Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some Nighttime Snack Inspiration

Tonight's Nighttime Snack comes to us by way of guest submission. If you're looking for some inspiration after my depressing start to this series, look no further. Today's story comes to us from Nick:

This is not a picture of Nick, FYI

It's 2008, the month is August. For the last two years, World of Warcraft has been  the end-all, be-all of my life. In fact, you know the face hugger from the Alien movies? That is WoW for me. But for the last month, I've been cold turkey. It hasn't been easy. I go to sites like and feebly talk about how much my post-WoW life sucks and what a black crater WoW has left. Wowdetox is a place people go to to say things like, "I'm still playing, even though my dog died last week, and I regret not playing more with him... :(" You get the picture.  
I'm about to relapse, but first I decide to give this Beijing Opening Ceremony thing a watch. Pundits and commentators have been making a furor about China hosting the Olympics. The opening ceremony will be massive, militaristic, vaguely fascistic, they say... and I think, "Good!" I like massive, militaristic, vaguely fascistic displays. What else am I supposed to think when so many opening ceremonies as of late have sucked?! Athens, oh god, Athens!  

I watch, impressed, as a bunch of gray computerized boxes rise up and down in one, big pixelated motion. Then the commotion stops and performers emerge out of the top of each box and wave at the audience. It's not computerized! I'm hooked. World of Warcraft recedes from my mind and August 2008 becomes the month that my eyes are glued to the Olympics.  

The 2008 Olympics were, I think everyone would agree, extraordinary. In particular, I was riveted watching Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor dominate beach volleyball. Misty May. Misty Maaaaay! Of course, Usain Bolt becoming the Fastest Man in the World cannot be forgotten. And Nastia Liukin in the Gymnastics, where I wondered over and over again how she did that thing with her wrists on the high bar.  

It was the swimming, in particular, that I fell for. I cheered on Dara Torres in her quest for gold, groaned when she lost for a filed fingernail. I scared my dog out of the room when I hollered at Jason Lezak to go faster, to somehow do some magic in that water, appreciating nothing of the effort and celestial-object-moving willpower it takes to summon something like that in the last 25 meters of a 100 free. Tired of losing, indeed.  

But just as one sport dominated my Olympics-viewing, it was one athlete in that sport who was front-and-center. Michael Phelps went for 8 golds and he got them all. Unfortunately, I was spoiled by a news site that Phelps won the 100 fly, but all the way up to that race, and the one after it, I was as nervous as anyone else. "Can he really do it? Get 8? Beat Spitz?"  

He did it. And in the process, I fell in love with swimming. I didn't know anything about the sport, I was just like anyone else who watched the races, looking at these athletes and saying, "I can do that!" but then discovering later on that they make it look so easy. But as the rest of the months of 2008 passed and most Olympics viewers had already forgot about swimming, I remembered. At the time, I was six feet tall and 240 pounds. It was time to lose those extra pounds, I decided. I signed up for a community college's swim team.  

I remember imagining that the people on the swim team were going to be like, "Who the hell is this fat, hairy doofus to just waltz on a swim team with no experience at all?!" Joining a swim team was actually something I had wanted to do in high school, or at least I had a vague idea that I wanted to do something water-related because I knew I loved the water. But what held me back was my fear that I wouldn't be able to improve at all because of my hearing impairment. *cue one-note piano key music* I thought I would just be an all-around nuisance to whatever coaches I had, as they bellowed to be heard by me.  

As I soon discovered, swim coaches really don't mind increasing their decibels. And my first coach, in particular, didn't find my hearing impairment a nuisance at all. In fact, he went so far as to get a little whiteboard and write sets on it in front of me with a marker. But that was just at the beginning... he and I both soon discovered that I could hear well enough if I just paid attention.  
And my teammates embraced me with open arms, even if they had years more experience than I did. So there you go! Every one of my fears about going on a swim team were absolutely unfounded. And by the second time wearing it, I got pretty used to the swim brief, too.

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