Going for Gold (or a trip to the ER)

My kids and I have been avidly watching the Olympics.  We watch the events live during the day.  We watch the recorded events in the evening.  We watch until the programming goes off the air here and the folks in London are crawling home from the pubs.  (I actually have no idea when Londoners crawl home from pubs or even if they crawl home from pubs, but our American programming did a whole segment on pub crawls in London, and if the TV says so, it must be true.)

I think it’s safe to say we have Olympic Fever.  But there’s this phenomenon that happens every time the Olympics come around.  Perhaps you’re familiar with it.  Maybe it happens with you too.  After spending obscene amounts of time watching these athletes perform, I start to think, I can do that!  These incredible athletes make their perspective sports look so darn easy that I find myself believing that I can do anything they do which is a joke because even when I was young, thin, and in good condition, I couldn’t do any of those things.  I’m quite possibly the most unathletic person on the planet.  In fact, I still occasionally awaken in a cold sweat from nightmares wherein I relive the humiliation of trying to climb to the top of the rope in my grade school gym class while my peers look on, laughing.

I was at the pool with my kids yesterday when I decided I was just as good as Michael Phelps.  I jumped into the water and started swimming, convinced I could cover 400 meters in three and a half minutes.  However, being old, out-of-shape, and recovering from a blood clot in my lung, I didn’t quite make it.  I swam 10 meters, stopped, gasped for breath, then decided swimming was for fish.  But . . .

There’s still synchronized swimming!  I could totally do that!  Well, I could do the Martin Short, SNL version of synchronized swimming at least.  You know, standing in waist-high water while pointing at someone.  “I know you!  I know you!”  Okay, maybe synchronized swimming is out too.

Volleyball!  I can play volleyball!  I could totally hold my own with Misty and Kerri!  How hard could it possibly be to hit a ball over a net, right?  Anyone can do that!  I’d probably be on the Olympic volleyball team myself if it wasn’t for one tiny little detail.  I scream and duck anytime the ball comes near me.  What?  It could cause some serious pain if you took a volleyball in the face!  If I could just get over my fear of the ball, I know I could win gold.

But gymnastics . . . my favorite sport to watch is gymnastics.  Those guys flip around like they’re weightless.  They make it look absolutely effortless! 

“I could do that,” I said aloud to no one in particular, after watching a remarkably agile gymnast complete her floor routine.  My kids heard me.  And laughed.  Uproariously.  They fell off the couches laughing.  They held their stomachs and rolled on the floor laughing.  They laughed until tears rolled down their cheeks.  They snorted.

“What?” I asked incredulously, completely absorbed in the delusion that I was a gymnast. 

“You think you can do that?” my kids asked, eyebrows raised, heads cocked toward the TV.

“Well, it would take some practice,” I admitted.

“Go ahead, Mom.  Show us what you can do,” my kids challenged.

“Okay,” I happily agreed, jumping from the couch to prove what an awesome athlete I am.  I got down on my knees and put my head to the floor to demonstrate my amazing somersault skills. 

“Go ahead, Mom.  Let’s see,” my kids taunted me.

“I’m afraid I’m going to flop onto my back and it’ll hurt.”  I stalled.

“You can’t make it to the Olympics if you can’t even do a somersault, Mom!”

“Give me a minute!” I snapped.  “This takes time.  I need to psych myself up for this.”

“Okay, you keep telling yourself that, Mom.”

“Okay, here I go . . .”  I leaned forward.  Then stopped.  Then leaned forward again.  Then stopped and sat back on my knees.  Then leaned forward.  Then stopped again.

“Yeah, Mom.  Don’t quit your day job.”

So maybe I won’t ever compete in the Olympics.  But it would be a shame to put all these hours of watching to waste.  Obviously, with my copious experience, I should be a judge.  Now please excuse me.  I’m off to critique the uneven bar performances.

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