Sunday, February 16, 2014

189. Athletes

C.W. is fascinated by the Olympics. He stays glued to the tube watching them, except when “Big Bang” theory runs. (Nothing gets between him and Penny).

Timed events intrigue him. “Your species surely places a lot of importance on who skis down a hill a portion of a second faster than anyone else.”

“That’s where true honor resides,” I said. “in that blessed millisecond.”

“You forget how many light-years I traveled to get here,” he said. “So a portion of a second is lost on me.”

“It’s all relative,” I said.

He looked to see if I was making fun of him. “Your wife says that sometimes she thinks you are an idiot,” he said.

“Besides,” I said. "Some competitions aren’t based on timing. They are judged.”

“That’s another thing,” he said. “How does one judge another person’s ability to play on a snowboard?”

He had me there.

He said. “How did these so-called ‘games’ start, and when?”

“They started in ancient Greece, a few hundred years before the Common Era,” I said. “It is my understanding that the Greeks intended them to show the physical qualities and evolution of the performances accomplished by young people. They also encouraged good relations between the cities of Greece.”

“Ancient Greece?”

“Ancient Greece.”

“They had snowboards?”

“Uh no,” I said. “Olympic officials add new types of competition from time to time.”

“They can do that?”


“So, maybe banjo playing is on the horizon?”

“Perhaps,” I said. “But not likely.”

“So the Greeks didn’t shoot rifles as an Olympic sport?”

“Uh, no.”

“What did they do?”

“Oh,” I said. “Manly things like wrestling and boxing.”

“Wrestling?” he said. “Did they wear those stupid getups like they wear now?”

“No,” I said. “they had a different kind of wrestling. It was done in the nude, I think.”

His head snapped around. “The nude? Men and women wrestled in the nude?”

“Just men,” I said. “Women weren’t allowed to participate.”

He pondered this. “Strange,” he said. “I guess boxing was manlier. Probably a little bloody too.”

“Oddly, no,” I said. I once read where Melankomas of Caria, crowned Olympic boxing champion in 49 B.C., went down in history for the way in which he fought. His movements were light, simple and fascinating. He would defeat his opponents without ever being hit himself, or ever dealing a blow.”

“You are confusing me,” He said. “This doesn’t sound like the sort of entertainment that Joe Half-dozen Carton would enjoy.”

“Joe Six-Pack would not want to watch naked men wrestling,” I said. Then I thought. “Or would he? Let me think about that.”

If I can only determine how your species
got from here to "Ski-and-Shoot" competition,
I will have made some progress in figuring
you out. - C.W.
“So did the old Greeks give the winners a big reward?”

“No,” I said. “they tied ribbons around their brows, placed garlands of flowers on their heads, and had them run around stadium”

“Still naked?”

I shrugged. “One can only imagine.”

He was quiet for a moment. “That explains a lot,” he said, slumping in his chair. Then he bolted upright. “Got to go,” he said as he jumped up. “Figure skating is about to start.”

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