Tuesday, August 21, 2012

831. Olympics, Shmalympics

I always knew I was athletic.  Back when I was a baby and most other babies were crawling or walking, I was burping a lot and occasionally rolling over.  When other elementary-aged kids were off-roading with their new two-wheel bikes and flipping wheelies, I was showing them who was boss with my rickety garage-sale training wheels.  And now that I am an adult and realize that I will never, not ever, be a professional archer, there is one sport that has presented itself to me as truly MOV-friendly:  ribbon twirling.    

Before this last Olympics, I had no idea that such a thing existed.  All those hours in junior high when I danced in front of my bedroom's full-length closet mirror to Pat Benetar songs while flipping around leftover curling ribbon from my last birthday party, I was actually training for my future sport of choice.  Twirl, twirl, kick, spin, oops, pick up ribbon.  I was getting good!    
Alas, at that time, ribbon twirling competition had not yet reached the frenzied zenith of popularity that it one day would enjoy.  The National Counsel of All Things Olympics (NCATO) had not discovered the greatness of ribbons back in 1986.

There I was, attempting to play field hockey and getting all nerve-endings completely beaten out of my bloody shins by those mean girls with sticks, when all along, I could have just been twirling!  
Ribbon twirling is like all the easy parts of gymnastics, the too much eye-shadow parts of ballet, and the bouncy forced-happiness parts of cheerleading, all rolled into one.  It is the über-sport for cute girls with zero talent.  

I knew I would fit right in.  Minus the cute part. 

Unfortunately, I am “too old” now to participate in ribbon twirling (the official rules cap the age limit at 11 ½); but, I have decided not to be depressed about this.  Instead, I choose to do what anyone would in my situation:  make fun of ribbon twirlers. 

Can you imagine them on the Olympics’ bus back to the hotel after a busy day of practicing and competing?  There they are, halfway around the world, making friends with other world-class athletes who have prepared for years for their event, when the dreaded question arises:  Which sport do you do? 
“My name is Elizabetta, and I play beach volleyball.” 

“I am Sonja, and I dive.” 
“I am Kioto, and I bike.” 

And then a tiny squeaky voice comes from the way back of the bus, “My name is Tiffany, and I ribbon twirl!” 
The bus goes silent.  It is as if someone’s little sister has snuck on board illegally and is begging to go to the PG-13 rated movie with everyone else, even though (clearly) she is only allowed to go to rated G. 

You know how in jail there are hierarchies of criminals?  The murderers get a certain amount of respect from their peers, because, well, because they are serving four consecutive life sentences for killing someone.  Murderers are considered dangerous.  The other inmates also clear a wide berth around the arsonists—you don’t want to make one of them mad.  But the white-collar criminal who is in for six months for tax evasion?  He is about as harmful as leftover wrapping supplies, minus the scissors.  He gets zero respect, maybe less.  The other felons make fun of him. 
That is the ribbon twirler.  The ribbon twirler is the wannabe.  Her winter counterparts, the ice-dancers, say, “At least I can skate!”   

Even the ribbon twirler herself knows it is all a sham.  After she kisses her Silver Medal and dedicates it to Justin Beiber, she shrugs and remarks, “Now onto the real sport:  hula hooping.” 


  1. Well, at least you can twirl ribbon. I'm pretty sure I can't even do that. I wonder if things like folding laundry, couch surfing or dishwasher unloading will ever be part of the Olympics? If so, I might have a chance!

    1. I can totally out-fold you, woman. You might take the Silver, but the Gold has MOV written all over it. T-shirts, pants, even socks. Yep, I am a WINNER.

    2. I believe you, completely. However, I'm pretty sure I can couch surf with the best. :-)

  2. I used to feel that the twirlers were at the bottom of the Olympics food chain too until I saw that there are now trampoline events. Trampolines like people have in their back yards. Although I guess at some point they will have trampoline twirling events for those that aren't talented enough to compete in the main trampoline events.

  3. I'm still waiting for the olympics to make shot puting a drinking game. I can damn sure put some shots away. Maybe then I'd watch them.

  4. I don't think I could be a competitive ribbon twirler as those girls actually have to do some gymnastics. Kicking my leg higher that my cat (she weighs 8 pounds so it's not totally unimpressive) might be a push.

    I was depressed for weeks in 1992 when they took away my sport. I could have been great...given a chance. Solo Synchronized swimming. The water would hide my strong yet mighty thighs and how hard could it be to synchronize to no-one.

  5. Ribbon twirling just cracks me up but even more is an adult trying to take it up. So funny. Have you ever seen the Catherine Tate Show? One of her skits is about a 30 year old woman who is still a baton twirler. Hysterical. You gotta wonder how other athletes see the other sports.

  6. Do you think the ribbon twirler feels more relevant than the 56 year old dressage dame? I am trying to decide where she falls in the Olympic hierarchy!

  7. I can't think of anything funny to say because you pretty much captured it all. Great job, oh ribbon twirler.

  8. Now I have done some ribbon twirling in my life raising a cutesy cheerleader and having to help with the routines shameful as it was I had no ability other then my ribbon ALWAYS got tangled & it became a point instead of picking me to help fill in for cutesy Ashley, Brittany, or whoever else was absent that day they started picking the 5 yr old brother of one of the girls because his ribbon never got tangled and he had more moves then me SO I say Keep the damn ribbon twirling I didn't want to do it anyway, whew bad flashback 1996!

  9. Okay, I'm hopelessly late but..........ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL. This is like saying you wrap presents for a living. Or stack boxes. Or sample toothpaste. Rofl.


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