Monday, August 23, 2004

Welcome to East Ditch

Eli 3.0 was sitting with us on the couch last night, watching the Olympics. Suddenly, he pulls down his underpants and starts fiddling with his unit. I asked him why he was adjusting his package, and he said "My penis is stiff and it bothers me."

Man, if I had a dollar for every time I've said that...

We've started watching the Olympics, even though I swore that I wasn't going to this time. American television coverage, at least on NBC, focuses almost exclusively on American athletes, particularly winning American athletes. The footage is delayed, pre-packaged, and sanitized.

That's not for me. I'm always rooting for the guy from the breakaway republic of East Ditch, who was abandoned at birth and adopted by a family of doughnut makers. They were so poor that all he ate were holes until he was ten, and he ran twenty miles a day in the mountain to service his doughnut route.

That's no typo. His country was so small that they only had one.

When he was twelve, he used some webbing from his hammock bed and strung it on a rudimentary racket that he carved from an elephant's thigh bone. Some kids found a carburetor near the toxic waste pits behind the village school, and he used it as a shuttlecock. Now he's the eighty-fifth ranked badminton player in the world and his country's only Olympic representative. Every person in East Ditch is watching his matches live at 3 a.m. on the 13" black and white t.v. that constitutes the entire entertainment infrastructure of his country.

That's my guy.

To see him on the American Olympic coverage, you have to wade through program listings for a dozen sub-channels that list about fifteen different events in a five-hour block. If you're very lucky, after scanning the schedules for six hours you'll find out that your hero is in the badminton preliminaries at 4 a.m. last Tuesday on The Spice Channel.

We've also developed a bad case of expert-itis. This is the disease you get when you watch a sport for fifteen minutes and suddenly know everything about it. After watching platform diving for fifteen minutes last night, we sounded like this:
"She over-rotated that Inward Double Snack Basket," I said.
"I think Turkey Lurkey of The Alleged Republic is going to pass her after that dive," Gloria said.
"If she doesn't really nail that Triple Pike Burrito Grande in the last round, she might not even make the finals."
"My penis is stiff and it bothers me," Eli 3.0 says.

Just a quiet night at home.

Platform diving is an excellent choice for the instant expert because there appear to be only two rules when it comes to scoring:
1. Don't hit your head on the platform.
2. Don't splash.
There's a lot of technical talk about 'Immelman loops' and 'rich or lean mixtures,' but I was able to judge every dive within half a point just by looking for head wounds and low entry splash.

If there are any International Olympic Committee members reading this column, feel free to contact me if any platform diving judges are injured by falling contestants. Just send me a blazer and a hat and I'll be there as soon as I can.

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