Pan Am Fun and Pan Am Games: Day 5

(July 11th)  I finally made it to an event with Canadian athletes, and all I ever saw was their feet. Some call it synchro, some call Rex Ryan and tell him to turn on his TV, but I call it underrated. Sure, there’s lots of make-up and more one-piece sequin suits than Richard Simmons’ closet, but the skill was incredible - especially from the Canadians today who won gold just twenty feet away from me, which is approximately what I watched; twenty feet, away from me.

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Ok, I guess there were some hands too, but that's how most things start isn't it...?

For the record, I don’t watermark these images as a business thing, I do it because I’ve seen them turning up in odd places, much like myself in undergrad - oh how I miss Sunday mornings. (Technically I would go to church, but only because I was stumbling down the street squinty-eyed and willing to do anything for bread and water, even if it was holy and I had to sell my soul for it...the perk of being raised Anglican was that I also got some hair-of-the-dog to wash it down - and confession? hah! sorry Catholics, but that stays between me, the hookers and the blow.)

Oops.. and Wordpress.

Anyway, the downside of the aquatics centre was that it was about an hour away on transit. The upside was getting an hour of story time with the guy next to me drinking Popper’s Hard Ice and reminiscing about his time in Ottawa playing the organ and dodging debt collectors. We then weighed the pros and cons of buying a new or used distortion box for his organ. It was a potential savings of $15 four Hard Ice tall boys, so serious debate was vital. We came to a mutual agreement on his best option for balanced auditory, financial, and alcoholic outcomes. He said he’s stick to it, so I’m taking him on his word.

Looking back, I’m not entirely sure that man was a musician.

I’ve had several people ask me for advice before on whether or not a certain box was worth pursuing for their organ.

Luckily my advice worked for both situations; I based it the frequency of their solos.

Cue the outro. See you tomorrow.

Pan Am Fun and Pan Am Games: Day 4

First thing this morning I got a free upgrade to my coffee. Second thing this morning I was told I owed them another two dollars. Third thing this morning I cried. They gave me no warning, just a friendly question essentially asking if I wanted a normal Boring Brew or a Dark-Roasted Orgasm. Which would you pick? I was told they use a special Clover machine that digitally controls the temperature and pneumatically sucks the money out of your wallet. The worst part was that it tasted so damn good. I don’t know if I told myself that to justify my subservience, or because it actually made my underpants go from tall to venti. Either way I’ll just let it slide and next time I’ll be sure to ask up front whether or not it will be more expensive for my bank and expansive for my dank.

I was hoping to save half the drink for later since it was so potent but we ended up not going back to the hotel afterwards and I needed my hands on the camera, so I had to down the whole thing right away. Within thirty minutes I was so shaky and jazzed that if I held a pickle I’d have to charge it for a happy ending.

We headed for a little side-event down the street for some of the volunteers and corporate folks and I managed to control my case of the shakes for a few minutes while Lights played:

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Photo 2015-07-10, 11 07 44 AMI wasn't not turned on. But that was because of the magical coffee from earlier, so this just made things worse. When she looked at me all I could do was try to mouth the words "no no, it's just a tripod."

After the show we grabbed some all-day breakfast and headed back for a meeting and a session on the erg. Surprisingly, no one wanted in on the workout part. So it was just me, the erg, and a few concerned hotel guests who thought they heard bulls having sex in the gym.

I was just about to start my cool down when I got a text saying we had to leave for the next event in fifteen minutes, so I ran to my room and had the coldest ninety second shower possible. As I was getting dressed I received another text saying that it was a more formal event than originally suggested, requiring dress pants, long sleeves, and … good lord … no hats. I was devastated. The sweat still hadn’t stopped and now it was getting worse. I get my hair from the Greek side of the family and I didn’t bring anything goop-related to tame it when it was unleashed from a hat into the humidity of TorontFro. I just had to hope for the best as I rushed out of the hotel, that maybe when it dried it would just know what to do. But like the end of a dirty movie, it went everywhere.

My heart rate was still over 150 until about three ice cold drinks and an hour into the event. And then I realized the sauce on the hors d’oeuvres was sriracha. Gee willickers, Batman, this kid's having a tough day.

Sweat: everywhere. Heart rate: climbing. Simon Whitfield: rather frightened.

I somehow survived my blackout condition for another hour until we headed to the opening ceremonies. I was worried I would be walking in circles, confused and delirious, but it turned out Charmaine Crooks had that covered. The third leg of the relay turned into a leg and an arm while she searched for her teammate and then stopped for a look-around when the journey became suspiciously lengthy. It was like watching over someone’s shoulder while they play Pac-Man at an arcade and you just know that ghost is gonna eat him and there’s nothing you can to but cringe.

