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The Observer, Feb. 18

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Listen, Snow… I've been meaning to talk to you about something. We've had some great times over the years. Remember the thing with the sled and the thing? Yeah, I'm laughing just thinking about it. What a day!

But what I wanted to say is: This time, you really hurt me. Literally: you hurt me ? I've got bruises to prove it. No, you can't see them. They're in a delicate area.

Given that, I think it's best if we stayed apart for awhile ? sort of a trial separation. Try to look on the bright side: It's your chance to see other people and/or weather events.

No! I'm not saying FOREVER! Just a couple of years or so, then maybe we'll see how we feel about things. Two years. Maybe three.

Hey now! Don't cry. There's no reason for tears. I have it on good authority that there are plenty of people up North who'd love to see you, and they've got the equipment, driving skill and clothing to show you a much better time than we ever could.

No, it's not that. It's not that either.

It's not you. It's me.


The other day, The Observer was doing a little research on a rather obscure legal issue when we ran across the following gem, posted at a site where people can write in and get a little lawyerin' free of charge. “I have read,” wrote the writer, “that expungement or record-sealing restores all civil liberties. Does that include the legal right to own a fireman for sporting purposes and home defense?”

For the record: Nothing makes The Observer feel more at ease than having our personal fireman close at hand.


Smallish and attractive young ladies flying through the air, not overdressed, is the kind of thing The Observer can appreciate, as we discovered the other day at a University of Arkansas gymnastics match in Fayetteville. (Is “match” the right word? New to gymnastics fandom, The Observer doesn't have all the terminology down yet.)

We'd seen a few gymnasts on TV, usually during the Olympics ? Mary Lou Retton comes to mind ? but this was our first exposure to live competition. The U of A, ranked seventh in the nation at the time, confronted Auburn University, who was ranked sixteenth. Somewhere there are male gymnasts, we know, but the programs at these two institutions are exclusively female. This did not lessen The Observer's enjoyment.

The vaulting Razorbacks' home matches are held in Barnhill Arena. A crowd of two or three thousand was on hand, and, unlike The Observer, most of them seemed familiar with the sport and the team, sometimes referring to individual competitors by their first names. The introduction of the Razorback gymnasts is like the introduction of Razorback basketball players ? there's a lot of light and smoke and applause, and they come running out one at a time as their names are called. They're practically all from out of state ? Eugene, Ore.; Ringwood, N.J., etc. ? since few Arkansas high schools field gymnastics teams. A young woman from Springdale was the only Arkansan on the squad.

A number of grade-school girls were in attendance, probably dreaming of a day when they'll be performing to the cheers of the crowd. The Observer wondered if their parents would approve. Gymnastics is demanding, dangerous and expensive. But the kind of girls who want to be gymnasts are the kind of girls who are hard to dissuade, one imagines.

The Observer was occasionally diverted by a group of young men on the front row of the grandstand, an organized cheering section. They stood throughout the game, yelled support, and engaged in synchronized dance routines when the pep band played. Eventually, they took off their shirts and revealed the names of Razorback gymnasts painted on their bodies: Nagashima, Magee, Pisani. The Observer wondered if they were boyfriends of the gymnasts. More likely wanna-bes, we decided.

But mostly, we watched the athletes, who were pretty amazing, somersaulting high above the floor, swinging on bars like trapezists and occasionally letting go of one bar so they could grab another in mid-air. A small mistake, and a person could be badly hurt doing this, The Observer thought. Nobody was. The Razorbacks won, and moved up in the rankings.

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