The Olympics have got me. Oh, the Olympics have got me bad.
First I got insta-hooked on cycling, following the Summer Games road races for hours to their thrilling conclusions. I don’t even like cycling. And now look at the position I’m suddenly in: I know what a peloton is and I have no absolutely idea what to do with this information.
Then, last night, it was women’s gymnastics. I don’t care for gymnastics. But the spectacle caught my attention because it seemed just like Mean Girls but without the non-mean girl. I flipped over to NBC expecting to stick around for a few seconds. I stayed for a couple hours, through all the jumps and the spazzing out and the flippity-flops and the bitchy looks and super-psycho parents and the weird network promo that made the U.S. women look like a crack team of crime-solving strippers. But mostly I stayed for the hugs between members of the American squad, which were the fakest hugs in the history of hugs, and the history of fakery, and the history of history. At one juncture, we were all witness to a terrible misstep when one of the U.S. girls accidentally came into physical contact with her teammate as she “hugged” her. There were no survivors.
As the conclusion of the gymnasticizing approached (that may not be the technical term for it) – as the gymnasts prepared to learn which two of five Americans would advance to the all-round final – the night’s drama generated so many questions: How many of the five girls would cry? After all five girls cried, who would cry again so they could be judged to have cried two-tenths better than their teammates? What is the mandatory deduction for setting your floor routine to music from Phantom of the Opera?
Today it was Equestrian and something called “Individual Eventing,” in which horses traveled through a cross-country course, jumping and leaping over what appeared to be leftover props from the Lord of the Rings movies. Also, there were humans on their backs or whatever.
I still don’t know exactly how it happened. I flipped over to OLN (network slogan: We do too exist!) after the CTV people showed a quick bit of video in which a rider fell off her horse, and the horse galloped off into the distance. Horse on the loose! You just don’t pass up that kind of once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN! The horse could flee the Olympic venue, head to the city and start a new life as a chimney sweep! Or it could get caught! (It got caught.)
But long after that horse got caught, I was still watching horses jump over shrubbery and run down hills and splash through water when they weren’t launching their riders into the air and onto the ground. Canadians, in particular, had this happen to them a lot. Three of our four riders were thrown off. This seemed to have a negative impact on the team’s chances at a medal. Still, I kept watching. The analyst lady on the horse jumping coverage had a warm, kind voice that made me feel like she should be baking me a pie, but that’s not really reason enough to stay, is it?
I don’t care about horses. But I cared about horses. This is when I knew I had a problem. I immediately emailed my family, telling them I would position the living room furniture in a circle to ease preparations for my intervention. Oh, and I told them to please bring coffee when they come – the show jumping event begins at 5:30 a.m. ET tomorrow.