It's a good thing the Olympics are over, because for a two-week period I was starting to exhibit some scary addictive behavior when it came to my television viewing. I sacrificed sleep, ate my meals in front of the television and forced strangers to listen to me talk about the way gymnastics are scored.
The behavior started before the opening ceremonies had even begun. As soon as an issue of Time magazine made me start thinking about the Olympics, I was on my parents' computer watching YouTube videos of past events.
My parents, who are not obsessive about anything and didn't end up watching any of the Olympics, thought I was watching current Olympic events.
"Of course not!" I would snap at them. "Don't you recognize that this is totally the Sydney, Australia, stadium?" Then I forced my dad to watch endless rhythmic gymnastics team event routines with me, until he managed to fake some emergency to get away.
Once the opening ceremonies actually began I was glued to my couch. I get very emotionally involved over athletes and countries that I previously had never heard of, and get a little teary during the parade of nations. At that point my social life, ability to vacuum and take a shower longer than a commercial break ended for me. I watched events ranging from archery to shooting to gymnastics to swimming. I even watched the marathon with my son, Silas, until he fell on the floor with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. I'm pretty sure he was faking it, but I couldn't get up to check since I was waiting to see if the athletes from Kenya were going to break away from the pack.
When I was forced to go to work, I would check the results on my phone. Because of the time delay I would sometimes even check the results while I was in the middle of watching an event. Knowing the ending doesn't ruin it for me — I hate suspense. After all, I'm the kind of person that reads the end of a mystery novel first.
I love watching the Olympics, not for the suspense of who wins, or with any particularly nationalist fervor, but because I love watching the top athletes in the world compete against each other. The hard work they have done, their dedication and their sheer athleticism inspire me. Some stories are more inspiring than others. If you've seen me in the past two weeks, I have probably forced you to listen to me talk about Oscar Pistorius, the runner from South African who runs on two prosthetics. Pistorius is the first amputee to ever compete in the Olympic Games. I've also felt indignant on behalf of the noncheating breast-strokers after another South African athlete, Cameron van der Burgh, admitted to taking extra kicks during his event. His excuse, that "If you're not doing it, you're falling behind" sounded like something my son would say. My son is 8.
Now the Olympics are over for two years until the Winter Games begin.
I feel a little blue, like those people who get a feeling of depression and let-down after Christmas has ended. Now what will I do with my day? I no longer can devote my hours to sitting on the couch, snacking and simultaneously drooling over the male water polo players. On the other hand, two years is probably long enough for me to vacuum, catch up on doing my dishes and learn all the rules behind curling before the 2014 Olympics begin in Sochi, Russia.
But in 2014 I have to remember to take my vacation time during the Olympics, so that this time I really won't miss a thing.
Zoe Abel is pounding the butt imprint out of her couch and scrubbing out the drool. You can contact her at email@example.com.