a little levity
On aging, the internet, the Swedes, the Olympics
By STEVE LANG
Most of my 2012 Olympic tracking ran directly through Dave Barry’s on-line coverage.
Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist specializing in the hilariously absurd. His Olympic coverage maintained a high level of absurdity otherwise missing from the global scene now that Congress has recessed.
Barry’s across-the-pond coverage, ranging from the badminton scandal to archery (with time out for brief references to the history of cricket) to representing San Marino in a pub Olympics rock-paper-scissors competition to dressing up like a cockroach on a museum tour provided vital information that inquiring minds may not, but should, want to know.
Little information, at least via U.S. media, was posted about Sweden’s Olympic results, but rest assured I kept tabs on my nation of ethnicity.
Of course, alongside every Internet story was a teaser ad or two coaxing the reader to investigate some enticing secret. While perusing Sweden’s Olympic medal count I read the secret of “how to dramatically comfort your joints.”
Apparently, a cooing, “there, there, it will feel better very soon” does not suffice, even with a theatrical delivery.
However, relief for aching joints is definitely of interest to persons a) of Swedish heritage; b) in the seventh decade of life; c) who spent too many winters shoveling snow; d) ran out of WD40. (Later, and further interrupting this commentary, I was asked the on-line survey question, “how likely are you to purchase Nitro Ultra dog food in the next three months?”Since there was no space for “about as likely as watching a wooden-legged monkey kick all the seeds from a dill pickle in record time” between “definitely will” and “definitely will not,” I declined to respond.)
Sweden, for the record, won eight medals, including one gold, through this past Thursday. Their honors came in sailing, handball, trapshooting, wrestling, equestrian and triathlon. The Swedes usually fare better in winter competition, with hockey, cross country and alpine skiing along with curling, a sport that involves sliding stones across the ice, then sweeping the ice ahead of the stones to cruise them to the ringed target area.
Curling appealed to me until the broom part. Housekeeping is a bummer. The sport, sometimes called “chess on ice,” also combines some of the elements of croquet and shuffleboard, and all that multi-tasking may be out of my league.
Since I am a Swede who neither ice skates nor skis, my move from the Upper Midwest to West Texas makes some sense. I may possess one trait common with my ethnicity; longevity, although it is not an Olympic event, neither in winter nor summer.
During the first weekend of August, my nearly 91-year-old-mother attended a summer gathering, and discounting any recycled fruitcake, was at best the third-oldest there.
Even the guest of honor – my aunt and the last surviving sibling on my dad’s side – was not the eldest present. Although Aunt Mae was enjoying her 100th summer and will officially hit the century mark in February 2013, her 104-year-old cousin journeyed from Chicago to extend her best wishes.
Cousin Stella used a walker, but noted, “I’m fine from the neck up.”
While the considerably younger Swedish athletes did not fare well medal-wise during these Olympic games, a trio of Stockholm residents did display cunning ingenuity prior to track and field events in Wembley Stadium.
Ola, Per and Sven, prepared to watch their countrymen and women participate, found themselves seated behind a girder, blocking their view of the action below.
Ola promptly stripped to his wife-beater T-shirt and boxer shorts and declared that he would find a better vantage point. He strode down the steps, walked into a stadium runway and found a junk pile. Rummaging through the debris, he extracted a long metal waterpipe.
He pulled the pipe free, walked to the edge of the track, and spoke to the guard:
“Jorgensson, Sweden, pole vault,” and was promptly waved through.
Per, spying Ola on the track, quickly imitated his friend’s actions. He dug in the pile, extracted a hubcap from a Morris Minor, tucked it under his arm and told the guard:
“Svendson, Sweden, discus,” and was granted passage.
By the time Sven reached the runway and the rubbish pile, pickings were slim. Finally, he unearthed a small roll of barbed wire. He unraveled the roll, re-wrapped it around his torso, staggered toward the field and announced his presence.
“Andersson, Sweden, fencing.”
Steve Lang has fenced with reality and found it a challenging foe. He is a transplanted Minnesotan who is often lost in time and stuck in space. He serves as director of News and Publications at Sul Ross State University. He is a native of Erdahl, MN, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Morris, and received a Master’s degree from Sul Ross. He has spent most of the last 45 years in various journalistic endeavors, including community newspapers in Minnesota and South Dakota and news bureaus at four universities in Minnesota, South Dakota and Texas. He came to Sul Ross in 1998 and lives in Alpine with his wife, Clarissa Kaiser, four cats and two dogs.
Story filed under: Big Bend Blog