Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tender Memories and Such

The Chinese women's gymnastics team is taking some heat about the purported age of several team members. I did catch the women's team finals, and I thought several of the girls looked around three years old.

Yes, Olympic rule-makers? Isn't it called "WOMEN'S gymnastics?" Per Olympic rules, young women must be sixteen years of age to participate. I don't know what the age of consent is in other nations, but if they want to call it WOMEN'S gymnastics, don't you think that participants should be able to vote, marry without parental consent, serve their country in the military, and/or sign a legal release form for Girls Gone Wild? (Which should really be called Women Gone Wild, if Joe Francis wants us to believe the participants are either willing or 'of age.')

Every year I pretend like I could care less about the Olympics, but then I'll watch some silly event and end up biting my nails, yelling, jumping on the couch and occasionally covering my eyes, saying, "Oh God, I just can't watch. Tell me when he nails it." I went with friends to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and we watched the US Men's Volleyball team get spanked by Brazil. This is only memorable to me because I got a giant black stain on the back of my white t-shirt from the damp stadium seating and had to change into an Olympic t-shirt, the only time I have ever attended an event festooned in clothing that celebrated that same event. The next day we watched men's water polo, which was much more interesting, but for other reasons...later, I drank Leinie's Berry Weis for the first time and rode on the shoulders of some Australian guy, waving the Australian flag and singing along to the live band busting out hits like "Brick House." Afterwards, as we rode the MARTA back to where we were staying, my friend Becky shouted, "Alright, whose breath smells like kitty litter?!?!"

It's the tender moments you remember, really.

Years earlier, when I was maybe eleven, I loudly declared during a family get-together as we watched the Olympics that someday, I would be a world-class swimmer. I would! I really would! Just watch me!

That worked out well for me, didn't it?

(PS: I was going to post a photo of our motley crew from 1996, but I realized I was wearing a fanny pack in NEARLY EVERY SHOT. So, sorry. No photos of me in a fanny pack will be allowed online.)
My deep gratitude to the excellent staff at Harry W. Schwartz bookstores, who hosted an amazing event for me last night. I had such a blast; thank you to everyone who came out! Plus, I got to meet some long-lost family...(hi Margaret and Morgan! You are both absolutely charming!!!)

I'm posting at The Debs tomorrow on my daily routine (how exciting should THAT be?), and if you're in Appleton, Wisconsin this Sunday the 17th, stop and see me at the Barnes and Noble from 1-3 pm. (4705 West Grande Market Drive)


  1. I actually was a swimmer for eleven years, so like you, I enjoy watching the Olympics....although I don't really get the age restriction on that to limit athletes who are too young?

  2. Anonymous8:30 AM

    Aw, there's no shame in fanny pack pictures. It was cool for a while.

    It was frustrating for me to watch the team gymnastics... all the Chinese girls were standing right beside our girls, and it was SO obvious they were not close to being the same age. You'd think that the Olympic official people would have asked some questions when they got documents claiming these girls were 16.

  3. Anonymous10:16 AM

    I love watching the Olympics, and take so much pride in all our teams...I love seeing old glory wrapped around our athletes shoulders...

  4. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Oh come on, those gymnasts have PASSPORTS from the CHINESE GOVERNMENT saying they're 16. So it must be legit.

    Even my husband was yelling "cut them open and count their rings" at the televison Tuesday...

  5. Anonymous10:40 AM

    I think a fanny pack may have been forgivable twelve years ago when you were young, impressionable and oh, so naive. At least you know better now. You're growing, maturing. You should be proud.

  6. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Yes! There is one Chinese gymnast that I swear looks like she's ten! And I'm all over Michael Phelps! Not like that, sheesh ;) - I'm on the edge of the couch watching him. I really want to see him get eight golds, and so far so good.

  7. Here's to fanny packs!
    You'd think the name alone would have discouraged that trend from catching on, but no!

    Makes me wonder what we're wearing now that will mortify us in 2018?

  8. Yeah, funny how they end up retiring at 18. A two year Olympic career is kind of hard to have repeat Gold medals...

    And for the record...I am behind the women's beach volleyball athletes 100%. Right behind them!!

  9. Anonymous12:26 PM

    See you Sunday!
    Yes, those Chinese girls looked WAY younger than American 16 year olds. WAY younger. But I love watching everything except the team sports. Big yawn for me there.

  10. I used to be a competitive gymnast (don't laugh, I was) and the sport is almost unrecognizable from when I was in it... BUT, the 16-year-old Olympics rule didn't exist back then. I was super, over-the-hill as a 17 year old at my peak, when Nadia had won the Olympics at 14 a few years earlier.

    Okay, I've just confessed my age.

    I'm normally glued to the TV during the Olympics but have seen little of it this year. Not even the gymnastics.

    You should read a book called "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes" or something like that... it's about female gymnasts and figure skaters and the horrible childhoods they have (and the health problems and eating disorders many develop later in life. I may well be a case in point, there...)