Sports

Sports is a substitute for war, in a way, which is much better for the world than the real thing. Back when I wasn't so creaky, I played sports all the time. In high school I played football, where you get to hit other people and play in front of large crowds. In college I rowed on the crew team, where you inflict all the pain on yourself, and you do it in obscurity.

Sunday, 16 July 2017 06:00

Gold Medal Dreams

Well, I finally had a dream where I wasn’t caught using a toilet right in the middle of the Mall of America.


I was at the Summer Olympics in South Africa (“South Africa never hosted an Olympics,” you say? Well, those kinds of things don’t stop my dreams.) Somehow, I ended up in the 100 meter backstroke heats. My wife couldn’t keep from snorting at hearing that one. Anyway, I was assigned a lane at the edge of the pool. You know how they have 8 lanes in international competition? I must have been in lane 9. And because the pool seemed to slope gently down toward lane 1, lane 9 was approximately two feet deep. As we approached our starting positions, I felt the water come up to my knees. I slowly crouched and realized I was going to have to start in a sitting position. I looked around, wondering how I looked on camera. It was like I was in a kiddie pool.

I slowly crouched and realized I was going to have to start in a sitting position. I looked around, wondering how I looked on camera. It was like I was in a kiddie pool.

Well. You know you can always figure for some sort of shenanigans at the Olympics. Think the 1972 USA vs. USSR basketball farce. Or perhaps the marathon at the 1904 St. Louis games (extra credit to anyone who can read this article without peeing their pants. And that bit about Anthropology Days, can you imagine that?) When the starting horn sounded, I thrashed my arms with abandon, and although my technique hampered my speed, I was able to jump to an early lead by using my legs to push myself along the floor of the pool. I was a nobody, but here I was, hanging with the best swimmers in the world! As I made my turn, I heard the crowd roar at the underdog’s performance.

Amidst the water and the cheering, I even heard Jim McKay’s voice describing my performance as the most inspiring ever witnessed. I wasn’t sure if anyone could see that I was walking backwards down the home stretch, but that didn’t matter! I touched the wall in first place to the thundering adulation of the crowd. My USA Swimming teammates slapped me on the back and gave me chest bumps despite not even knowing my name ten minutes ago. Only my excitement eclipsed my confusion. I won the heat and was going to vy for the gold.

After getting showered and dressed, I went to a nearby restaurant with my parents and my wife to celebrate. I walked in, soaking in the sounds of the camera shutters and flashbulbs, and found one of my children already sitting at a table and waiting to eat. I frowned: I didn’t think I had kids yet. Then I remembered that, yes indeed, I had kids, three of them, and they hated waiting for dinner.

I was most excited by my race, because now I could stay at the Olympics instead of going right home as planned after winning gold in rowing. That meant I could attend my friend Scott’s wedding, who was due to marry his bride soon in this same city. I was going to have to buy a suit. And then I woke up. So there you go.

Published in Sports