I LOVE the Olympics. Full stop.
Well, not full stop. One of my lasting regrets about my youth is that my parents failed to harness my athletic abilities and orient me towards Olympic glory. Every time I mention this regret to Tom, he asks—in a tone of voice that I find to be unnecessarily aggrieved and put-upon—which sport I believe I could have won.
Which sport couldn’t I have medaled in, is a better question. There are really so many I could have excelled at. Fencing, for starters. I have strong thighs and a deep appreciation for white clothing. Also, I imagine I would look really good whipping off my face mask at the end of a point and shaking out my sweaty tresses. Or rowing. Certainly no one in my immediate family could fail to imagine me as a coxswain, yelling out bossy commands from a seated position. I do that everyday, from my couch. Table tennis: natch. I have very quick reflexes, and I’m also very Asian.
Every time I think of myself playing these sports and collecting my medal, it makes me appreciate the efforts of these Olympians all the more. Because it clearly takes a little more than parental direction to get you on that podium. And there are such hurdles along the way. Fencing seemed so glamorous until I found out fencers have one thigh that is much larger than the other—how would I fit into my skinny jeans? And I already have tailbone issues that would likely be exacerbated by sitting in a wooden rowboat for hours on end. As for table tennis, I started playing the regular kind of tennis recently and have discovered that I have low to non-existent depth perception, which means that when I go to hit the ball, I am consistently surprised to find it dropping roughly six feet in front of my racket. Lack of depth perception seems like a severe handicap for a sport that requires you to hit balls that are flying at your face while lunging towards a table with very sharp corners. Then again, table tennis players wear polo shirts, and I look like a man in polo shirts. Not looking like a man is small consolation for an Olympic medal, but it’s something.
My friend Maria actually went to the Olympics for diving, and since I found that out, I have been sizing her up from afar. Because she has the stuff. You can tell. The mental toughness, the determination. And I like to think that I have it too, but I know I don’t. If I get too hot in yoga, I’m apt to bust out corpse pose 20 minutes early and call it a day. When running, I go only until my watch says that exactly 30:00 minutes have passed, at which point I come to an abrupt stop, even if my legs are mid-stride. At work, I take the elevator to the 4th floor. From the 5th floor.
So maybe my parents didn’t get in the way of inevitable Olympic glory after all. But that doesn’t mean I can’t keep reminding Tom every four years that he could have been married to one of the all-time greats.