Monthly Archives: February 2018

Olympic Oddities

Along with with millions of other global spectators, I’ve been fixating on the Winter Olympics, averaging one blink per day.

No wonder. Guy skaters wear Vegas outfits and Norwegian curlers sport pajama pants stolen from Grandma.

Curlers actually win gold medals for wielding brooms. (Shouldn’t I receive one for vacuuming?)*

Competitors also careen on sleds at 90 miles per hour. How did insane sports like the bobsled, the skeleton and the luge ever come to be?

I discovered they all originated in the nineteenth-century spa town of St. Moritz, Switzerland, where, ironically, visitors hoped to improve their health. Caspar Badrutt, a hotel owner, pushed the new concept of winter resorts. However, complaints that young tourists were running down local fraus with sleds threatened the town’s reputation. A track built to keep them off the streets continues to serve Olympic hopefuls today.

That’s the official version. More likely, these sports were invented by snowed-in women whose men had been lying around the house. “Go sled to the store at 90 mph and pick up bread,” the wives ordered. “Better yet, do it face first.”

The husbands must have wanted to escape their women, too, because the idea caught on.

Perhaps cabin fever drove others to aerial skiing and snowboarding, when besieged parents told antsy offspring, “You need exercise. Go jump off a mountain.”

Even odder sports have been showcased during past Olympics. In the Paris Games of 1900, for example, champions took medals in firefighting, kite flying, delivery van racing, hot air ballooning and fencing with walking canes.

Club swinging, despite Neanderthal images that come to mind, often involved intricate choreography — and more trust of fellow club swingers than that required by ribbon-wielding rhythmic gymnasts today. Perhaps by 1932, when club swinging was eliminated, everyone had discovered new ways to get concussions.

Spectators need not fear that the Olympics will suffer from future lack of weirdness. The Summer Olympics include the equestrian sport of dressage. I assumed the horses wore clothes, a modesty trend not reflected throughout the Olympics. Authorities didn’t confirm this, but said the animals do perform moves “Dancing with the Stars” competitors would envy.

It’s not enough that perfect-bodied athletes flood my TV screen? No, a horse with two left feet outdoes me on the dance floor.

Worse yet, pole dancing, or “pole fitness” is now considered an Olympic sport — and no, I’m not making this up. Children will be told to turn off the TV and go jump off a mountain. Spouses will be sent on sleds at 90 mph to pick up bread.

Me? I cast my vote for more dressage.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Olympic sport keeps you glued to the TV?

*My friend, Ruth, awarded me this gold in the Vacuuming Olympics!

 

 

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: the Mother–Er, Father–of Our Country

O my God, the first time I saw George Washington’s portrait in my first-grade classroom, I mistook him for Martha. And why did he chop down a tree that produced yummy cherries? That he told his dad was admirable, but not too bright!

Subsequent presidents also have strained my brain, yet, this Presidents’ Day, I appreciate their service. But OMG, I’m grateful that ultimately, You are in charge!

Something Lost in the Love Translation?

Hubby and I attended the prom in 1971.

Years ago, when the tall boy in my high school biology class called, I didn’t understand him at all.

Flattered, I small-talked for five minutes before realizing he hadn’t said a word. I left strategic moments for comments.

Silence.

I babbled about our class’s fruit-fly genetic experiments. My subjects’ Great Escape. The school cafeteria’s subsequent fumigation —

“Well, goodbye.”

Click.

Maybe he wasn’t the scientific type, after all.

Maybe he’d decided I wasn’t his type.

However, he soon called again.

This time, my monologue focused on literature. My English teacher didn’t understand my paper’s crucial insights touting fried chicken’s symbolism throughout Southern literature.

I continued my learned discourse —

“Well, good-bye.”

Click.

 Did this sadist call girls just to hang up on them?

Nevertheless, I had seen a glimmer of this shy guy’s meaning: I like you. Do you like me?

However, I didn’t realize he disliked fried chicken until after our wedding, four years later. I cooked my mom’s special recipe.

He refused it.

This time, he was the one attempting to break lo-o-ong silences. And translate touch-me-and-you-die assurances that I was fine. Fine.

 Hubby seemed aghast that he’d married an alien whose language he’d never understand.

Ditto.

