we were all in our positions, the rival coach yelled over to our coach: “What’s it feel like, knowing your team is going to lose in front of all these people?”

My coach, bless her soul, simply extended her middle finger at the other woman, and smiled sweetly.

The first point was theirs. We had to give them something, after all.

The game went on for a good 45 minutes, but we thrashed them. I can’t remember what the final score was, but they never got any further than that one point.

When the final point was made, the stands erupted- not because it was our team that won, but because we humbled that holier-than-thou group of hoity-toity snobs, and made it possible for some other team to win the finals. I was right behind our coach, when we started going down the line to shake hands with the (sullen) other team. I distinctly heard her say to the other coach:

“What does it feel like to know that your team just got spanked by the underdog, in front of all these people?”

Although our team didn’t win the finals, it was O.K- we made a few points:

Don’t be too high and mighty, because someone might just knock you off your horse.

When people step all over you… straighten up and throw them off.