Gold Medals and Green WaterOpinion
Because I write about outdoor activities, and because most summer Olympic competitions consists of outdoor activities, I decided to attend the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. I figured it would be a nice break from my hectic summer schedule of irritating people I don’t know on Facebook and complaining about Pokemon Go players who drive their cars into buildings.
Unfortunately, Rio de Janeiro is not, for some reason, located in Texas. It’s not even in North America. It’s way down in South America, in Brazil. And since Jocelynn and I already spent a week in St. Thomas, which is also down there someplace, I changed my mind about going to the Olympics. I decided to get my information about it another way, and then write authoritatively about what’s going on down there, as if I actually know what I’m talking about.
This is not all that much of a stretch for me. Although it may come as a shock to many of my loyal readers, I don’t know everything. Often I write about stuff I know absolutely nothing about. When I need facts, I usually just make them up, or ask my wife. It saves a lot of time.
One time, I was supposed to write a review of a play, a production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Jocelynn and I had trouble finding the theater and got there late, and they wouldn’t let us in until halftime, or intermission, or whatever they call it. She asked, “How can you write a review of the play when you missed the first half?”, which I thought was a silly question. The first line of my review was, “The second half of the play was by far my favorite part.” Turns out the butler did it anyway.
Besides, a lot of people get pretty much all their information about the political situation in America by scrolling Facebook and reading tweets from people they agree with, or from watching Jon Stewart on television. So I decided to get my information about the Olympics in Rio from reading columns written by my friend, Dave Barry, who happens to be attending the games in person with his family. This way, I don’t even have to make up facts; I can just use the facts Dave makes up. It’s a win-win.
Truthfully, Dave and I are not what you would call ‘friends’ in the traditional, accepted, normal way you think of friends. We don’t talk a lot, or at all, and we never hang out except on rare occasions. Very rare. Actually, I only met Dave once, when he spoke at a college in Conway, Arkansas a few years ago. I’m taller than he is.
But I think Dave and I could be friends, if we spent any time together, since we both like to make fun of stuff. Plus, we’re both famous, although no one knows I’m famous. So we have a lot in common.
Dave is experiencing a lot of the same problems I’m sure I would experience if I went to Rio for the Olympics. First off, there’s the language barrier. The common misconception around here is that pretty much everyone who lives south of the Rio Grande speaks Spanish, but in Brazil they speak Portugal, or something. So, in order to communicate with the locals, Dave is having to do what I do when I go to Mexico. Talk in capital letters and wave your arms around.
Another problem is transportation. The Olympic games are evidently not held all in one spot, like a big track meet. The various venues are scattered all over the place, some as far away as Phoenix. And you can’t just walk around in Rio, what with all the crime going on, or else you’ll end up as a statistic in Portuguese.
So spectators have to try to figure out what event they want to watch, find out where the event is, and then attempt to convey this to a taxi driver. The language barrier is bad, but then there’s the Rio traffic, negotiation of which is apparently like trying to get into the restroom at halftime at an Aggies football game.
As if all that weren’t enough, the Rio Olympics is plagued with mysterious occurrences, such as the water turning green in one of the diving pools. And no one can figure out why. Well, that’s all I got to say about that.
Oh, and four of the American swimmers were robbed at gunpoint by Brazilians with badges posing as police officers. Or maybe they were Brazilian police officers posing as robbers. Either way, it’s nice to know our representatives are engaging in international relations that enrich the local populace at the games.
All this could have been avoided by holding the Olympics in Texas this year. That way I could have covered the games personally, and anyone trying to rob the competitors would probably find themselves at the business end of a bullhide boot.
Plus, I’d be able to help Dave find his way around. The only thing that would still be a problem would be the language barrier . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker whose Portugal is almost as good as his Spanish. Write to him at [email protected].