I was watching TV and saw a commercial for the upcoming Olympics. It triggered a memory I thought I should share with the world at large.
The year? 1988.
My age? 5
Season: Dead of winter. In Alberta, Canada. AKA : Really goddamn cold.
Location: Some highway in the middle of nowhere.
Scenario: It was just before the 1988 Olympics, held right here in my country. They were in Calgary, Alberta that year. At the time, for a brief period in my young life, I was living in Hinton, Alberta. The only thing Hinton was ever known for was a tragic train accident just outside of town a few decades ago. Anyhow.
My mother, eternally trying to keep up the hypothetical Jones’, decided that we should take advantage of our relative proximity to the path of the Olympic Torch, which would be skimming past our shithole town on its way to Calgary.
We got bundled up in our snowsuits, mitts on strings, toques, boots and scarves and then promptly had to go pee. Haha, kidding. Anyways, we waddled out to the good old pickup truck and off we went.
We arrived to our destination, the ditch of a highway in the middle of nowhere. We pulled over and got out of the truck. My then-3-year-old brother and I stood at the side of the road, kicking snow in that bored fashion where you pick at it with your toe until a chunk loosens, then you kick it at the person beside you and laugh. I had no idea what the hell was going on or why there were so many people parked in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold, standing around staring into the distance at nothing. Luckily I didn’t know what cults were at that age, or I would have been freaked out thinking this was some sort of mass suicide thing and we were waiting for our mother ship to fly by us on the horizon before we all toasted Mr. Cult Leader and drank some arsenic.
Time passed and the masses around us seemed to be getting antsier. Before I knew it some caravan was slowly chugging down the road towards us. People seemed to be getting really damned excited. I still had no idea what was going on.
As they got closer, I could see some guy running in front of a pack of cars which were following him. Running, running, I realized he was holding fire. Remember, I was five and fire was bad.
The caravan got closer to the crowds and then…….Running Guy stopped in front of our truck. Before I knew it, some stranger (ah! Stranger Danger!) was waving fire in my face, muttering something about something. I freaked out and cowered behind my mom’s leg. He then assaulted my brother with his crazy fire. My brother took it from him, which seemed to make my parents pretty happy.
My memory of that day is sketchy, cuz I was so young. All in all, I had no idea what the hell was going on.
There are photos of that day, documenting my chickenshit response and my brother’s far cooler response.
I had an opportunity to hold the Olympic Torch and I just hid behind my mom’s leg. Score one for Talea.
Who can say that? Who can say that they held the Olympic Torch? It’s semi-cool and probably wins you a few drinks at the bar occasionally. I was seriously pissed at myself for passing up a once in a lifetime opportunity for many years. To be part of something so momentous and time-honoured and all that jazz. Plus, I was annoyed that my total failure was documented and preserved in our family photo albums.
However, I’ve let that anger go. I now see the Olympics for what they are; a showcase and celebration of those wealthy enough to afford illegal substances and/or those who are very adept with the ol’ Gillette and manage to remove all of their body hair without any visible bumps. Granted, shaving one’s entire body and then gallivanting around in front of millions is definitely something to be applauded for, but it hardly equals athletic prowess. Applauding some teenaged overachiever who’s mom has forced them into the gym every day at 4 AM for the last seven years is just kind of odd to me, not spectacular.
I’m not really very sorry I didn’t participate in the pomp and circumstance associated with that.
At least, that’s what I tell myself.