Mighty Life List
Apr 14 2009

Meeting Dara Torres

Dara Torres is exhausted. The five-time Olympian was up at dawn doing satellite interviews to promote Big Milk, and her new book. She’s been awake since 4 a.m., answering the same questions repeatedly, and now she’s gamely meeting with us so we can ask them again.

We’re a handful of mom bloggers, most of whom have known each other — or known of each other — for years. We’re talking shop and cracking jokes beside an enormous public pool when Dara emerges. Her swimsuit says “Love 2 Swim” on the front, and there’s a prolonged moment of confusion about how we should greet her. Are we supposed to greet her?

We’re here, courtesy of Hewlett Packard, to observe an Olympic Mom in Action. She’s just like us! With the baby? And the nine Olympic medals? And the muscles that look like they originated in a quarry?

Hewlett Packard believes that we are all women who use technology to simplify our lives, and in this moment we don’t disappoint. We’re pulling out our digital SLRs to photograph Dara, grabbing our phones to Twitter about Dara, but for the most part no one is saying hi to Dara. No one is even making eye contact with Dara. After a few minutes of hopeful glances our way, she finally turns to her handlers. “You just want me to do a couple of laps?”

It occurs to me that this would be a nightmare scenario for me, but Dara is handling it with grace. She is standing alone and exhausted in a swimsuit before a group of women, all of whom are mostly ignoring her while surreptitiously checking out her body.

Her body is accomplished, my friends. Breathtaking.

Of course, the grace has come with practice, Dara has been checked out before. How many of us hang out in our swimsuits on national TV? In the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition? On the pages of Maxim? Dara and I are not from the same planet when it comes to bathing suit nightmares. I’m guessing hers involve more pressing matters than what a bunch of bloggers think about her thighs.

People, her thighs are terrible with power.

She dips one toe in the water and shivers. “It’s cold,” she says, smiling back at us over her shoulder. “I hate it when it’s cold.”

Dara has two smiles, one that’s open and friendly, and another that’s ambiguous, the type of smile that’s particularly confounding to men in their early twenties. The latter suggests that she’s amused, but perhaps only because she thinks you’re full of shit. The overall impression is happy, but skeptical, and so I like her.

She jumps in the water, and swims quietly back and forth. There’s a charming old lady in the pool who calls out, “You’re more beautiful than Esther Williams!” Because this lady is the only one bold enough to approach, Dara jokes with her for quite awhile about exercise and aging, and they mug together, flexing for our cameras. This situation becomes slightly less charming, but much more amusing, when the lady chases Dara into the locker room to ask her increasingly personal questions while she showers. This too, Dara handles gracefully, she seems also to have had practice with fans who have boundary issues.

After the brief swim, Dara leaves with the group for lunch at an upscale sushi restaurant. She asks if there’s fish in one of the rolls. I say, “Crab, I think.” She turns to the next tray. “Are you allergic?” I ask. “I don’t really like fish,” she says. I’m surprised by this, as though spending half your life in water should somehow impart a craving for halibut.

In my few minutes of interview time, I ask what’s left on her life list. She looks perplexed. “What do you mean, life list?” Well, what does she still want to do? She’s an Olympian, an author, are there any smaller things she hasn’t gotten to yet? “You know, someone else asked me this, and I don’t really have a bucket list or anything,” she says. Not even anything little, like having an ice cream with your kid? “Like before I die? That’s kind of morbid,” she laughs. “I mean, I assume I’ll be around for all that stuff. I’m trying to enjoy everything right now, take those things day by day.” Well, you must have goals though, I stutter. “Yeah. Right now, I’m training and swimming for world championships.” Ah! Of course. The swimming. I guess that does count as a goal if you’re an “Olympian” or whatever. I refrain from telling her that I like fruit, and am hoping to one day do a pull up. Maybe another time.

After our interviews, someone asks what kind of T.V. she watches. It turns out Dara is a Rock of Love devotee. Suddenly, any self-consciousness at the table evaporates. There’s little more endearing to a group of bloggers than confessing you like crappy reality TV. Dara Torres is a sister.

