Lyrical Laughs

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Maine winters are medal worthy

The Winter Olympics have been the highlight of our television time for the past two weeks. With closing ceremonies taking place this Sunday, we can once again look forward to not feeling guilty for ordering take-out while witnessing the training regimens of various competitors.

Did you happen to catch the aerial skiing competition? I was dizzy just trying to keep up with the names of their insane moves. The only full, double full, full moves going on in this house are related to not stepping on a cat during meal time. Spouse and I used to ski back in the stone age, i.e., when we were dating. I wasn’t very good at it but you had to give me an A for effort - and for being able to walk the next day.

There were so many incredible moments and jaw-dropping feats over the past two weeks… and then there was curling, which I swear was created specifically for parents of toddlers and/or teenagers who desperately need a safe space to vent. Is there any other reason to scream at a giant 44-pound stone while balancing on ice with a broom?

I’m curious… tell me how you feel about these phrases describing Olympic events: Plummeting head-first down a steep and treacherous ice track on a tiny sled; timed runs down narrow, twisted, banked, iced tracks in a gravity powered sled; no protection should they make an error.

These statements would cause fear in the average person – but not in a Mainer. We deal with such terrifying circumstances from November through March at the very least with our own Olympics to contend with.

First, there’s the Mom at the Mall Biathlon. This entails attempting to use your one-day-only Macy’s 20 percent off coupon before bringing three kids to Supercuts without calling ahead… during February school break.

One of my (least) favorite events is the Brick Sidewalk Luge. It doesn’t involve an actual luge, but walking through Portland’s Old Port after the sidewalks are plowed and not sanded can have the same effect as hurtling down a slippery ice track at great speed. For extra points, use the arms-grasping-at-air method of balancing. It won’t work but it’s very dramatic.

Spouse’s strength is the Freestyle Driveway Skiing, best executed after a snowstorm when he’s moving our cars around and cleaning them off. Because our garage is his third “territory” (the other two are his half of the living room sofa and the whole basement) and a car will never fit in there, his rule is that we park our vehicles on the grass when a storm is expected, so our plow guy can clean the whole driveway. Then we have to trudge through the snow to our cars, clean them off and park them in the neatly plowed driveway. Technically, that should qualify for the cross-country (fine, cross-driveway) event.

Finally, there is that Maine specialty – the roof raking event. Come on, you know you want a medal for having to rake your roof.

There were a few wardrobe malfunctions during the Olympics this year. Mainers can relate, what with boots getting caught in deep snow drifts, scarves flying off during high winds and gloves mysteriously disappearing on the coldest day of the year. Wait – that would be one glove, never both.

It’s been an entertaining Olympic season, but we only get to see it every four years. Good thing Maine winters provide us with plenty of opportunity to practice our techniques. Maybe roof raking will make it to Beijing in 2022.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The GOAT's deep, dark secret

It is almost impossible to live in New England and not have some interaction with a rabid fan of the New England Patriots. From the beginning of football season in September until the playoffs, their stats tend to be water cooler fodder, Uber analysis, and occasionally a softly spoken prayer uttered during church. I think it must be a law that true fans have to use the phrase “we” any time they are discussing their favorite team.

We really wiped the floor with those guys.
We’re in the lead.
We’re going to the Super Bowl.

Really? This “we” stuff is beyond me. I didn’t see you in the team line-up or on the field – not even on the side with a striped shirt and a whistle. Nope, you were home on your sofa or at your local watering hole yelling at the television screen, and the closest you got to investing in the team’s welfare was your Patriots t-shirt, and guess what? Dick’s Sporting Goods reaped the majority of that profit.

My teasing is all in good fun and fandom. I am particularly sensitive to the Patriots’ enthusiastic admirers. The team is, after all, heading to the Super Bowl for the tenth time, which is a phenomenal feat. But... well, nobody’s perfect.

During middle school Second Born participated in cheerleading – the most unlikely activity for her to choose – for one season. She confesses now to not being the coach’s favorite, since she tended to be “too busy” to attend practice half the time, but she did get to board a bus with her team mates for a day at Gillette Stadium. Her dad, being the kind and generous soul that he is, volunteered to chaperone. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

The afternoon was crammed with activity, including an inflatable obstacle course for the visiting cheerleaders and an autograph session with the Patriots, but Second Born only has one clear memory of the day.
Anybody got a pen?

Tom Brady stole someone’s pen.

Yup, everyone has a dark side. All right, maybe not a dark side exactly.

The story goes like this. The New England Patriots appeared during that afternoon to visit with fans who stood least six deep in anticipation of gleaning a treasured autograph. Second Born tried to shove her tiny body through the wall of adults who had somehow forgotten this was for the kids that they had chaperoned, but it was fairly futile. She was, however, able to witness The Moment. Brady had accepted a pen from an excited fan hoping for an autograph, signed one or two footballs that were shoved in his direction – neither of them belonging to the pen owner – and turned and walked off with pen in hand.

“Did he just –?”
“Yeah, he did.”

That’s right, you heard it here first. Tom Brady took possession. Of a pen. You think you know a guy.

What might have prompted this misdemeanor? Did the GOAT simply forget that he hadn’t been holding a pen when he first appeared? Or was he given a directive? Perhaps Belichick gave his team a pep talk ahead of time, much like he does before each game.

“Hey guys, we’re having a great year but you know, this fancy stadium isn’t cheap to maintain. We’ve had to cut back on a few things, like office supplies… see what you can do.”

We’ll never know, I suppose.

This Sunday there will be a whole lot of well-deserved cheering going on for the Patriots. Maybe one of you has a connection to the team – excuse me, I mean our team - and can share my thoughts with them. If you’re reading this, Tom (Brady, that is), I wish you the best of luck Sunday.

Now, about that pen.