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Who knew sword fights could be so heart-rending?

Thu., Aug. 14, 2008

I’ve been celebrating these final glorious days of summer by sitting on my couch watching the Beijing Olympics.

What’s wrong with me?

I should be out enjoying real life. Like watching the Parks Department kill the herpes-infected fish at the Manito Park koi pond, for example.

I don’t know why they have to murder the koi. Can’t they just give them Valtrex like that infected dude on the TV commercial?

Or I could take a drive to Idaho and check out the 130,000-gallon spill of raw sewage at Poo Falls.

But no. I can’t move. I’m too busy watching water polo and tennis and baseball and soccer and gymnastics and synchronized diving …

On Wednesday I watched this Hungarian weight lifter blow out his right elbow during a lift. It was so sickening I could barely watch the slow-motion replays from several different angles.

Remember that “Just Do It” Nike slogan?

My motto is “Just View It.”

I don’t get it. During past Olympics I barely bothered tuning in.

Now I’m seeing the face of Michael Phelps in my sleep.

I find myself humming the Olympics anthem during those times when I must rush away from the TV to make a hurried trip to the bathroom.

“Tah. Tah. Ta-tah tah …

“FLUUUSH!!!”

The other night I actually got up at 2 a.m. and padded downstairs to watch – guess what – more Olympics.

The sad thing is I’m not the only compulsive Olympiac. The ratings for NBC’s coverage are through the roof, the highest since Atlanta, and that Olympics had a bombing.

It makes me think something sinister is afoot.

Could it be that the high price of gas was orchestrated by Exxon and NBC network execs to keep the viewing public housebound this summer?

And as long as we’re talking conspiracies, I don’t think it was accidental that the Olympics just happened to coincide with the big Diet Coke and Mike and Ike sale at Safeway.

The embarrassing thing is that I don’t even care what event I’m watching.

The other day, for example, I got all caught up in women’s fencing.

What do I know about fencing? Less than nothing.

My idea of a sword fight is that scene in “The Princess Bride.”

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Olympic fencers are about as swashbuckling as Homer Simpson. The combatants wear padded beekeeper suits. Then they lunge at each other so fast that you can’t see who stuck whom.

Even so, I still got teary-eyed when what’s-her-name from Oregon won.

Fortunately, there are some Olympic events I do understand.

Women’s beach volleyball, for example.

Sculpted women in bikinis jumping around in the sand – what’s not to like?

But women’s beach volleyball isn’t just about the babes.

It has high drama. Like when the “designated bug guy” has to run out with a net and scoop up these huge and creepy insects that crawl onto the sand.

There has been some added stress to my Olympics watching.

It comes from my lovely wife, Sherry, not sharing my addiction.

Even worse, she doesn’t appreciate the uncertainty of sports. Not knowing the outcome makes her tense.

So Sherry makes use of the time difference in China, which is something like, oh, three or four days.

She uses the Internet to learn the results of, say, the latest Phelps swimming race before it airs on tape-delayed American television.

I, however, adhere to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule of sports watching. I don’t care if it’s the 1974 World Series. If I don’t know who won and it’s on TV, please, don’t tell me.

Sherry has created her own Olympic event of dropping little clues such as …

“I think you’re going to be happy with Phelps this time.”

Or, “That swimmer’s probably going to regret wearing those big earrings. They just might slow her down because of the drag.”

This invariably causes me to scream like a little girl while Sherry laughs and laughs.

Thirty-five years of marriage and still amusing each other.

Somebody oughta give us a gold medal.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.


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