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Humdrum Olympic Dreams

As you might have heard, the Olympic Games have begun. Non-stop coverage of young, lithe, athletic people has me fantasizing about what might have been if I wasn’t short and clumsy. In my early teen years I was an excellent swimmer. I did reasonably well until everyone else grew taller and could beat me simply by virtue of the fact that their arms were longer.  In high school, I was a varsity volleyball player. The fact that I could nearly walk under the net without ducking my head only helped to hone my skills as a setter by not having to waste time practicing those pesky jumping and blocking skills. Needless to say, any dreams I had of being in the Olympics were never realized.

If I can’t be an athlete, could there still be some way for me to participate in the Olympics? I wouldn’t want to be a referee, judge or time-keeper.  With so many hopes and dreams on the line, these jobs are a very stressful way to be involved in the games. Being one of the sports commentators appears to be a great option with an all-expense paid trip to the Olympics and great seats to events. However, my lack of sports knowledge might be a detriment to the viewers at home who are expecting in-depth analysis of the action. After much consideration, I came to the conclusion that the only way I am qualified to participate in the Olympics is as a spectator.

Fully committed to that role, I watched hours of Olympic coverage this past weekend. During the archery competition I discovered that there was a way I could keep my Olympic dream alive. After the archers shot their arrows at the target, someone walked down to the target, removed those arrows and brought them back. That’s something I could do! Sure, I’ll never compete as an athlete or feel the weight of a medal draped around my neck, but there is still a way for me to participate in the Olympic Games. After that realization, I began to watch Olympic events more intently. The talent of the world-class athletes was admirable, but I was focused on something else.  I watched the background for the unsung heroes who are a crucial part of the Olympic Games. The skills these men and women demonstrated while carrying out their Olympic duties are strikingly similar to skills I have mastered while doing housework. Without even knowing it, I’ve had years of training. I’m now ready to rise to the Olympic level. Unlike athletes who spend their lives training for one sport, my skills are applicable in a wide variety of sporting events.

Basketball and indoor volleyball Between points and during time outs, a team of people with mops runs out to wipe the sweat from the floor. I have many years of mopping experience, although I normally don’t have an audience or run while mopping at home.

Long jump and triple jump Before the leaf blower became commonplace for yard work, we gathered fallen leaves the old-fashioned way; with a rake. My experience with this low-tech hand tool qualifies me to be the person who rakes the sand after the judges have measured the distance each contestant has jumped.

Gymnastics and weight-lifting Have you seen the mess around the chalk bowl? Someone needs to dust all that.

Rhythmic gymnastics You can’t tell me that long ribbon they twirl around doesn’t get tangled. I’ve spent hours of my life untangling things – hair, electrical cords, the innards of cassette tapes and shoelaces.

Sailing As long as I’m bragging about my untangling skills, I should mention that those same skills qualify me to be the person who stands on the dock to untie the boat before the race begins.

Swimming Did you notice that the swimmers leave the ready room fully clothed? When they reach the starting blocks they place their clothes into a small laundry basket which someone carries away. I have carried many a laundry basket during my lifetime. The wet, slippery pool deck offers an added bit of athleticism to make the job more challenging.

Track and field Tidying my house on a daily basis means picking up errant items and returning them to their proper place. That same skill set could be used to fetch the shot-put, discus and javelin and return those to the athletes.

Marathon and road race cycling –At designated points on the race route, people from an athlete’s team stand on the side of the road and hand out a bag of food or bottle of water. I’ve been training for that task for years by standing at my front door handing out Halloween candy to pushing, grabbing trick-or-treaters.

EquestrianI’ve scooped cat litter most of my life. While I’m sure the volume of the horses’ droppings and the size of the shovel needed would be vastly different from those used in a litter box, picking up poop is picking up poop.

