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The Complex Infrastructure Known As the Female Mind
By Relient K Mark Nicholas
Transit BooksCopyright © 2007 Relient K
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE ATHLETE
You know this person instantly upon sight or sound. Hearing the signature whiff whiff whiff of smooth Polyester/Lycra blend or the faint metallic clink of a dozen pant leg snaps should provide some clue. Seeing the three-stripe black or navy blue Adidas warm-up suit with the high, tightly pulled ponytail is an immediate, dead giveaway. Meet The Athlete. The Athlete participates in a minimum of three sports, usually consisting of volleyball (in the fall), basketball (in the winter), and soccer (in the spring). She may, however, participate in cross-country, swimming, and track & field. Please know that tennis and softball participants are usually not Athletes and play these sports as a hobby or on a recreational basis. Girls who play golf are never Athletes. Golf is not a sport.
Sometimes Workout Girl is mistaken for The Athlete, but they are two completely different people. The Work Out Girl drinks designer bottled water, attends Pilates class, and wears makeup when she does. She likes to wear matching workout gear and has a cute yoga mat that matches her cute yoga pants and top. She likes yoga because she doesn't have to get all sweaty and icky-and she can still look good with her makeup on. The Athlete has little patience for Work Out Girl. They have nothing in common and are not friends.
The Athlete is a high-spirited and competitive girl who likes to hang out with boys as much or more so than girls. We think that's cool. In fact, though she may enjoy hanging out with boys, The Athlete is always secretly trying to beat the boys in anything and everything. For instance, if she is mountain biking, her primary objective is, if not to keep up with the boys, to beat the boys in pedaling up a strenuous and treacherous trail. If she does, she is careful not to smirk, and she doesn't gloat but smiles to herself and basks in the glow of her victory. She loves to surpass boys in all their testosteroned glory. This is among her proudest moments and even guys seem to like a girl who can beat them at their own game. Why guys seem to be drawn to a girl who can show them up, we have no idea, but they do.
The Athlete craves the test, the competition, and the game. She is drawn to any sort of competition-like an upset child's ice cream cone is drawn to a sidewalk on a hot summer day. She is forever making a sport out of mundane things, like racing to finish lunch first, finishing her homework first, or doing pretty much anything first. The Athlete also enjoys sinking wadded notebook paper balls from long distances into trashcans. Though a bored male basketball player originally developed this particular non-sport in the mid 1960s, it has, in recent years, become quite popular with the bored female Athlete.
The Athlete is outgoing and personable and cool to be around. She is also funny and quick-witted. This might well be caused by the increased oxygen flow to her brain as she runs all over the place. However, this is just a guess, as oxygen=funniness is not a scientifically proven fact. Her funniness and fun-ness are pretty much constant, unless she has recently been defeated in a match, game, or other competitive act. If this happens, The Athlete is given over to a period of sullenness or mild depression. Don't worry. This will pass quickly because The Athlete will soon realize that there's always another act of competition to get psyched up for.
We have already touched on The Athlete's attire. It is a hard and fast rule that she prefers wearing windbreakers and other non-natural fibered clothing. You will never see her in a dress (not even at church), but she will wear a dress to prom, or so we're told. The Athlete's preferred method of hair styling is to fix her hair in a ponytail at the top and back of her head, WET, within the first 3 minutes of leaving the shower. This way there is no need for a hair dryer or any other hair device, and she can quickly get on with other competitive acts-like seeing how fast she can get dressed and out the front door on her way to school. (The Athlete's mother is always worried that her precious daughter will catch "her death of cold" because of her "wet head." The Athlete is the only type of girl to wander outside in the middle of winter with a "wet head." It is important to note that she never does catch "her death of cold.")
We should also mention that, although many Athletes attempt this fashion faux pas, the sports bra is not a Relient K-approved top to be worn out in public by The Athlete. It should be worn in conjunction with and under an approved shirt, like a Relient K hooded sweatshirt, which is a smart accessory for any soccer practice. Unless you are Brandi Chastain and have just won the 1999 Women's World Cup in soccer, there are no exemptions to this rule.
The Athlete always wears a rubber sports watch. It's always the kind that can go underwater to like 100 meters-'cause you never know when water polo may go DEEP. The Athlete will often use her sports watch to time herself while doing a variety of things. She always wants to see if she can beat her previous time. If there is no one else around to beat, she will always try to beat herself. Because of this, The Athlete is also a good student. She consistently will try and outdo her previous accomplishments. So don't be surprised to see The Athlete on the Honor Roll.
