The Games Begin and It’s Not About Food Deprivation

Let the games begin or so we thought. I’m sorry London, but the opening night’s ceremony was disjointed, overly long and kinda creepy. The opening film was much like the beginning clip in the movies when you are optically strapped in a roller coaster and told where the waste receptacles are located.  Kenneth Branagh strutting about surrounded by six or seven Abraham Lincolns doing a very strange version of the cabbage patch dance was just plain odd. It took forever for those dang smoke stacks to rise and what was with the giant baby?

Each host country has its own issues with the ceremonies. Canada is still living down its giant beavers and Atlanta hangs its head over that embarrassing walking blue sperm, but last night? As one of Bashert friend’s said, one needed a PhD in British history to understand what was going on.

We didn’t make it to the torch lighting ceremony or to hear Sir Paul sing. With all the commercial interruptions made by NBC, what was probably two hours in person was stretched to something like four over here. The announcers kept making the comment that the march of athletes was moving at a record pace; sure couldn’t tell it as a home viewer in the USA. Two countries, three commercials, three countries, four commercials…

It wasn’t all bad. The bit with the Queen was cute. Who knew she had such a sense of humor to play along in public? Our biggest attention grabber came from Rowan Atkinson. Call us lowbrow, but his slapstick was funny. I will never look at “Chariot of Fire” in the same light again. The firework rings were pretty cool too.

NBC’s coverage hasn’t improved greatly. I mean, we are five hours behind the action, why in the world are they stuffing the program with inane material? Ryan Seacrest reviewing the number of tweets the Queen received was by far one of the most most frustrating pieces I’ve seen in a long time. I understand having to pay for the programming, but really? Seacrest? Can we vote him off?

What the next two weeks, plus will bring no one knows? Phelps defeated! USA number one in qualifying for gymnastics? China and Australia winning gold medals in swimming? So many possibilities, so much talent. Good luck, good health and good sportsmanship to all the contestants. Make the Olympic Gods proud! Maybe they will be pleased enough to send down a lightning bolt to take out Seacrest.

Roller Derby Mama

Yoda has been invited to a roller skate birthday party.  Bashert has bravely stepped up to attend with.  I don’t do roller skates anymore.  She, however can be a glutton for punishment.

Now, once upon a time, roller skating meant family time.

On Saturday’s mornings, a four year old Nenè and I would join my sister Raquel and her family at one of the local skating rinks.  The Starlight offered three hours dedicated to kids under the age of 10 and their parents for around $1.50 a head plus skate rentals.

Imagine that – a good and cheap way to have fun with your family.

The routine was basically the same every Saturday.  We’d go in, the elders of us would rent our boots and hit the hardwood rink ready for about a half hour of precarious balancing.

In Nenè’s case, I buckled on her Fisher-Price “learn to skate” skates and she would walk around the rink – never was much of a risk taker in those days, Nenè.

We would all skate to the fantastic urban beat of “Ice, Ice, Baby” and “Ghostbusters”.  Those of us feeling brave enough would mime out the letters to “YMCA”, while still rolling.

After the half hour of free skate, the games would begin.

I always enjoyed the Hokey-Pokey, except for the turning about.  Turning about makes me motion sick, so I would end up doing some strange version of jazz hands while remaining in place.

They used to give out Tootsie Rolls at the end of that segment, but the floor ended up too gunky, so that had to end.  Too bad, I like Tootsie Rolls.

The next activity arranged was usually some sort of race.

The race that became my downfall, figuratively and literally was Red Light/Green Light.

For those of you who may not be familiar with this particular game, it goes as such;

The Moderator instructs everyone to line up at the start.  The Moderator then turns their back to the assembled racers and yells “Green light!” at which time all the participants run or in our case skate, like mad demons to get as far as they can before the Moderator turns and yells, “Red light!”  Anyone caught moving after the red light call is put out of the game.  First one across the finish line wins.

At the Starlight, winning usually meant a token for food or free skate rentals.  Stuff that brought out the competitive spirit of all those kids and parents.

So there we were, all lined up and ready for fierce competition – my sister Raquel, her husband M’pudi, daughter Noël, son Epic, me and Nenè.