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All in all the ceremonies were amazing. Cirque du soleil left me speechless, no one at the podium could speak french, and near the end someone's south american grandpa wandered onto the stage and we all used his full twenty minutes to guess which language he was speaking. Autopsy reports of the audience suggest they died listening to broken english.

So that's that. The Games are officially on.

There were a few more hours left in my night, but since my good man Eric thinks these posts are too long, I'll leave it at that.

Hope you made it to the end buddy.

Pan Am Fun and Pan Am Games: Day 3

Morning practice and mosquito mayhem.

My uncle Spiro used to call me kounoupi, which is Greek for mosquito, so I imagine that's why I was such a target for them on the docks this morning. I guess that's the price you pay for flat water. And it must be some sort of training technique; kind of like blood doping, but they're sure taking a long time to bring that high-red-cell goodness back to me. I think I got ripped off. But as Monty Python would suggest, always look on the bright side of life, and in this case it's that next time I'm schmoozing with the rich businessmen in the hotel bar I too can say that I got sucked dry on a boat in the wee hours of the morning.

Now I have about 30 bites on me, including 29 from mosquitos and one from my double partner who wasn’t too keen on constructive criticism. Luckily I play well with others, even when pulling 4x2k time trials moments after shaking hands for the first time and learning that he’s been rowing for about as long as the average queue in a Wal-Mart check-out. (I couldn’t be rude and avoid the handshake so I decided to just turn my hand over to hide the fact that I’d accidentally rested it in goose turd.)

Since I didn't scope out the venue before I joined, I missed a few details, like the lack of running water. And by the end of practice my mouth was as dry as a Hugh Grant quip. I forgot my bottle at home and during the sprints I felt like, and probably looked like someone’s grandpa eating sour grapes without his dentures in. Luckily (or unluckily) for me, they club is of town for a regatta this weekend so I can saturate with hotel water and avoid all the traffic. But, the gods of torture did put a rower in the hotel gym so I have that to look forward to. Plus it’s a different model than usual (nerds: Concept II Model E), so it sits about twice as high off the ground and feels like you’re riding a horse but doing all the work. Knowing I’ll be doing Concept II Equestrian all weekend is a little daunting, but it’s unhealthy to go about your day without a minor sense of dread.

Accordingly, the hotel fire alarm is going off and we’re being told to stay in our rooms with a mere 26 flights of stairs between death and safety when they finally tell us the blaze is nigh, so that’s my dread for the day, no need to throw an erg workout in there too.

I blame Greivis Vasquez for being careless with his torch carrying:

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Two hands on the torch! Since I - incoming understatement – “know very little about professional sports,” I had to get someone to explain to me that he's a basketball player and former Raptor. Personally, I think he looks better as a human being. He morphed way more cleanly than Chris Bosh, who is clearly still a dinosaur.

As a small compensation for the scary moments, we’re sporting our tie-dye shirts today, so I can fearlessly eat messy food - and probably a tab of acid to keep with the theme. My guess is that with my current streak of luck I’ll get all the ketchup and mustard on my white shorts instead of the shirt, and then I'll look down at the shirt and freak out at all the trippy colours.

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Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto. When the acid kicks in your first thought is, whoooaa brother, I wonder if someone gave this city to Ron, but then it went from Ron to someone..but to who?? ToRonTo…Who got the city next! I bet it was the the government mannn.

Mid-afternoon we made a trip to the Athletes’ Village to deliver some kits and see a few teams formally arrive.

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Team USA arrives at the Athletes’ Village.

While I was there I saw two young guys having a very smiley conversation that sounded like it was about nothing (sadly not a Seinfeld script), and then I realized a photographer was outside the window gesturing at to them to look natural for one of those “candid” moments, like in reality shows where they film the surprise at the front door but there’s a camera following them from inside as they answer the door. Suspension of disbelief is for fiction, frick-off-and-wait-for-a-good-moment is for everyone.

After a handful of other meetings and venue visits, I returned to reality and to my bed. So here I am now, trying to sleep but realizing it’s a fruitless effort (see, rowing does apply to life!). Originally I thought my body was too alkaline from that acid tab, but I just realized the thermostat says 82° so I guess I have an AC problem on my hands, like when Zack Morris had a crush on the same girl.

Have a good sleep, Preppy.