The Athlete is usually fairly popular. She is well known throughout the school, especially with her fellow athletes. This is fairly typical of athletes in general because they are the primary participants of spectator sports. People show up to watch them compete and thus know who they are. If she happens to be really good at one or more of her sports and lives in a smaller town, she is probably well known throughout the town. Folks at the post office or the grocery store are prone to talk about the successful Athlete and her latest game or match victory. What else is there to talk about in a small town? If she is a super good athlete and, say, wins the state title in the 1000m race, she may even be the Grand Marshal of that town's Fourth of July parade and be given the key to the city by the mayor. But that's only in a very small town. Even though most people know who she is, The Athlete usually has a smaller, close-knit circle of friends. Her friends tend to be other Athletes and that's no surprise. Of course, they might have a few friends that aren't big sports people, but no one knows The Athlete's life of working out, training, and competing like another fellow Athlete.
If you are beginning to think that The Athlete has no problems and her life is great, you are mistaken. The Athlete finds it hard to communicate her true feelings to others around her. Other people see her for what she most obviously is and that is The Athlete-the confident, outgoing, talented, sports-loving person and those are the things that most people relate to her about. Even with her fellow athletes, sports are the dominant theme of any conversation. But there is a whole other side to her that goes unnoticed. The Athlete wishes she fit in better with the girls and that boys see her more as a girl than a buddy. Guys tend to like to hang around The Athlete and think of her as more of a brother than as a girl. While she likes the challenge of competing with the boys, in her heart she would much rather be considered a girl (lady) who the boys like and find attractive and mysterious, instead of getting punched in the arm by them. And she feels that she is at some distance from other girls, too. Most non-Athlete girls don't identify much with all the sports and sweat and stuff that are so much a part of her life. It takes a lot of work for The Athlete and the non-athlete girl to find some common ground and to become friends. She can become trapped in a world of sports, and The Athlete has a hard time communicating her true feelings.
The Athlete likes church just fine, and especially the monthly youth group outings to play miniature golf, go cart racing, or bowling. This means competition. Since there is always an abundance of pizza at youth group functions, she may bring her own brown bag meal complete with energy bars and sports drink. Pizza slows her down and makes her feel sluggish. She doesn't like that feeling, as she never knows when she will need to be up and ready for a footrace (against a boy) in the parking lot. She does, however, have to give in once in a while for the occasional slice ... because as we all know, "everybody loves pizza." It almost goes without saying that her favorite Bible verse is "run the race to win" (1 Corinthians 9:24). She tends to make that her life's goal and ambition. She also loves the FCA meetings at school and may even be the president.
5 Clues that you might be The Athlete:
1. You own one dress that your mom made you buy for your cousin's wedding.
2. You stop by the gas station every morning before school to pick up some Gatorade and Powerbars.
3. Your wristwatch has a stopwatch and heart rate monitor and is waterproof.
4. You don't own any shirts with buttons.
5. You have never used a fake doctor's excuse or note from your parent to get out of gym class.
WHAT WOULD YOU FIND IN HER LOCKER? Cleats, an old ace bandage, athletic tape (but no pre-wrap 'cause pre-wrap is for wusses), gym bag, picture of Mia Hamm, empty water bottles FAVORITE MAGAZINES: SI, Basketball Digest, Runner's World
EMAIL SIGNATURE: "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." -Mahatma Gandhi
FAVORITE MOVIE: Bend It Like Beckham
FAVORITE MUSIC: Melanie C (aka Sporty Spice's sad solo career), Jock Jams, The Chicago Bulls' theme song TV CHANNEL OR SHOW: ESPN Sports Center
FAVORITE DRINK: Red Bull
SHOES: New Balance Cross trainers
PICTURE/POSTERS: David Beckham
Probable Nicknames: Killer or Spike
AFTER SCHOOL JOB: Practice, practice, practice
CLOTHING LABEL: Tie between Adidas and Nike
MAKEUP: no DID YOU KNOW ...? She sleeps in her uniform before a big game for good luck. (And guess who doesn't wash her socks for the same reason?)
Brian Pittman on THE ATHLETE:
I knew this girl named Julia. Once we hit junior high, Julia started to stand out. I was just glad to finally make it up to what seemed like the real world. People started to develop their own personalities. A lot of the girls were out buying all the latest clothes, but she seemed to be very comfortable in her sweatpants, proudly wearing her basketball #22 jersey wherever possible. As the year went on, she was always the one to wear the school colors and she never seemed to run out of Perry High School clothes. With each season came a new sport, and Julia seemed to love every single one of them. I got to know her through the years, and I run into her at home every once in a while. Last time I saw her she was wearing her senior basketball hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants. I was glad to see she was still at it.
Excerpted from The Complex Infrastructure Known As the Female Mind by Relient K Mark Nicholas Copyright © 2007 by Relient K. Excerpted by permission.
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