I’m not sure how to apply for any of these positions, but I have 4 years until the next summer games to figure out how to get hired. If I that doesn’t work out, I could always participate in the Olympics by being an official usher like the woman in this video.  I certainly have the necessary sarcasm skills for the job.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

61 responses »

  1. I nominated you for a Tell Me About Yourself award. It is super prestigious. It may be the resurgence of curling you have been fighting for.

  2. Had to come back and tell you how sick I am of volleyball – it’s always on the Olympic coverage…OK the girls are really cute, but about ready to kick sand in someone’s face (and there’s another event for us non-athletes?)

    • I’m disgusted with the Olympic coverage too. I do not need to watch dozens of preliminary qualifying heats for swimming and track. Show me the finals of those events and that will give them time to show me some of the other sports.

  3. Maybe you could start a new Olympic sport. Like bring the fastest to sink to the bottom of the Olympic pool. I’ll race you!

    • In the 1976 Featherbed Lane Camp Olympics, I won a gold colored medal for being able to float longer than any other camper. I suppose it stands to reason that there should be a medal offered for the person who can sink the fastest.

  4. Paprika, you had me in stitches!! That video has been on our news (in the UK) and we reckon she is epitomises the essence of the olympic spirit. All those rather excitable athletes are not the norm. Personally, Austin and I get our thrills from synchronised sarcasm – the couch potato section. Thanks for the laugh!

  5. too funny. that woman is hilarious – i am sure you could pull something like that off quite easily 🙂

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence for my ability to pull off that job. I’m hoping to apply for the position for the games in Rio. I’ll put you on my resume as a reference 🙂

      • yes, do feel free to do so.
        on a completely different note, have been meaning to let you know. was in Germany for a vacation recently, and i saw signage for Fürstenberg beer while in southern Germany, and actually had to think of you. The spelling is a little off, but maybe one day they will get it right 😀

      • Thanks for thinking of me on your vacation. So sorry to have permeated your brain that way 🙂

  6. You’ve come up with some great ideas. That gymnastics duster is definitely needed. They’re also in desperate need of a hair and make-up artist from this century.

  7. Reblogged this on Sprites Cubed and commented:
    Bwahahaha. This made me smile so I had to share it. Maybe I should look into a new career path as well. -Sare

  8. If humour (is this the UK spelling of the word?) were an event I think your writing could serious contend – at least in the preliminary rounds. Harshest scores would undoubtedly come from Great Britain.

    • I believe humour is how the folks in the UK spell it, but don’t quote me on that. As an American, I spell it without the second u. Either way it is spelled, I thank you for taking the time to read and leave a comment. I’m imagining humor as an Olympic event with judges holding up score cards when I finish reading one of my blog posts aloud.

  9. Hahaha…You are hilarious, Paprika!

    Hey, I fit your description — short and clumsy. Plus, I’ve also had enough training on those olympic side jobs. Maybe I should try out for 2016 too. 🙂 But I think the best way to be in the olympics is just to simply sneak in like the mystery woman in the Indian team. 🙂

    • So glad you enjoyed the post, Grace 🙂

      I think we are developing quite the contingent of “highly qualified specialists” for the next Olympics. Maybe we should make a video demonstrating our skills and send it in with our applications. What could be more fun than watching someone mop, rake and carry laundry baskets?

  10. I wouldn’t mind helping some of those male swimmers out of their suits 😉 Best job on earth!

  11. Pingback: My enthusiasm is waning | But Mostly Hers

  12. You are SO onto something here. I must say that, as a former figure skater, don’t think you can’t also contribute to the Winter Games! Skaters need someone to open and close the door to the ice for them (you don’t think they’d do that THEMSELVES, do you?) 🙂

    I did notice that Phelps had on a pretty sweet pair of headphones on and wondered, how does he make sure to get them back after he finishes? I didn’t notice the laundry basket.

    One other observation: I see that the synchronized divers (OMG that is utterly incomprehensible to me – I am watching it right now) towel themselves off right before the dive with little washcloths before they plunge to their fate – I think they could use someone to wring those out, yes?