Nevertheless, we’d vowed to love each other.

Against impossible odds, we determined to learn each other’s language.

Hubby now understood that I, like all women, said “fine” only when I meant the opposite. We then grappled with another mysterious word: we. Only two letters, it appeared cozy — until used thusly:

He: Sure, we can feed 237 runners.

She: Yes, we will dig the new church basement.

Eventually, Hubby and I understood that if we valued our lives, we would use accurate pronouns.

Throughout the year, unequal estimates of garage wall/car distances and checkbook balances also challenged our powers of translation. But after three decades of marriage, we finally mastered each other’s languages … until our empty-nest purchase: a tandem bicycle.

Hubby’s “Ma-a-an!” didn’t soften the effects of potholes on my, er, anatomy.

My “Aaaaahhh!” meant little to him, riding in front. Fortunately, the pursuing Dobermans ate only one of my ankles.

The tandem initiated a repeat of Marriage Translation 101.

Hey, everyone needs an occasional refresher course.

And today?

If Hubby’s pondering deep theological, medical, or I.U. basketball issues, a visual reminder, such as a cartwheel, must accompany my “Dinner’s ready.”

I assume he’ll automatically finish my half-sentences, e.g., “Last month’s letter from the IRS …”

After 43 years of marriage, he should read my mind, right?

Fortunately, we aliens rarely need a translator now. Love language hasn’t taken light years to learn, after all.

Only a lifetime.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite mistranslation story?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: New Grandson!

O my God, thank You for an incredible weekend — meeting brand-new grandson Theo, doing the Hokey Pokey with big brother Jonah, and playing with him in the snow! Monday morning, with its to-do list, isn’t nearly as much fun. Yet, OMG, I’m still smiling.

                                     

Pillow Power

They soften our woes, absorb frustrations without complaint and support us.

Our mothers?

No, our pillows.

I could happily sleep with a dozen, but my spouse considers extras speed bumps in the night. So I content myself with daytime heaps of decorative pillows on our bed.

When Hubby makes the bed, he sometimes forgets the universe will implode with the green pillow in the middle rather than the white.

Fear not. I continue to rescue the cosmos.

I also help him regarding sofa cushions. Our geometric pillow must always be matched with the sage green cushion. Never the brick red.

No one should desecrate them with actual use. Both Hubby and grand-dog must understand that the aged, ameba-shaped cushion, stashed under a throw, is reserved for naps. And naps are permitted only when all 30 other pillows can be stacked on a spare sofa.

They are called toss cushions. But no throwing them on the floor!

“OC, aren’t you?” chorus a hundred voices.

The fact I hear voices doesn’t negate my point, which is … uh, yes, pillow power.

We must respect a product that upsets an entire continent. Australian health alerts demand that pillows be replaced every two years or frozen to kill dust mites. One manufacturer even conducted a free pillow exchange.

Pillows can exert power in positive ways, e.g., the OSTRICHPILLOW®. The owner inserts his head into a soft, closed tube, resting the padded “microenvironment” on his desk. Supposedly, a 20-minute nap using the OSTRICHPILLOW® increases work productivity by 37 percent.

Any nap might accomplish this. Still, who am I to deny the combined force of capitalism and catnap?

However, pillows can cause complications. Sleepers lose hours of rest, constantly awakening to refresh their pillows. For only $100, a sufferer can buy one filled with cool gel that reshapes itself. He should, however, take care not to drop it on his toe, as it weighs 14 pounds.

Or, for only $400, one can purchase an intelliPillow. Why so expensive? Because its name starts with a lowercase letter, with a capital in the middle. It also uses a complex air compressor for automatic adjustment.

Ultimate power, however, is evidenced in the classic pillow fight. Taking this ancient concept to a higher level, devotees use pillows shaped like scimitars, battle axes, and hand grenades.

Airline cushions sufficed, however, for passengers on one economy flight who took out lack-of-leg-room frustrations in a mass pillow fight. Hostilities resolved, they celebrated one flight attendant’s deadeye aim with loud applause.

Perhaps if world leaders engaged in a day-long pillow fight, peace might be a step closer.

I’m not the only one who likes lots of pillows!

A powerful idea.

As long as they don’t throw my sofa cushions.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you picky about your pillows?