When I was very young and growing up in the seventies, we had olympic heroes. Those heroes ended up on the Wheaties Box and everything. As a child I felt that I was destined to be a famous person. I wanted to be on the Wheaties box. What would my talent be? Well if it was during the Olympics I was going to be a Gold medalist in *something fun like Gymnastics or figure skating. I would even skate with a boy (gasp) if I could win a medal. Honestly I didn’t really want the medal I just wanted people to know who I was. I felt like a rather invisible human and I wanted that to change.
If I just held my horses and waited for Cheers to come on I would know that you could be a bar fly and “Everyone would know your name”!!! Unfortunately for me this was a lackluster dream as well. I am not really great at holding my liquor down. But Starbucks knows me. Jittery and full of caffeine probably shocks non of you as the complete reality of who I am.
Okay all dreams, as my childhood played out, in my house came alive on this circular rug that had a very made by hand feel. It had bands of color (brown being the dominant color and three rings of that, then there was a blue center and a blue ring and then If my memory serves me correctly there was a mustard yellow ring too. Sounds fetching doesn’t it?) Well as I watched these ice queens dancing into the hearts of everyone watching, all the while balancing on those skates…(I wore double runners and I looked like I was simply out on the ice because I dropped something. I kept my head down and shimmied forward with zero control over where I would end up.) But as Dorothy Hamill did her triple axles so did I, on my carpet and never missing a landing. Unless I fell, in which case that didn’t count because “no one saw that”.
If my family was watching with me I would hear “Becki, sit down! We are all trying to watch!”
I couldn’t hear them. I was in the zone.
If I was on my way to the Olympics with my fine abilities as a gymnast this had to either happen in my bedroom where my giant twin sized “mat” could break my fall. Or, when shit was about to get REAL, on my balance beam made of concrete blocks and a two by four, outside in my backyard away from prying eyes of neighbors who called my mom to tell on me. I practiced for hours.
As a self-taught gymnast, I was amazing!!!
As a balance beam engineer, I was a failure.
One day when I was outside ready to do my act and win and get my face on the Wheaties box. I was impatient putting my beam together. I must have been strong when I was crazy because I carried those heavy cement blocks everywhere. But had a hard time picking up normal everyday heavy things like the vacuum. Perhaps if I thought I could win some sort of fame for vacuuming I would’ve been all over that equipment.
I’m outside and I am rushing to get my balance beam together before my bothers get home and pick on me. My sister was usually my partner in crime, but for some reason she isn’t there. My memory has no real reason for her lack of participation, let’s say she was off doing something amazing with her friends, because she was very well liked. I was weird and found it hard to relate to real people, who weren’t princesses or celebrities or heroic (like in my books), so I was alone in my Olympics. Because my sensible sister wasn’t there to tell me “NO!!!!”, I could now practice what I called “My no handed cart-wheel”. (I didn’t know the names of things, because I honestly didn’t listen to what they called these moves. I was simply entranced by the power wielding gymnasts)
I get myself to a flat spot in the yard and build my balance beam in haste. I try it to see that it is steady. (It wasn’t!!!)
It is. So I jump up and I walk across and wait for my imaginary announcer to call my name. I nod and then I begin my performance. I do a few things and I get off. (Ugh that was shit) luckily it was just practice.
I jump up and wait for the announcer. I begin my routine and nope I’m unhappy with it. That’s practice too. But the next time will be the REAL OLYMPICS! (In my head)
I jump up, because this is the real Olympics (in my head) the announcers thank their sponsors this time because this is legit and I have to tell myself that this one is for real. I nod and I start my performance and hey what do you know, I’m amazing. I get the courage up to do my “no handed cart-wheel”.
The announcer whispers into the mic “Now this is where we will see for the first time ever, the no handed cart-wheel.”
“She’s amazing!” the other, never heard from before, announcer whispers.
“She really is! Did you know that she learned gymnastics by practicing in her back yard?”
“I did not know that!”
“Okay the no handed cart-wheel is coming soon!”
“Yes we must be quiet!”
I get my nerve up and I start darting across the rickety old two by four and when I bounced on the end of it to give me some height the fucking thing fell apart but I was upside down in the air. The board swings behind me and knocks me straight out of the air. If this was baseball I would have gotten a home run. But this was not baseball and so all I got was a concussion. I lay on the grass and I see stars actual stars, birds tweeting the whole nine. I am laying on the ground trying to catch my breath. The board hit me so hard that it knocked the wind out of me. I reach up to the part of my head that hurts the most and it was lumpy and bleeding.
“Oh shit!” I think. I had better clean this up before anyone gets home. I go to get up and I’m dizzy. I sit back down. I am laying in the grass and trying to will myself to get up and clean this mess before people start arriving home. I roll onto my side and I take a deep breath. I hoist myself up to a sitting position. I breathe through the aching in my head and wait until the wave of nausea passes, then I get to my knees. The Olympics are over. The announcers are gone and it is just me hurt in my backyard with a concussion inflicted by my own stupidity. I look at the carnage behind me.
The two cement blocks sitting in the middle of my backyard with no real symmetry at all and the board was close to me but not anywhere near the cement blocks. Now if there was a video of this it would end up on some YouTube channel somewhere titled “Jackass knocks herself out by trying to do an aerial off of a make shift balance beam”.
I feel so sick to my stomach and my head is throbbing. I clean up the mess and I can hear the blood pumping through my veins. In fact I think I can even hear the earth spinning. I go inside and I have to do my chores before my mom gets home. I first need to get myself cleaned up. I look at myself in the mirror and my face is pale and dirty. My shirt that says “Tiny But Tough” has grass stains all over it, my jeans are ripped and also have grass stains. I’m going to need to do laundry first.
I get myself into some clean clothes and I get my clothes in the wash. I do a complete load so it isn’t suspicious that I did laundry. I get upstairs and I have to do dishes and vacuum as my chores. I get all of that done and when my mother gets home no one is the wiser. I then do my best trick and practice being invisible until my head heals.
I was the “Agony of defeat” person at the beginning of the Olympics. I was an Olympics failure. My face was not going on the Wheaties box. I will never eat Wheaties again!!!!
I never told anyone about this cool little stunt of mine. So any of my family reading this….I lived, its fine. I learned my lesson. I didn’t try this again until the next month probably. I do remember the day that I stuck the landing on this cool little trick. But that’s not the point. I’m sure that plucky perseverance shouldn’t be the moral here. Right???
Moral of my story: Don’t try this at home kids, it was completely stupid. I am no hero and I didn’t get famous! All I got was a concussion that I had to hide from my family, which was also a stupid move. Don’t be like me!!!! Also don’t eat Tide pods!!!
Until next time 🙂