I used to think spectator sport was an oxymoron. Only a moron sits on his rump and watches other people hit a ball with a stick. I guess you could say sports were never “my thing.” That was before I discovered men’s gymnastics.
“Are you girls ready to go for a jog?” I ask my friends Leslie and Mona.
“Yeah, yeah,” Mona says, blowing me off with a wave. Leslie and Mona are sprawled on my couch, glued to the MIT men’s gymnastics ECAC Championships. On the coffee table sits a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, fudge topping, a jar of cherries and a can of whipped cream.
Mona’s of the school that it’s the size of the bowl that makes one fat, not its contents. Leslie goes along with the crowd and eats what’s put in front of her.
“Come on,” I say, peering through the window. “We’re wasting daylight.”
“Fifteen minutes,” Mona says.
She is, of course, talking sports time. Over the years, I’ve come to realize, that in sports time, when a guy tells you there are only 15 minutes left in the half or quarter, you might as well blow out the candles, take off the negligee and put on the flannel jobby.
Acknowledging the agony of defeat, I drop onto the couch and grab a spoon. We are supposed to be making peace with our imperfections by heading to the park for a sunset jog. I’ve got my sneakers on. I can feel the wind on my face and the mosquitoes nipping at my swollen ankles. I’m not saying we girls get wild at the park, or anything, but Leslie’s sneakers have a lightning bolt painted across the side, and it has absolutely nothing to do with stormy weather.
“We’re wasting our lives!” I say, throwing my head back and filling my mouth with whipped cream.
“Where’s your patriotism?” Mona asks, a cherry stem sticking out of her teeth.
“Don’t you think sportscasters take themselves just a little too seriously,” Leslie asks, dipping her finger in the fudge, “or am I all alone here?”
“Oh, my myyyyy,” Mona suddenly says as Tom Caldwell mounts the vault.
“That’s awesome!” I gasp, hand on my heart.
“He makes it look so easy,” Leslie adds.
“How, exactly, do you suppose they get those little outfits on?” Mona asks, pondering the possibilities.
“Slippery little devils, aren’t they?” I suggest.
“O.K., judges,” Leslie announces, “get ready to total up your scores.”
Suddenly, Mona shushes us.
Rubbing his hands together, handsome Brett Lazarus steps up to the high bar. And, while the hearts of those of us watching pound in our chests, calm seems to pass over the athlete.
Leslie, Mona and I, eyes wide, afraid to blink, hold our breath in anticipation.
Slowly, arms stretched, muscles bulging, his perfect body soars through the air with grace and poise.
“You know,” Leslie says, “originally, the Greeks competed in the nude.”
“Is that right?” Mona and I say in unison, pausing for a moment of reverent silence.
No one can say we aren’t cultured and don’t appreciate the art of good sport.