Exhausted Olympics, Le Fin: In Which We Get Tired of Curling | Sports

Exhausted Olympics, Le Fin: In Which We Get Tired of Curling

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As part of our ongoing, comprehensive coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics, we have assigned chronic insomniac Elizabeth Nelson and brand-new, first-time father Mike V. to turn on the TV and share their reflections whenever they might happen to remember to do so. The INDY's Exhausted Olympics Coverage™ is the sole property of the INDY, and in the event of a legal dispute, the party that loses must pay the winning party's court costs. In today’s final edition, Mike V. ponders press credentials, tires of curling, finally takes his long-suffering wife out for hot dogs, and ponders many more baffling Olympics to come with his young son.

Monday, February 19, 1:15 a.m.
I saw a badge adorning a well-wisher during the ice dancing competition that would suit me well. A short, dark-haired man likely in his forties stood beside two breathless and hopeful Olympians, a giant red credential hanging around his neck.

Kiss and Cry, it read.

I have no idea what such a credential might get you in Pyeongchang. Beyond unfettered access to the little holding pen where skaters wait to receive their scores, what exactly is a Kiss and Cry badge good for?

Are you crying because you are forced to leave after the good luck kiss? Or maybe the kiss is for luck, the cry is for the result. The good cry reserved for a podium finish. The bad cry for a tumble on the ice, Olympic hopes dashed.

If we gave out credentials for access to our house, we might have VIP passes, given only to those who can come visit our new baby anytime day or night with nary an invitation. My sister and her family. Emily’s sister. Our fathers. VIPs don’t need to knock. Just flash a badge and come on in.

There would be press passes, reserved for those who might want to brag to our mutual friends via their social channels that they got to meet our son first. They’d pose while cradling his tiny body in their arms, captioning, “Finally met the little man! #miracle #lovelovelove” or something annoying like that.

Our friends and coworkers who graciously volunteered for an ongoing meal train would wear badges that read Catering or Craft Services. These are arguably the most important and highly appreciated passes doled out. These passes help keep us nourished and sane.

My wife and I, of course, would be credentialed with the mysterious Kiss and Cry badges. In our house, it would mean exactly what it says, because that seems like all my wife and I have been doing in the eight days since our son has arrived. Kissing him uncontrollably and crying far too often at the wonder that is a new life.

Having a child has tapped a deep well of emotion inside of me that I had heretofore not known existed, and in the last eight days, I have shed more tears than in my first thirty-five years combined. I cry when I fold his clothes. I cry when he wraps his tiny hand around my giant finger. I cry when he falls asleep quietly in my cradled arm. I cry when he cries. I cry when he doesn’t. I cry a lot.

Maybe all I have to do to get rinkside seats at the next Olympics is show up with my son. I’ll arrive, he’ll smile or be sleeping quietly or make a new face or do any of the myriad things that now sends me into hysterics, we’ll collect our Kiss and Cry badges, and there we’ll be, beside two bedazzled Olympics hopefuls, huffing and puffing, waiting for their scores, waiting to see if they’ll get the good cry or the bad.

Medal count: 12
Diaper count: 68

Wednesday, February 21, 12:45 a.m.
Enough with the curling. It’s gone too damn far. Every time I turn on Olympic coverage, there is without fail a curling event televised somewhere. Men versus men. Women versus women. Mixed doubles. Every iteration of curling is apparently available for viewing at seemingly every hour of the day.

Yesterday, as we prepped the boy for one of his first forays into the outside world, curling played quietly on the television. When we arrived forty-five minutes later to the hot dog restaurant my wife has been unable to enjoy for nine pregnant months, curling took over no less than four of their flat screens. Back home a few hours after that—more curling.

For one reason or another, the programming gurus have heard our united voices, and those voices have apparently screamed that we cannot get enough of this ridiculous sport.

As I’ve written before, to rise to the level of Olympic athlete is no small feat. To be the best in the world at anything is an honor that deserves recognition. But America’s nascent fascination with curling, something that no doubt was born in jest, has come to a head with this year’s games.

There are people skiing down mountainsides at seventy miles per hour, bobsled teams whipping down the fiercest and most dangerous roller coaster on Earth, figure skaters who are holding each other up one-handed while spinning ferociously on ice. There are Olympic athletes almost every minute of every day performing feats that are nothing short of miraculous.

And yet here we sit watching grown men and women Swiffer ice.

I get it. Curling is goofy, it’s fun, and, unlike every other Olympic sport, it’s a game we’ve all convinced ourselves we can do. But enough with the curling.

Shouldn’t we be watching people fly through the Korean sky on skis instead?

Medal count: 16
Diaper count: 81

Tuesday, February 27, 3:17 p.m.
The Olympics are over. Four years of yearning and anticipation for the athletes, a few weeks of excitement for us all, now in the past. Some have gone home with medals. Some have gone home with crushing disappointment. At least one probably went home with a sack full of stuffed teddy bears.

Was it a success? I have no idea. I guess? But then again, I have no control group by which to measure. I don’t really get the Olympics. If I did, this would have been a wholly different column. I suppose I could analyze the American envoy’s performance and judge it against past Olympic outings, counting medal for medal where we improved as a nation and where we slipped. But I’m entirely too tired for that.

From my cursory and very blurry recall, I think two things might be true: our women beat Canada for a hockey gold and that one skier didn’t win five medals like she’d hoped.

I wonder about that skier. About her life in the four years between the games. I’m sure she’s a professional, but is there a worldwide market for downhill skiers? It seems like something the Austrians would be really into. No doubt they couldn’t pick Derek Jeter out of a lineup, but watch while they easily recount the results of the last five World Cup super g championships. If there is such a thing.

I hope that skier gets what she’s after.

Anyway, I’d like to say that it’s been real, but I’m not sure it has. At least on the Olympic side. In the end, I found myself watching a lot more of this and a lot less of this. Probably a product of my being saturated with curling, thus changing the channel with each passing competition. So I guess it hasn’t been real.

On the home side, real is the only way to describe it. When you have a human life form in your hands, relying on you to survive, whose very existence is your doing and whose continued existence is your responsibility, shit gets pretty real pretty quick. The last two and half weeks have at once been a terrifying wash of joy, fear, excitement, panic, contentment, and about a million other emotions that I can’t entirely describe. In short, it’s been very, very real.

But as for the Winter Olympics. All I can say is that they’re done. And they’ll be back in four years.

The only way the Winter Olympics will matter in any real sense to me going forward is the way in which they relate to my son. I think how those games will be markers of his life. I think I’ll always remember how, during his first few weeks, we watched together, mom and dad exhausted on the couch, baby boy sleeping silently and content on our chests.

I think of the near future: he is four, and I am explaining to him what exactly a luge is as we sip hot chocolate under our fuzzy Mets blanket. He is eight and he’s been to a few mountains, on a few ski trips with mom and dad, taken some lumps and gotten back up. He is twelve and he’s skating circles around his creaky old man, with a preternatural sense for puckhandling and a devastating slapshot. He is sixteen and he is hitting the massive icy halfpipe, much to his nervous parents’ dismay. He is twenty. He’s a man now and he’s starting to create his own life.

Whether those years culminate in Olympic glory or not doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is that he’s safe, healthy, and confident.

The only given is that by then, we’ll be done changing diapers.

Medal count: 23
Diaper count: 143


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