GateHouse — Meandering thoughts from watching two weeks of Olympic excitement, which I have enjoyed very much, although I think I’m all set on watching diving for a few years. Diving is the perfect Olympic sport, because when it’s on during the Olympics it’s tremendously fun to watch, even though the announcers are, as I’ve written before, unconscionable jerks. “Oh, Jim, his legs weren’t anywhere NEAR parallel on that dive; he is a shame and embarrassment to anyone who’s ever loved him,” one will say, while I sit with my beer and wonder how anybody can perceive that level of detail at all, as the whole of my ability to process diving goes like this:
- “OK, there’s the uncomfortably underclothed guy standing on the platform.” (Seriously, anyone out there complaining about hip-hop videos, may I direct you to the wardrobe departments of Olympic men’s diving and women’s beach volleyball. I’m just saying; I’ve paid to see less skin than this.)
- “He’s jumping.” (or, sometimes, falling out of a handstand performed on a board two miles in the sky)
- “There is a blur of hands and feet and spinning, much like when Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck get into a fight and all you see is the occasional fist, leg and duck bill.”
• OK, fine, I admit it, there’s no use keeping up the charade: I am 14 years old. You can’t tell, because I write like someone who’s at least 17, but no, really, I’m 14 years old, and am scribbling most of this column on the back of a Jonas Brothers sticker.
Really, I was going to continue this joke about the wee Chinese gymnasts, and include my brother’s line about the one who tripped on her umbilical cord on the way to the pommel horse, but I’m told that Important Executives are in the process of working the controversy out, and ensuring that next time the gymnastic competition will be only open to those of an age able to handle the grueling physical and emotional stresses of an insanely pressure-laden, worldwide competition, like 16.
• Listen, I know we’re all about Michael Phelps, everybody loves the Michael Phelps, and it’s true that he’s the greatest thing that’s ever been in the water that you couldn’t fillet up and/or dip in a nice butter sauce.
I’m probably just saying this because he’s an eight-time gold medalist this year and I sit in a dark room writing semi-humor columns with a whiskey bottle at my feet, but let me tell you something about Michael Phelps: That guy is TERRIBLE at gymnastics. Also, he smells like pool.
• I can’t prove this, but I’d imagine that the Olympics represents the greatest competitive disconnect between amount of training required and amount of time actually expended competing.
These people train and train and train, and their event is over in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. In gymnastics, when you choke, it’s over in a blink. In other sports, and life, failure sort of drags on endlessly. So I’m thinking about becoming a gymnast.
• I would think about becoming a gymnast, except that gymnasts are required to do one thing I am incapable of: the Glaringly Insincere Hug. The one that says, “What, did you just fall off the uneven bars or something, I didn’t see it ’cause I was in the bathroom.” The one that says, “I mean, the three of us held up our end of the team competition, but your inability to remain on a balance beam for 90 seconds isn’t worth nearly as much as our friendship.” The one that says, “I have to act nice to you or Bela Karolyi will kill this innocent koala bear.”
I am reasonably sure that whenever I booted a ground ball in Little League, or, more likely, whiffed pathetically on several pitches well outside the strike zone, I didn’t get hugs from my teammates when I slunk back into the dugout. I do, however, remember twice getting punched in the back.