I am writing about the Olympics. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Olympics combine everything I treasure most in the world. Tradition, athletics, celebrity-spotting, hastily-produced thematic pop music, round-the-clock live tv coverage that gets awkward a lot, a sweet attempt at international harmony and Bud Greenspan.*
I wasn’t sure how to tackle this post because my Olympic memories and thoughts on the event are very disjointed. But if you read my blog regularly, you’re accustomed to disjointed. Maybe you’re even a little disjointed yourself?
What are your memories and random thoughts on the Olympics?
My memories of the Olympics include:
THE SOVIETS and the humorless Eastern Bloc nations. That is the overriding memory from my childhood. It was so very serious. The threat of nuclear war, that is. The Olympics were just a stage for our hardcore clash of ideology and outfits. The Soviets with their red and gold, hammer and sickle. The US with its 80s glitz. All the defectors adding to the tension of competition. (I’m talking about you, Bela Karolyi.) I learned what “boycott” meant when we refused to attend the Moscow Olympics (though I remember having a stuffed “Misha” bear, the Moscow mascot) and when the Soviets returned the favor in Los Angeles.
SWIMMING was my sport and it was a big deal to watch it on tv. Janet Evans was my age and when she broke all kinds of long-distance records, I remember feeling proud of my generation, but also envious. She was so celebrated and cute and I was jealous. I could never muster that kind of commitment and lung power. Not with my lofty social aspirations and fear of goggle tan lines.
|The closest I ever came to competing was this official 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics bathing suit. I am rocking it with my cheesy hair and super hot… brother.
Another swimming connection includes the very incredible Michael Phelps. We lived less than a mile from him in Baltimore and, before he was famous, Lu took her first swim classes at the pool where he trains. I swear I saw him around town before I knew anything about his talents or potential. In most cases, world class swimmers stand out like crazy because their bodies are borderline bizarre. Long torsos, long arms, short legs, broad shoulders. I just know I waited behind him at Uncle Wiggly’s Ice Cream Shop. Michael, if you read my blog, please confirm. Would have been about 2003.