Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 17, 2014

GROUNDS FOR INSANITY: Olympic feats of the everyday need their own events at Sochi

By RHONDA SCHROCK Columnist
Goshen News

---- — It’s been coming for weeks. Snow, drifting, piling, packing and plopping. Faster than one can shovel, it falls, burying mailboxes, cars and, in one reported case, a smallish, sluggish, decaffeinated mom who should’ve kept moving, but didn’t.

Over in Russia, it’s snowing, too. There, local shopkeepers report a terrific run on a regional staple, the shapka-ushanka. The English translation for this is “funny-looking hat with furry flaps flipped up or flopped down; strongly favored by stern Russian officials and frowny-faced KGB guys.”

According to Yuri Popvich, president of the FFHSA, or Furry Flap Hat Seller’s Association, “Eet has bin a gute year for sales,” and, “Vee are terribly happy.” This, from beneath his own flopped-down flaps and fetching chin strap.

Well, yip and yea. I’m glad that business is good, but I will admit that I’m jealous. While we’re here, shivering through a vortex, our athletes are in Sochi, skating, skiing, snowboarding and tearing it up on the slopes, speaking generally. And the Russians are there, rink side, in their hats.

It never gets old. Watching America’s sons and daughters competing against the world’s sons and daughters as angry parents duke it out in the stands? It can’t come often enough.

Here at home, we wait, breathless, for the judges’ scores, then erupt with booing and hissing or wild applause, depending on how it shakes out. After which we pass the cheese dip and grab another Coke. Being a fan is hard work, and you have to keep up your strength. That’s how it works on this end.

Here’s the hard truth, however. When you break it down, this is why most of us are only watching the Games. It’s the cheese dip.

In Sochi, they’re defying gravity, breaking sound barriers and twisting themselves into pretzels. All of which they can do because they have 0.5 percent body fat. That, plus their average age is 13. Or so it would seem.

And that’s why we will never be Olympians. Most of us are far past 13, and our percent body fat will never be confessed, not upon pain of death (thanks to that blasted cheese dip). All of this had me pondering the other day, which is when I took it to my friends.

“If you could add any event to the Olympics,” I said, “what would it be?”

“Jumping,” said one. “As in, jumping to conclusions. My husband’s a winner.”

I cringed. I hadn’t meant to stir up marital strife. On the sunny side, though, such jumping could be done in a sweat suit. There was, after all, that.

“Pedaling,” someone else suggested.

“Oh?” I thought. “Tour de France Olympic style?” I looked a little closer. Aha. “Back pedaling,” it said.

Well, now. That would open the Games right up. Suddenly, politicians could enter, age and body fat notwithstanding. It was no good cause for national pride, but we did have some who were awful quick to hit reverse when the finger test switched up.

How else could you explain the flip flops, backtracking and “180s” that happened in some campaigns? To Average Joe on his La-Z-Boy, it looked like such a flopper had resorted to the aforementioned finger test, a highly scientific method of determining public opinion with one wet finger and some wind.

It would be entertaining, all right, to watch the world’s leaders out pedal each other, but there had to be a place for the moms. That’s what I was thinking. For years, I’d begged IOC Chairman Mr. Rogge to add diaper changing to the schedule. Then a friend suggested one more. “How about grocery shopping with hungry children?”

I wouldn’t say the heavens opened up, lightning struck and angels sang. But I may have heard the national anthem of these United States playing for a small, American mother. Who, oddly enough, appeared to be highly caffeinated. “May,” OK? I said I may have heard that song.

There’s this, too. If directing traffic under great duress were an official sport, I could win that going away. On Sunday mornings, this skill shines bright, as well as on certain schooldays. The bus is coming or the choir’s tuning up, and there we are. Someone can’t find his socks, Someone Else has lost his Bible and two others are coming to blows.

If it’s a Sunday, there may or may not be a scowling Mister tooting the horn and revving the engine with a solid Sunday foot. Which, I note with relief, is sporting a clean Sunday sock. (Again, I did say “may.”)

The ability to separate a pair of wrestlers, strip socks onto the shoeless and find the Word that’s missing for the clueless, all in 3.2 seconds, is not nothing. It’s not. In fact, it could go a long way toward bringing the nation together, at least while the anthem plays, and stimulate our national pride.

“Could.” I said it could do that. Now, pass the cheese dip, please.