Photo: The Twelve Olympians (I'm on the far left, with the triton).
Last night, at the Greenlake Bar & Grill, we sat at the bar with our food (not my first choice, the place was packed) and watched the Olympics. Without a television, we only catch the Olympics when we're outside of our home; we have a TV, but no cable or anything. It's only used to watch the occasional DVD, every six months or so. The minute we start paying for cable is the minute I start losing interest in other things, like everything, everywhere. It's too addictive--and promotes laziness--especially when the Olympics are on. I don't need more motivation to be lazy; 'sedentary' is my middle name.
Watching the Olympics has always been a big deal in my family; growing up, I actually counted the months and years until the next Olympics, and cared about where they would be held. I knew the names Birgit Fischer, Gerevich Aladar, Sir Stephen Redgrave, and Yelena Isinbayeva--each one was the true embodiment of an Olympian, the very definition of a 'winner', and not rolling in McDonald's ad campaigns. I wasn't a fair weather fan, I was an any-weather fanatic. I loved me some Mary Lou Rhetton, worshiped FloJo, and sobbed when I saw Oksana Baiul's gold-winning Olympic performance, The Swan, in 1994. Much like the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11, I remember where I was when I first saw these people. There aren't a lot of experiences in life where you get to feel exhilarated, especially for a cynic like myself, but that's the reigning emotion when I watch the Olympics: total exhilaration. I feel like I'm in a York Peppermint Pattie commercial--remember those? "When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie, I get the sensation of cold, crisp mountain air against my face, as I race towards lift-off, in the whole world championship ski jump!" My favorite rejected York Peppermint Pattie commercial from McSweeney's: "When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie, I feel the sensation of the Lord's righteous anger as he reveals his plan to use me as his holy instrument of judgment!"
As I got older, I felt that liking the Olympics was kind of dorky and time-consuming, so I only watched them at my parents' house. Now that I am older, I don't give a shit what people think (oh, if only that were true), but I don't have a TV, either. I feel like I should be watching them, as though it's the secret handshake in this fraternity called Earth, and I've forgotten how it goes.
When broken down to basics, what are the Olympics? The most popular, overpriced, over-hyped, over-advertised amateur games in the universe. Do you know how much money it takes to groom, train, manage, feed, pet, and tranquilize a Canadian curler? Or some yahoo for the biathlon? Yes, the biathlon, my favorite throwaway sport. Let's take two arbitrary activities (or how about one "normal" activity, and one oddball activity)--like cross-country skiing and rifle-shooting--then put them together and make an Olympic sport out of it. Or better yet, how about swimming four laps and then punching a midget in the face; that, to me, is just as random as the biathlon. Michael Phelps would probably win that one, too--he'd punch those midgets like a champion. Any sport, like the biathlon, that was started as alternative training for the Norwegian military sounds sketchy; how about we make an Olympic event that reflects our current military situation? It could be the Abu Ghraib Duathlon, which is a three-leg format; one running leg, one cycling leg, and then: human torture. If you think about it, that involves legs, too, in a very different way.
I'm glad the Olympics exist, and as the Esq pointed out, it's much cheaper than going to war with everyone. But this year feels weird, and I blame the Chinese for it. What's with the lip-syncing scandals and lying about age and the death cover-ups? Oh, people say, that's just the Chinese. Ohhh, I say, well MY BAD. You're right, we should totally be respectful of their scandalous country, unqualified gymnastics team, and the oppression of information. So *this* is what UNITY looks like. Go Communism.
I always wanted to be an Olympian, and last night I was trying to figure out which events I could compete in. I mean, there are the Special Olympics and the Paralympics; I wouldn't qualify for the Paralympics (not yet, anyway), and the Special Olympics... I know it's for the intellectually disabled (I am not this politically correct, that's just what it said on Wikipedia), but I think they would have to create the Lazy 'Lympics, just for people like me--so lazy, they couldn't even spare an O. Events would include eating cupcakes, punching Chuck Norris, taking anti-depressants on a semi-regular basis, and making out with your teammates (and then regretting it). They should definitely have an Olympics for future manic-depressives, and for those who hate activity--if they did, I would be the Michael Phelps of my events, hands down. I would be triumphant.