Recall that Nenè is wearing skates that have stops on the wheels that prevent them from free movement.  We would not be in competition for first place.

“Green light!”  And we’re off.  “Red light!” We stop.  “Green light!” Another few feet for Nenè and me – Raquel has zoomed to the front of the pack.

“Red light!”  I positioned to brake and felt my knee with the torn cartilage start to give. As soon as I shifted my weight (which wasn’t so considerable back then) to relieve the knee, the world went black and down to the floor I sank.

I vaguely remember trying to avoid crushing Nenè as I came down.

Nenè began to cry saying she hurt her elbow.  My ability to speak was hanging in the air with the little bursts of light circling my head.  I eventually managed to squeak out a feeble, “Are you okay?”

It took the field of play a moment or two to realize that a player was down for the count.  Raquel often reminds me that she was about to cross the finish line first when I my accident called a halt to the game afoot.  She still hasn’t forgiven me totally.

M’pudi helped get me up off the floor and rolled me over to the side lines.  There I removed my skating boot and witnessed a rather large egg size swelling on the outside of my right ankle.

It was agreed that I should go to the emergency room and have it checked out even after a physician who was there with his kid looked at it and said it was most likely just badly sprained.

Yeah, badly sprained doesn’t make you want to throw up when you put the least little pressure on it.

M’pudi and Raquel loaded me into the car and M’pudi took me to the emergency room while Raquel took the kids on home.

Long story short?  Four hours later I was in surgery having two screws placed in my broken ankle and spending the night in the hospital, while my mother packed her bags and began her drive down from Virginia to come help me for two weeks.

About six years down the road, I got back on skates just to prove a point – what and why I’m not sure, but I did it.

Nenè was skating on her own and Bashert was with us.  That may have been the night that Bashert broke her coccyx, trying to avoid slamming into a small child.

Nope, I don’t do roller skates anymore.

Rules of Engagement – Don’t Bleed on the Rug

A friend posted on FB some joke definitions of what her Mom taught her. (Thanks, Michigan Blue)

What my Mom taught me:
Religion – “You better pray that comes out of the carpet”
Logic – “Because I said so, that’s why”
Irony – “Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about”
Wisdom – “When you get to my age you’ll understand”
Justice – “One day you’ll have kids, I hope they turn out just like you!!”

Moms or any parental unit for that matter, really don’t realize what power they have over their children or how literal those same kids can be.

Bashert tells the story of the time their father told her sister to “stand right there” in the store.  He moved on to the next aisle and she didn’t.  It took him several aisles to realize that she hadn’t moved with him – she stood ‘right there’.

It got me thinking about the one edict that rang loud and clear through our household:

Don’t Bleed On the Rug

I’m not really sure where this stemmed from initially.  I have visions of dastardly deeds being performed and having to remain spotlessly clean so as to not leave any trace for the CSI team to discover.

Fortunately though, I don’t think my family is that full of intrigue.

I do know that it was a rule that I took hard and fast.  I know because I was tested.

Let us return to the time my family resided in Phoenix, Arizona.  If memory serves me right – and that’s a challenge – I was about nine at the time.

Once again, most of the kids in the neighborhood were outside playing.  We lived on a cul-de-sac and as long as we stayed inside that confine we were all good to go without much direct parental oversee.

This promoted independence and stupidity.

There were only two front yards we could really play on in the cul-de-sac, ours and the Kam’s.  Everyone else either had rock yards or the parents didn’t want their grass (a precious commodity in the desert) destroyed.

So, there we all were in the Kam’s front yard doing our thing.  Chasing each other around, playing catch and popping a rake.

Popping a rake?

Ah, a game of reflex and skill that only experienced gardeners and unwise children undertake.

You see it involves placing the rake on the ground with the tines facing upward at one’s feet.  One then stomps on the tines with just the right angle causing the rake handle to pop upward.   The object is to catch the handle before it whacks you in the face.

Keith Kam (all the Kam children had K names: Keith, Kathy, Karen & Kim – go figure, maybe it saved on monogramming) was deep in the game with a steady series of successful pops.  I, on the other hand, was only marginally aware of this when I heard my mother call for us to come to supper.

