I kept forgetting that the Winter Olympics were going to happen this month until they started on Thursday night, at which point I immediately made my husband switch to the CBC. Men’s figure skating was on, and as I stared, entranced, at that unitard-wearing athlete gliding, jumping, and spinning across the screen, I realized that, no different from every year the Olympics are held, I’ll spend every spare moment for the next few weeks watching sports, many of which I don’t care about and/or have never even heard of.
Despite having (much) more free time than I used to, I try not to watch Netflix, etc., during the day unless I’m going through a particularly hard patch and need to force myself to rest. I’m willing, however, to make an exception to this arbitrary rule for the Olympics, perhaps because throughout my childhood, my parents always made an exception to their (not as arbitrary) TV-related decree for this every-two-years event: while the old television set that we owned lived in the back of a closet and was usually retrieved only periodically, when we rented a VHS player, Mom and Dad always paid for cable for the duration of the Olympics so that we could binge-watch them as a family. This is how I learned that high-level sports aren’t just something that people get rich playing: they can reinforce a sense of patriotism and, paradoxically, lead to greater friendship and respect between citizens of different nations—if only temporarily. It’s also how I learned that I really, really like TV, but that’s beside the point.
So if I take too long to respond to text messages, e-mails, and phone calls for the next while, it’s probably because people are sliding down chutes of ice on the other side of the world. If I look more tired than usual, it’s because I stayed up later than normal last night watching snowboarders perform feats that I wouldn’t attempt even in video games. In a couple of weeks, I’ll go back to not caring about sports; in the meantime, though, I’m taking a semibreak from reality, bickering (in the friendliest of manners) with my husband about whom he should cheer for the hardest as an American-Canadian, and experiencing a marked boost in my already-high pride in the Great White North.