I love the Olympics. I love the pomp and grandeur of the opening ceremonies, and was wildly impressed with the Queen’s game willingness to do a James Bond skit (though she may just have a crush on Daniel Craig, as does my mom, who texted me, and I quote, “Daniel Craig!!!! These are the best opening ceremonies ever!!!!”). I thanked the Olympic gods for the invention of the DVR, which allowed me to fast-forward liberally through the parade of nations and save myself 90 minutes of “What the hell is Benin?”-type comments. I got that swell of pride (as I stopped fast-forwarding) when the USA walked in, nattily attired in Chinese-manufactured uniforms, and wondered what the record is for oldest and least-athletic first-time Olympian, and if I’d have to take up shooting or archery since track is clearly out of reach. I’m aiming (ha! sorry) for Rio.
So on Saturday, I settled myself for a long day of cheering for the world’s finest athletes from my couch while eating tortilla chips (I’ll start my training on Monday), worried that by sleeping in I’d missed some critical race. Not to worry: The main event was men’s cycling, or an Amish, less-interesting version of NASCAR. And I actually watched it. (In my defense, the other options were tennis, meh; boxing, no way in hell; or fencing, but the outfits creep me out, they’re like storm trooper insects.) At one point, I heard the announcer say, “It’ll be a sprint to the finish!” and thought, “I want to get coffee, so I’ll read about it later.” When I returned home and turned on my television, the same announcer guesstimated that we were about forty minutes from the finish. FORTY. In this ADD-addled world, that is not a sprint, it is an Ironman triathlon. The most riveting part of the race occurred when the leader crashed into a barrier, gouged his arm and then attached himself to the hospital car to get stitched up at 40 miles per hour. (He lost. A guy from Kazakhstan won. I rooted for more crashes.)
Thankfully, the day picked up from there: Women’s volleyball and basketball (USA! USA!). I dabbled in table tennis, took in some men’s gymnastics and women’s soccer. If you normally gave me the option of watching table tennis or volleyball, I’d probably choose a deep, meditative silence, but thus is the power of the Olympics to transform an event from ungodly to fascinating (cycling notwithstanding).
I even watched so many swimming heats that I actually dreamt that I was in a race last night (it was a medley; I had to do the backstroke, which I don’t really know, so I winged it, no pun intended). When I woke up, my first thought, hand-to-God, was, “Wait, did I medal? Crap!” (Michael Phelps, alas, did not.)
It may, perhaps, be time for a break. What’s on this morning, though? Women’s cycling! Well, maybe I’ll just see if someone crashes…