Dutiful child that I was, I, ahem, ‘immediately’ dropped whatever I was doing and headed home.

As I made my way, I crossed in front of Keith’s field of play.  At the exact moment he popped the rake, I stepped into the strike zone.  The handle came up with a force, I’m sure I could figure out if I had stayed in my summer Physics course.

It struck a glancing, but firm blow right across my kisser.

Blood began to flow – steadily.

I ran the rest of the way home hands cupped under my bottom lip.  By the time I reached the garage entrance to the house I had a handful of blood collected.

I stood at the door calling out for Mom as best I could with the injured lip.  She replied for me to come in.  I yelled back that I couldn’t.

The shock on her face was quite vivid as she came around the corner to see what could possibly prevent me from entering the house. It didn’t take much to realize that I was holding fast to the number one house rule.

She dragged me into the house and the little bathroom off the garage.  I think she may have laughed a bit.

Forty years, oops, forty-one years later my lip still has a scar, but my pride stands tall.

Nary a drop of blood was spilled on that rug.

Are you ready for some futball? I’m not.

I’m not much on soccer.

Last time I played was in sixth grade.  I was the goalie, but never understood why I couldn’t come out of my little box. I once ran the ball all the way down the field only to find the coach and all my team mates standing back with mouths agape. Yeah, my soccer career didn’t last long.

We tried putting our son in the YMCA league, but that didn’t work out either.  We spent the first four years of his life telling him to share and then told him he needed to get the ball away.  Very confusing.  He didn’t like staying in the little box either.

I must admit I caught the fever in 1999 when the USA women’s team marched to the World Cup finals.  My partner and I watched the match with two friends.  I think we scared them with our, shall we say, exuberant couch coaching and celebrations.

But there’s really not been much since then.

It’s been with dispassionate interest that I’ve been watching my friends’ exchanges on Facebook about this year’s World Cup.  I wasn’t sure if I was up to the same fever pitch as 12 years ago.  Outside of the US, I was clueless as to who was playing.

But there was something mentioned about a Wombat, Han Solo and a singing coach, so I my curiosity got the better of me when my partner suggested watching the match and I said why not?

We ordered some delivery chinese food, took up our places in front of the couch and readied ourselves for the game.

Ah, they were playing the Japanese team. It turned out to be Abby Wombach and Hope Solo.  It was far more interesting the other way.  Apparently, the coach does sing though.

We were all very enthusiastic in the beginning.  Then slowly we sort of drifted away.  Our son went back to his game of Bejeweled®, my partner worked on her writing and I dozed on the couch.

Its not that it wasn’t an exciting match.  It was filled with skill and speed.  A nail biter all the way to the last penalty kick.  And up to a certain point I was all in the “Go USA” zone.

Its just that it was, well – soccer.

I must apologize up front to many of my friends, some of whom are die hard fans and others actual players. Soccer is just doesn’t run in my blood.

To meet me in person, one might think I was in to all kinds of sports, at least you would have before my last few years of stress eating and the resultant non-muscle bulk up and ever encroaching grey hair.  But no, not a sports nut.

I’m more the High Holiday sort of sports fan.  I watch maybe a game or two of the World Series and the Super Bowl, but that’s about it.  I do enjoy a good Iron Man competition though.  How many of those stones could you lift?

Anyway, back to soccer or rather my disinterest in soccer.

Soccer is a game of speed, skill and courage.  I couldn’t manage a game now if my life depended on it.  Going upstairs in a hurry leave me breathless these days. I am in awe of those who can play.  It’s a stamina that is most amazing.

In other countries, soccer is the impetus of riots, something over here usually reserved for political rallies and rock concerts.  Me, I can’t see rioting over much anything except maybe the argument over the correct pronunciation of the word pecan or if there should be sugar in your iced tea.

Soccer just doesn’t float my boat that way.  All that running about, butting the ball with your head – just looks like an invitation for a major headache and broken bones. And what’s with only one break?

No, soccer is definitely not in my soul.

More power to you soccer people.

Just don’t ask for my card.