Every fourth day we sixth-graders were required to participate in physical education in the giant gymnasium complex at the far end of the school. Girls and boys funneled into separate echoing locker rooms for a few harried minutes before spilling out again on the other side, changed and tensed for action. Adult instructors stood ready at the door to yell for stragglers. Whistles shrieked. Sneakers squeaked. In my haste I sometimes pulled my hair into too tight a ponytail and the edges of my forehead ached and sweated throughout class. The forty-five minutes were miserable: bodies ran in all directions, balls of all sizes bounced about and the boys hogged them, yelling at each other in an unrelenting cacophony.