This week we’ve all been laid low with a fiendish combination of runny noses, sore throats, and pink eye, which basically means the entire apartment, including its occupants, are disgusting. And covered in used tissues & antibiotic ointment.
Luckily, we’ve got the Olympics.
Yeah, I’m one of those people. Summer or winter, I get giddy with anticipation, inflict the Opening Ceremony on everyone I can lure into my web of free food and jerry-rigged cable, and get openly optimistic about the future of the world. I pay too much attention to the heartfelt sob stories of the athletes who are competing for their sick mothers back home, or who overcame crippling poverty by running 40 miles every day, and I cheer for America with the kind of patriotism I otherwise reserve for inaugurations and protest marches. I’m a sudden expert on sports I only learned existed 10 minutes before, and yell unabashedly at judges whose scoring system I in no way understand.
“What are you, blind?! Did you see that triple-sow-cow-lutz?! That’s worth at least a 68! You gave the Russians a 71, and she almost fell on her second jump combination, even if it was during the second half of the program! This whole thing is rigged!”
I know that everyone loves the summer games better. They’re the glamorous, leggy blonde, to winter’s short, freckled redhead – no one would actually say the winter Olympics aren’t great, but, I mean, come on, have you SEEN summer?! But skiing is the only sport I’ve ever actually been any good at, and I think God put snow on the earth as an apology for that whole killing off the dinosaurs thing (I’m still mad at Her for that), so I’m that one oddball in the corner who even manages to get excited about curling, because it’s during my favorite season.
I can even turn a blind eye to the fact that this is a mostly Rich White People Olympics, seeing as it’s pretty damn hard to afford skis and lift passes if you don’t have enough food, but learning to run really fast in a circle is free. If the summer Olympics are the place where dreams become reality, the winter Olympics are where hundreds of thousands of dollars in private tuition and training fees might just get you a shiny medal to hang in your family’s informal rumpus room. Oh, Daddy shall be ever so pleased!
But even knowing that I’m just another product of White Imperialism, that I’m participating in massive social inequality and elitism… god dammit, have you watched Lindsey Vonn when she’s on form?! Granted, this year she was unreliable, but when she’s really doing her thing, it’s like the air gets sucked out of the room until she crosses the finish line. The complete disregard she shows for her own physical safety, the concentrated dedication to winning above anything else, is pretty insane. In a good way!
Especially if you’re a medical professional making serious bank off the absurd number of times she hurts herself, because: disregard for her own physical safety.
And then there’s this:
THEY BEJEWELED THEIR HEADSETS. THEY HAVE MATCHING-BUT-NOT-TOO-MATCHING OUTFITS. THEIR PATTER INVOLVES COMPARING SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRLS TO SPORTS CARS.
I’m hardly the first one to notice the over the top fabulousness of Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, but it needs to be said anyway. That’s some damn good Primetime television!
And then there are the moments! Oh, the moments!! Last night during the ski halfpipe the defending gold medalist’s skis literally fell off his feet during his first run. No worries, he has two more tries, and the best of three is the score he keeps. Second run…. his skis fall off his feet again. Like, the things that are supposed to be a continuation of his body, that he needs to take for granted while he goes spinning twenty feet through the air, just kept mysteriously falling off. At the Olympics. It was like watching somewhere between a car crash, a nightmare, and a virulent case of the flu, all at once.
On his third run, all I could think was how nervous I would be, how impossible it would be to commit to these dangerous stunts, because you’d constantly expect these things to fall off your feet yet again. How he was obviously going to fail.
Yep, he won gold.
It’s impossible not to love stories like that! I mean, okay, it’s probably entirely possible, but only if you’re dead inside. Or if you used to date him in high school and he was kind of an asshole. But otherwise, you’re legally required to be happy along with him for that one moment in time.
Maybe that’s why I love the Olympics so much. There’s plenty of heartbreak, and plenty of pandering, and plenty of what-the-shit-is-that-person-doing, but when things go just right? You get to be happy with thousands of other people, all over the world, all at the same time.
As my three year old would say, it’s magical!