    • I was worried that my skill set would limit me to only the summer Olympics. Thank you so much for letting me know that there are jobs I’d be able to do at the winter Olympics.

      It’s funny that you mentioned the synchronized diving. Like you, I can’t imagine how two people can manage to jump, twist, flip and fall in unison. I had enough trouble just marching in the high school band and that was just walking on flat ground.

      I did consider picking up and wringing out their little washcloths, but I watched the competition very carefully. The divers climb the board/platform with those mini-towels then throw them down, but they immediately retrieve them upon exiting the pool. There was no towel picking up specialist involved.

  13. Ha ha, Paprika. I think you should apply for a job for the next Olympics.

  14. I’d say you’re also a great candidate for Olympic humor writing!

  15. Very clever and very funny, Paprika!!! And yes, I would love to listen to you in that chair with the megaphone!!! You would steal the show for sure! So many side jobs to do at the Olympics….what a great idea!!! Need anyone to carry your luggage??!! xoxo

  16. A whole new look on the Olympics – Go Paprika!

  17. Uncle Sea Salt

    I think you’re leaving out one of your most developed skills: direction giver. As a wife, you are endowed with a great sense of telling your husband “you should have turned left three blocks back”…or “you just passed the exit”. Just think how handy those skills will be for the biathlon for men? My better half would agree entirely 🙂

  18. When you get your job at the Olympics, come down to the local beach bar. I will be handing out umbrella drinks there. I think that would be a really fun job!

  19. John Olav Ytreland

    I have always been fascinated by athletes that clearly are not there to win. Like the swimmer Hamadou Djibo Issaka from Niger. He is in his mid 30’s and as late as May this year his coach told him: “You might give rowing a shot.” He had to train the few weeks he had left in Egypt and Tunisia, because there were no boats in his own country. The Olympic committee in Niger gave him a wild card to the Olympics, and suddenly he was rowing next to the best in the world.

    Steve Redgrave, a british athlete who has won gold medal in the same sport in 5 consecutive Olympics since 1984, stated that unqualified athletes like Hamadou shouldn’t be allowed to take part.

    Mr. Issaka’s plan is to go home and inspire and train others to learn this sport. I like watching some professional sports, but I also like the Olympics because there is room for everyone. That’s not a bad message to send these days.

    Incidentally, I am moving this week and have covered most of the Olympics events.

    • Thanks for sharing that story about the Nigerian swimmer. I had not heard about him. Most of the athletes that participate in the Olympics are not going to win medals, but I think their dedication and determination is admirable nonetheless. Life isn’t always about winning.

  20. Here is hoping you can get to Rio as an arrow retriever!!! I think my skills lie with the laundry basket toting!

  21. The Olympics NEED you. They really NEED you.
    (You have practiced quickly letting go of the rope/line after you untied the sailboats? That could be another important photo-worthy event…)

  22. LOL That video. Yes, I could TOTALLY do that job. Your rhythmic gymnastic comment was right on. I would trip myself in that ribbon.

    Still laughing listening to that video…she is too funny.

  23. I want to participate too, but how? I don’t do well at fetch. June Buggie says he could rake the sand pit, but I’m betting he’d leave something behind.

    • Rumpy, I’m surprised you don’t do well with fetch. I have no doubt that June Buggie would enjoy the sand pit, but I think the Olympic organizers would have to replace the sand if we let June Buggie in there.

  24. I enjoy watching the olympics too, it is the first time I’m watching weighlifting. You can see they do put up a lot of effort, trying so hard to supersede their abilities.

    I think your have enough work experience in the above sports to become an volunteer.

  25. I’m with you! Don’t forget running after the tennis balls ( although my Labrador would probably be better at that!)

  26. They should have medals for those guys maybe wood, plastic and tin 🙂

  27. Great list! I’m considering Curling as my Olympic sport because I’m good at Swiffering and at times, have a pretty bad blonde dye job.


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