…is what my mother (yes, my own mother!) used to call me when I was in junior high and high school. Because I was pretty scared of anything having to do with sports or athletics. It had to do with a combination of stories but one she liked to repeat was when I went on some school-sponsored ski trip, and ended up on an expert slope (which I was SO NOT). I was wearing blue jeans, and I was so terrified I ended up taking off my skies, holding them in my lap and sliding, or scooching down the hill on my butt, leaving a long wiggly blue streak on the snow. Or so the legend goes. My mother loved that story, and loved repeating it, and loved calling me Chicken Ito. Which I would respond to with some sort of weak smile, but inside it just made me shrivel.
Because I was also terrified of any sport involving a ball. She signed me up for years (WAS it years? It felt like it) of private tennis lessons, and I never got beyond using the racket as a sort of face-shield. I was petrified of volleyball and basketball and softball, ANYthing that involved a ball coming anywhere near my body. Dodgeball? Utter terror. I was the one always cowering in the corner with my hands over my face. Maybe because I wore glasses. And orthopedic shoes. Ack.
Was she the one who came up with that name for me, or did she just perpetuate it? I don’t know. At any rate, if you mention it to her now, she will still get the chuckles. Ha ha.
She was always the jock in our family. She played tennis or racquetball several times a week, and was known to slam the ball at people so hard they’d get huge bruises. It scared me.
When our church group went to the YMCA down the street to play basketball after church, my mother always got picked for teams ahead of me. Always. She was four foot ten. I was five foot four. But I was notoriously afraid of any ball and she was fearless.
Chicken Ito will raise (or hide) her chickeny little head whenever I contemplate the word “exercise,” or worse, SPORT. Bak-bak-bak. Thus, it has the top position on my list of Excuses.