So, the Summer Olympics are upon us, and although I will probably watch some of it, with every Olympics, I find myself less engaged than I used to be. When I was a kid, the Olympics seemed positively magical. Plus, with four years between each one, they seemed so rare. This was partly because four years was a much more significant proportion of my life back then. Now that the Summer and Winter games alternate every 2 years, I seem to always find myself thinking, “It’s time for the Olympics again? Didn’t we just do that?”
Another reason the Olympics seemed magical to me as a kid is that, at the time, there was still a possibility (slight as it were) that I could be in them some day. Although I dabbled in gymnastics, I was never particularly adept at it, but that hardly mattered. If I tried hard enough, I could be the next Mary Lou Retton or Katarina Witt. In 1984, the Olympics in LA saw the debut of rhythmic gymnastics as an Olympic sport. For those who don’t know, rhythmic gymnastics is kind of like a combination of dancing and tumbling…with props. My friends and I all made ourselves ribbon wands and danced around with them. Not to brag (okay, maybe a little), but mine was by far the most kickass. Whereas the wands of most of my friends consisted of crepe paper taped to a stick, mine had real, 2-inch wide green satin ribbon and a smooth wooden handle (which I think originally belonged to a broom). There was actual sawing and drilling involved, so my parents help me make the wand. I was dancing and twirling with mine long after the wands of the other kids had fallen apart. I was pretty sure my wand and I were headed straight for Olympic fame. Never mind my lack of any formal training in rhythmic gymnastics–all I needed was a ribbon wand and a dream! Of course, not long after the Olympics were over, my ribbon wand began to gather dust, and my Olympic dreams were shelved…at least until 1988.
Now I know that, unless I suddenly take up curling and am particularly adept at it, I will probably never be an Olympian, but the Olympics will probably always bring back a flood of childhood memories.
Note: No, the above is not an actual magazine cover. I had it made in a booth at Six Flags.