Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gold Standard

Well, the fireworks are done, everyone has packed up their bags and headed home. Yes, the Olympics are over.
Thank God.
It’s been a month of pure torture in the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda. The first two weeks were bad enough, but then, just when I thought sanity was prevailing once more, the madness started all over again with the Para Olympics, an event I’d completely forced out of my head.
For two people who think consider the steps at Palais Renaissance too much of a physical exertion (hence the detour to the side ramp), it’s astonishing how sports obsessed the girls are.
They watched everything that was on. Even when nothing was happening like people milling about just before the start of the men’s 100-m.
“What do you think Usain’s time will be?” Saffy asked, her eyes fixed on the screen with the kind of concentration rarely seen outside of a National Geographic wildlife special on the feeding rituals of starving lions.
“Sub-10.5,” Amanda replied. Later, over drinks with the boys, I told Barney Chen that it was like being in a parallel universe.
“They won’t even run to catch a bus, but somehow, they even knew his past two run times!” I complained.
“There’s something very unnatural about women being so interested in sports,” Barney observed carelessly. “Anyway, were you watching the diving? Have I already told you about my obsession with Tom Daley?”
I sighed. “He’s barely legal. Stop it!”
Karl looked up from his beer and said Marsha, his horrible wife, wouldn’t let him watch anything, though he’d been hanging out all year to watch the women’s volleyball.
“Why is that even an Olympics sports?” I groused. “Seriously.”
Karl looked confused. “Girls in bikinis, bouncing on sand, ripped thighs. What’s your point?”
“OK, girls and ripped thighs?” Barney said. “That’s just a gross sentence.”
The worst part of it was that I couldn’t watch any other TV show. Amanda had specially signed up for a sports channel on cable and so, that’s all that was screening for a month in the flat: People running, jumping, diving, lifting, squatting, leaning, heaving. And when they weren’t doing that, there was a lot of replays and studio commentary by people that nobody remembered, so they had to be captioned as ‘Olympian Champion’.
And it wasn’t as if the girls were discriminating the way Barney was (“I only want to watch the men’s diving, men’s water polo and the men’s gymnastics!”) or Karl wanted to be (“Don’t ask me why, but I do adore those synchronised swimmers, but Marsha says she wants to watch the judo finals.”).
No, the girls watched everything.
They watched the weightlifting with the same complete lack of discrimination as they did the women’s marathon. Now, I don’t know about you, but nothing happens during a marathon. It’s just people running for hours. They look bored as they’re jogging down the streets. Nobody crashes like you might do during a Formula 1 race. There’s no loud noise and confusion as leads change in micro-seconds (ditto). No exciting pit-stops to change outfits (ditto). But the way the commentators get all excited about it, you’d think the runners were juggling five balls in the air while balancing an egg on their head and singing the theme song to ‘Titanic’.
“Look at the steady pace that Blah Blah Blah is keeping,” one commentator said. “And watch how Yack Yack Yack is coming up close behind him and, yes, Yack Yack Yack has now taken the lead! Oh, this is such thrilling stuff!”
“Are you kidding me?” I shouted at the screen. “We’ve been watching this for an hour and nothing has happened!”
The men’s cycling was even worse. Just a bunch of bicycles endlessly circling the Velodrome.  
“I want to watch ‘Vampire Diaries’!” I yelled at one stage, desperately wrestling with Saffy on the couch for the remote control. “Why are we watching the men’s shot put?”
“We’re not,” Saffy grunted as she viciously dug an elbow into my ribs. “It’s the women’s event!”
I stopped struggling and sat up. “Really?” I asked, showing interest at the TV screen for the first time. “Shut up, that’s a woman?”
Of course, you can imagine how thrilled I was when it was finally all over, though that thrill lasted for about a week before the Para Olympics started. This time, the girls just focused on Oscar Pistorius.
“My God,” Amanda sighed. “Isn’t he just the most beautiful man you’ve ever seen in your life?”
Saffy puffed up. “I would have his baby in a heartbeat!”
Me, I’m saving up to buy a TV for my bedroom. 

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