This weekend, I heard some people were watching regular television. For a brief duration, I was one of them. (There were Escape to the Country and Ghost Hunters marathons on TV, and I honoured them appropriately by watching both.) (Also, I finished The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because I needed to remember that colour still exists in this, the longest winter of our lives.) But for the most part, it was you and me and the Winter Olympic games, broadcast at an hour that necessitated us all staying in on a Saturday night where we could revel in commentary from each other and only each other because we — those of us not at the Olympics — are all that matters.
So I write this as someone who is now knee-deep into watching super-humans compete on snowy and icy terrains, and has a lot to say about it. Here is everything I’ve thought about the Olympic games so far, with room left for all of you to add your own. Because if the Olympics have taught me anything, it’s that we’re all in this together. And by “this” I mean “the dark abyss that is our realization that we don’t have a chance in participating in the Olympics ourselves.” And “together” I mean “we happen to be on Twitter at roughly the same time.” Cue the theme.
“I could do that, I just haven’t been asked.”
Watching the Olympics relies entirely on delusion. It is up to us, as viewers, to tell ourselves and anyone listening that had somebody asked us to ice dance, we’d have eclipsed Virtue and Moir, and likely on our first try. “Have they even done this before?” the commentators would ask as we came up with lifts and choreography on the spot. “No,” we would respond, pausing briefly from executing the Pomchenko, despite not even figure skating with a partner.
[Intense criticism about anything]
I know nothing about most sports, but that will never stop me from criticizing every aspect of an athlete’s performance. I will blame their skis, their coat, the weather, the wind, the crowds, the brief moment of uncertainty I swear flashed across a snowboarder’s face. “Had he just passed the Swede when he had the chance, the medal would’ve been in the bag,” is something I have said during the cross-country event, not knowing who I’m even referring to. But it doesn’t matter. Because I’m at home, and I’ve decided to be an expert, and repeated viewings of I, Tonya have taught me just to say what I think.
[Unnecessary explanation that somehow ties back to your own experiences]
In grade 11, I joined the snowboarding club at school which was a mistake for two reasons: 1) I had never snowboarded before, and 2) I went wearing a Gap peacoat and borrowed snow pants. A guy named Ian tried to teach me how to slide down the bunny hill without passing away, and after three hours I managed to make it down the hill twice. I also hurt my knee (permanently, because I don’t mess around) by falling on it repeatedly because no one told me how to fall down “properly.”
Thus, everything Olympics-oriented relates to this moment. Everything during the Olympics is about you. You “get” bobsledding because when your friends and you piled onto a sled in 1994, you almost hit a tree. I “get” skiing because in grade seven I went on a school trip that necessitated skiing and I ended up getting the flu the next day. It is about us. Everything is about us. We could’ve all been Olympians, we’re just better at not being Olympians.
“I’d skate to [X] song”
Every person wants to know what you’d choreograph a figure skating or ice dancing routine to. Every person on this planet. And those same people? They want to hear how bad you think the music of every other skater is. It’s the theme from Batman a la Tonya Harding 1991 or nothing at all, thank you very much.
“I wouldn’t wear that”
This applies to newscasters, audience members, and athletes. It doesn’t matter why you wouldn’t wear it, it’s simply important that the world knows what your aesthetic tastes are.
“I could do that, I just didn’t want to”
This is the most brilliant lie that works only if you stand by it. You sit there, watching a snowboarder launch themselves into the sky and spin multiple times before casually dropping back down to the earth. And that’s when you say, “I could’ve done that, I just didn’t want to.” And you believe it. You convince yourself so quickly that you begin to convince everybody too. They laugh, but watch your face, which is completely serious. “Shit,” they think. “Maybe she’s right. Maybe she really could’ve done that and something happened.”
You catch their eye. You nod knowingly, failing to smile. Something did happen. Little did they know how much really did. Because the thing that happened was that you decided you didn’t want to. You didn’t even want to try. But that’s information that exists only between you and whatever higher power you believe in. Bless us everyone.