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Monday, 18 August
If Looks Could Kill They Probably Will

As I type, the tiny little whores are finishing up their uneven bars competition, and Nastia is stalking around looking like someone took a dump in her hair, probably rightfully so, given the inanity of the minutae involved in Olympics scoring, which once again makes me want to erupt into a ridiculous rant about non-objective Olympic events, and which also makes my wife sigh and wander distractedly over to the whiskey bottle.

Every year I tell myself I won't watch the Olympics. Every year it's a stupid lie to myself; I always watch. What the hell do you do with shit like gymnastics? It's not like Michael Phelps, where the question is easy: who got to the end of the race the fastest? It's not like ping-pong or volleyball where it's: who scored the winning points first? With gymnastics and so many other sports, it's: who was more awesome? Which is obviously where it gets sticky and fraught with all kinds of nonsense, and where I start to go crazy.

I curse the Olympics even as I watch. What other bizarre pageantry-laden event could actually find me agreeing with that foaming, manic werewolf Bela Karolyi as he hollers thickly about the laughably underaged Chinese entrants? GO, BELA! I think to myself. Then I remember: He is a raving madman. What's wrong with you? Indeed.

What other international circus of madness could possibly persuade me to watch--as I did earlier today--something as comprehensively stultifying as a rowing competition? Not to take anything away from those fine competitors, but who wants to watch rowing? If it's all about a bunch of people rhythmically pistoning away for ten minutes and grunting with effort, I say let's see some Olympic group masturbation. In 2012, we can make it happen: ten-man Come on A Cracker. Non-medalists have to eat the cracker.

I was talking with the wife about this a little bit, and I guess here's what gets me about the Olympics, maybe what some would call the Olympic SpiritTM. It's this: say you're an Olympic-class swimmer; say you're from Greece, or Georgia, or Cyprus. Wherever. Repeat that to yourself for a moment: you're Olympic-class. You can kick everyone's ass you know, everyone in your own country. Hell, you can kick the ass of everyone in the world except for maybe a dozen other people. This is how good you are: you're better at what you do than everyone in the world except for a vanishing fraction of a number of people. You're essentially a superhero when it comes to this one thing, this one exceedingly specialized talent that you've spent years and years honing to perfection. Again: hardly anyone on the planet is even remotely as good as you at this thing you do. In this example, swimming.

So there you are. Nobody else in the three or five or ten million of your home country's populace can touch you in the pool. Literally: you'd just fucking swim away from them while they paddled like drowning dogs in a notional game of Marco Polo. You secretly think to yourself: We should make Marco Polo an Olympic event, because I would kick everyone's asses. Frankly, you're ridiculous.

And so, of course, you go to the Olympics. You travel halfway across the goddamn fucking world, because in your insane, wildly circumscribed, strange world, you're practically untouchable. A dozen people can do what you do, and that is: swim like a crazy motherfucker with a turbine lodged up your ass. And you look over and see Michael Phelps. And you realize: you are dead.

So here's what it's come to. After years--decades?--of busting your ass, you're about to be utterly demolished by some goddamn freak who eats nineteen dead dogs before he even gets out of bed; this bloody mutant who looks like his hands were grown in a vat; some infuriating yokel whose heart vomits oxygenated blood into his system like Chris Holmes after a distillery tour.

Realize that barring something like a freak stroke or a lightning strike that there is nothing you can do about this. All you can really do is stare hopelessly at this gormless nincompoop and know despair. You're going to get your ass handed to you, probably on a tarnished platter, maybe with a rancid maraschino cherry lodged in the asshole if Phelps is feeling nice. After all this, all you can do is maybe hope to be in the same frame as him as he trounces the fields, and probably not, since you're from Cyprus after all, and so are not worthy of any of NBC's precious film. You're about to be carved up badly; everyone knows this. This is what you've worked for: ignominy.

What do you do? Well, you get in the fucking pool, don't you? Hey, everyone loves a Cinderella story, right? It could be you! Right?

Nah. It's not going to be you. You get into the pool anyway. You bust your fucking ass, too--it's amazing, really: you swim the meet of your life. You get demolished, of course. It isn't even close. Nobody is surprised. In fact, nobody cares about you at all. Nobody even mentions your name.

Years you spent doing this. You're one of the best in the world. Nobody cares. You're a footnote at best. You're done, by the way; your event is over. You're peeling off sheets of dead, chlorine-toxic skin while Phelps is over there getting sucked off by some NBC flack, his eyes pinwheeling goonishly in his sockets; later, he'll fuck a bunch of Swedish racewalking entrants while eating a pizza.

You might get to say hi to LeBron James, maybe. A year from now--no, a week--, you'll be forgotten. Were you even remembered? You don't know. Four years later, hey . . . why not try again?

I love you for doing this.


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Comments

Every *year* you tell yourself you're not watching the Olympics?

I promised myself I wouldn't watch this year. Something about human rights and pollution and lead paint on my Barbies. And yet here I am, like every other moron, cheering for this half dolphin freak with the teeth from Great Brittan.

Comment number: 017512   Posted by: Topher on August 19, 2008 02:10 AM from IP: 76.168.74.250

Oh, the ridiculous sports I've been watching.

Pommel horse, water polo, indoor cycling. I watched the rowing, too. And it was worth it, to me, to see their coaches biking alongside them on a path by the water, nearly crashing into each other as they keep their eyes on their team.

Yeah, Olympic Fever is like herpes.

Comment number: 017513   Posted by: Joe on August 19, 2008 06:19 AM from IP: 68.160.253.68

YES, EVERY YEAR! DON'T MAKE ME LOOK STUPID! I mean, clearly, I can do that without any help.

Comment number: 017514   Posted by: Skot on August 19, 2008 07:32 AM from IP: 66.150.9.2

They could just cut the whole thing down to trampolining and I'd be content. Sure, you have to deal with subjective judging but the bouncy, bouncy more than makes up for it.

Just two and a half weeks of trampoline. Maybe every so often someone tosses them a gun and they have to shoot something. I'd watch.

Comment number: 017515   Posted by: Lysistrata on August 19, 2008 08:26 AM from IP: 24.35.54.82

Not only do the lesser-Olympian athletes feel inadequate, we fans get our dose of it too. This past week I was watching fencing with my thirteen year old son.

He's asking question after question after flippin' question God-bless-him and my response to the first was, "I dunno".

Then, "I dunno" to the second.

Then, "I still dunno" to the third 'what's fencing all about type' question in two seconds.

And finally for the next question I laughingly said, "Hey, let me leave the room for five minutes and come back and then you'll be the fencing expert and I can ask you questions!!"

He looked at me, blinked, and I could see me becoming a bit more human and a little less Dad-on-high-like as the seconds ticked by. That's teenagers for ya.

But then beach volleyball came along and all was right with the world. His only question was, "How come they wear such tiny suits?" I answered with, "Just because....You don't mind do you?" To which he responded with an, "Uh, no!"

Comment number: 017516   Posted by: brad on August 19, 2008 11:45 AM from IP: 138.163.106.71

I timed my maternity leave perfectly. Came home from the hospital with a newborn baby just in time to catch the Opening Ceremonies, and have been glued to the couch for overnight nursing sessions with the beach volleyball and rowing replays on NBC going in the background.

At this point, all is takes for my milk ducts to start leaking is Bob Costas' voice.

Comment number: 017518   Posted by: Jennie on August 21, 2008 08:43 AM from IP: 65.1.106.76

Chris Holmes. Nice. How many of you got that one?

Comment number: 017530   Posted by: spinal on August 28, 2008 08:01 PM from IP: 68.28.51.124

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