The Second Leisure Olympics began, appropriately enough, with a blank sign. It had originally been marked with words (white gaffer’s tape on black cotton), but the letters decided they didn’t want to be letters. They didn’t want to be corralled into meaning-making, they didn’t want to pin anything down, they didn’t want to work. So the letters fell off. They relaxed.
Things, of course, went smoothly off the rails after that. We didn’t get to half the sports (Slothathon slumbers on). Our medal ceremony music (10 versions of “Ode to Joy”) sputtered. At some point we ran out of beer. By then, though, we were already doing our best to imitate the ex-letters. We were deep into leisure. And sangria.
That’s not to say that there wasn’t some vigorous activity, and not just in Bocce and Badminton. Brooke Costello certainly should have won gold in Pig. And Chicken. And Killer Slaw. Aviva Rowley should have won gold in capturing the pig jaw.
But who did win gold? The letters now lying in the grass, inert and un-letter-like, might tell me, if they could speak at all, which even fully formed letters cannot really do, that no one cares who won, that the winners and losers are all the same, and that we will all fall into the grass in the end, we will all rest together. But still, even at the Leisure Olympics, we have our gestures toward order and achievement.We made medals after all. Not just any medals. These precious sculptures, images of Winged Victory in Repose, took days of idle time, complicated planning, mixing, molding, and dremeling and then caused Emily to say, “Hmmm. These need a lot more work.” So we had to give some out.
The Badminton champions were Rikard and Brad. They faced a tough early round match against Clara and Mike and then dispatched Matt McClelland and Ed (who won the bronze medal by beating Alexis and Justine) and Matt Nicholas and Steve McClure, who took silver. Rikard and Brad kept cool throughout, Rikard in his Hawaiian shirt and Brad hidden behind dark glasses and in a stylish Leisure Olympics II t-shirt. (Plug: These are still for sale! You too can dress like a gold medalist!)
Over on the Bocce “courts” (i.e., the wherever people decided to play bocce), the champions were Janusz and Steve, who took down Josh Dick and Bryan in the final. Gabe/Dave and Sarah/Scott didn’t bother with a bronze medal match. They must have heard the ex-letters whispering, Why bother? Relax.
Steve, by the way, deserves special plaudits for medaling in three events and for designing the T-shirts (Did I mention the T-shirts? American Apparel, 100% cotton, $20. Support Leisure!). Steve’s third medal was bronze in Stone Skipping, an event which was the keystone of this year’s competition. We lined up on the edge of the lake, the sun beginning its slow descent, the swans paying us no mind. One by one, we flicked and flung stones across the water. The judges paid tribute to style as well as execution. (If I may say so, the judges were excellent, especially me). There was a lot of style. Liesl Schillinger trotted up on her toes and tossed stones like Frisbees. Brooke tried to seduce the judges with the cuteness of his son. There were throws between the legs. There were cartwheels. There were ducks. In the end Scott was the clear champion, combining distance, height and consistency. He achieved three perfect-10s on his last throw. Josh Dick held on, through the sudden death playoffs, for the silver.
Scott also deserves special mention for medaling in Trick with his bocce juggling routine. Clara &c. (human pyramid) and Nichola and Pete (synchronized tongue) also won gold. In fact, everybody who did a trick actually got a gold medal for Trick. This was our final decree: Everybody wins. The relaxing letters, we think, would like this openness. Do a trick, win a medal. Or don’t.
Some final images: