February 1988 was a busy time. The month before, we’d won county for the first time, thus ticketing me for the first of my many school trips (this one to Jacksonville in April). The Presidential primary train had reached New Hampshire after a series of shocks in Iowa. And the Olympics were in Calgary.
I remember that curling and short-track speed skating were demonstration events. I remember that David Foster song being used in every third movie trailer for years afterward. (“Winter Games” in case you were wondering…you’ll recognize it, trust me.) I remember…not much else, if I’m honest, except that one of the first nights overlapped a birthday party where I made quite a spectacle of myself, and not in the way people have become accustomed to me making a spectacle of myself nowadays.
I also remember that for the first time, Team USA swapped the cowboy look for long wool trenchcoats and fedoras, in either red or white or blue, making for what Time magazine described as “a bit like a jolly bootlegger’s parade.” Beats the hell out of the modern Ralph Lauren look, which is so played out that the old dude is falling off that damn horse.
The Olympics are always a handy marker for how my life is going. Four years ago in Torino, I have to say things were looking pretty good – we had just moved into the house, I had just been promoted to an actual desk job at work, and during the fortnight we found ourselves in New Orleans for a wedding (happy anniversary, Team Black Swan East!) and some good times (Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s and the original Emeril’s in the Warehouse district, all on the same trip, and that doesn’t even include the REALLY fun stuff like Mimi’s in the Marigny or Dos Jefes or the Columns or…God, I need to go back to New Orleans). Four years before that, I was so bad off with flu-like symptoms that I had to take a liter of fluid in the ER before staggering to my girlfriend’s apartment so Team Ploughboy could all get together to watch USA-Canada (damn that Salt Lake Loonie). And four years before THAT meant takeout from Outback in Akron, Ohio, and wondering how much weed one snowboarder could smoke.
Ultimately, I think the lesson of the Olympics is that your life goes further in four years than you think. It’s worth taking time to appreciate the trip.
(Also, I am apparently a natural at curling. I wish I were a natural at snowcross, but you take what you can get, I guess…)