Conversation turns to Dancing with the Stars, and she admits she considered joining the cast this season. Dear god. You have to do that, I say. “Tell my agent!” she says, and cuts her chin upward in his direction. “Evan!” He looks up from his phone. “She says I should have done Dancing with the Stars.” “Hey!” he says. “I wanted you to do it. You were the one giving me all that crap about spending time with your kid.” She laughs.

“Can you dance?” I ask. “No.” She says. “I’m terrible. I just didn’t want to get voted off first.” “Nah,” I say. “You’re too America’s Sweetheart for that.”

She grins.

———————–

More of My Photos
And takes from the rest of the crew:
Liz Gumbiner from Mom-101
Dory Devlin for Shine
Alice Bradley from Finslippy
Tracey Gaughran-Perez from Sweetney
Amy of Amalah

Apr 8 2009

Rock Paper Scissors It Is

I’m in New York because Hewlett Packard graciously arranged for a few writers to meet Dara Torres. Which? Rad. Torres is a 41-year-old, five-time Olympic swimmer with nine medals, four of them gold. You may be familiar with her rippling abs?

Yeah, now you’re with me.

Anyway, I was reading through our info sheet and realized we get a few minutes alone with her to ask questions or whatnot. I’m pissed that I didn’t pack a swimsuit, or I would obviously challenge her to a dog paddling competition. So I’m asking you, team, what would you do with three minutes alone with Dara Torres?

Keep it clean, people.

Sep 19 2008

An Expert Opinion

You know how Olympic commentators tell you when someone doesn’t have their toes pointed quite right, or why a particular maneuver is impressive? You start to develop this quasi-expert knowledge of the sports you follow, which you then promptly forget for the next four years.

Wouldn’t it better to have commentators for more quotidian things? Things you could learn that would really have an impact on your quality of life? For example, we could each be assigned a commentator for our early twenties who would follow us around offering insight into our performances:

“This maneuver she’s attempting could be a bit psychologically tough on her, because throughout her dating career, she’s proven to be a nervous talker. Let’s see how she does…

Oh! Oh! Big-time overshare, Bob. That is devastating for her. Let me just explain what happened a bit here, her date did not need to know she’s still having drunken hookups with her ex. Wow! That was out of nowhere.

Whew. That is really gonna cost her.”

Feb 23 2002

Biathalon: Cross-country Ski and Shoot

Context

Him: Don’t we have more guns per capita than any other nation? We are a nation of guns! Why aren’t we taking this event?

Me: Perhaps if the targets bled.

How much for the team?

Him: This would make a great bachelor party

Me: A ski and shoot?

Him: Yeah. They’re all these tight chicks, they’re wearing spandex body suits, and they shoot at shit. That’s way better than some stripper.

Hurry up Helga

The biathalon isn’t exactly a fast-paced sport. They play up-tempo music over the loudspeakers to amp the crowd, but the race is pretty much decided several minutes before it ends. Announcers still have to come up with something to say, and they often don’t speak English as a first language. Highlights:

  • Five minutes before finish: Unless something freaky happens to her on the course, it looks like the German team will take it.
  • Three minutes before finish: If you look at the video board time, then it’s like the Germans are running around with a smile on their lips.
  • One minute before finish (only one competitor is even in sight of the finish line): She’s looking behind her, to see if anyone can beat her. But 33 seconds, it’s too much.
Feb 23 2002

Women’s Hockey, Germany V.S. Kazakstan

After a few beers, rooting for Kazakstan can be very satisfying. When the crowd goes quiet, there’s nothing like the simple, yet elegant, KAZAKSTAN! Or the quintessentially American, GO BIG BLUE! My companion favored, GO FORMER SOCIALIST SOVIET REPUBLIC!
I love hockey.

Feb 23 2002

Men’s Speed Skating 1000M

I have never seen so many clothed naked men in my life. Also, the Korean uniforms make their skaters look like giant cereal boxes.