Sunday, January 20, 2013


in my line of work, there is a list of 'overall expectations' outlined at the onset of any interaction. and then we get a set period of time to make sure that all participants are able to exhibit skills and knowledge that meet those expectations.

for some reason, people seem to have unrealistic expectations of the wrong kind, of the wrong people.

when i was better disciplined at riding a bike, and i was much slower and infrequently a runner, i used to ritualize my time in the kitchen. i would do the dishes so that i didn't have to look at them while i suffered enough as it was. i would clear the counter so that i could put my laptop in front of me in hopes of staving off the boredom. and on that laptop, i would play movies of people riding bikes faster than i ever will. those movies would remind me to go fast. and usually, i would have headphones in, with some kind of music rattling through my mind instead of race coverage in flemish or whatever. one of my favorite movies was lance big six.

i used to love the panache that lance brought to his riding. when i was younger, i had no idea that it had to do with drugs, that it could even be through anything other than all the training and pain i was too afraid to execute. i just thought he was an absolutely amazing rider doing amazing things and it was really fun to be proud of an american doing something i loved to do, and doing it better than the whole wide world. (being american was a hard thing for a lot of my younger days, surrounded as i was by prejudice and small-town mentalities amid chip trucks and ski-doos.)

as i got older, i realized that lance was likely doing a bunch of drugs. he was likely doing the same drugs as everyone else next to whom he was riding, so even though it wasn't just pure hard work and genetic gift, it wasn't like he was racing people who were any different in the drug sense. he was a race horse among race horses, and he was still the best one.

these days, i wonder what it is with all of the lance disappointment. anyone who was into bikes at all already knew/figured/had to admit that lance had probably doped. anyone who grew up and got his/her heart broken, saw a rock star get fat, stopped believing in santa claus, or went to a funeral would share the same mindset. folks, the world is full of humans, and we are flawed, and we are unrealistic, and we love to create myths and burn them down.

i just don't understand why the expectations for lance were different.

yeah, the guy seems like a hypocrite for lying so vehemently and specifically destroying people he knew to be truth-tellers and leading a cause about cancer and basing parts of his character on things he thought to be righteous and holy. but, so what? what do the kardashians think? what about people who have actually done truly bad things to entire national economies? where is bernie madoff? speaking of people who effected massive change in drastically horrible ways, whether celebrity or idol or whatever, how many people felt ripped off by the honesty of (insert name of your preferred war crimes leader here)? why does the sports world purport to be so fed up or put off or tired of or shocked by the admissions of a formerly-great athlete who cheated among a culture and a roster of cheaters? what were the overall expectations?

when i watch things on tv, i expect that they are heavily filtered. there are theatrics in every type of medium (production, is, after all, what makes something available to an audience from an author), and as cognizant adults in a reality of mass participation, we should understand that we are being fed all kinds of stuff, much of it crap. the question is what we make of what we get.

so i watched lance do those things on his bike. he accelerated away from the front of the field and never got caught. he said obnoxious things and backed them up with stomping wins up mountains too steep for cars. i watched fans scream and cheer and get in his way and clap him on the back. i watched him win and win and win. he loved winning. and, as someone who has never won a damn thing, i made a lot for myself out of what i got, watching him win. i made inspirational scenarios in my head to get me through those last few minutes on the trainer. i made better comebacks for any excuse as to why i didn't have to train that day. i made anger turn into power. and i did this watching lance.

i was surprised to hear about lance's interview, and that he admitted to his doping past, but i wasn't devastated. i cared a little more than the headline about the kardashian baby dramas, but not as much as this cool new app for my daughter's typing skills. i expect that famous people are flawed and crazy and mean to other people and subject to the whims and sway of much larger bodies of opinion than i will ever know. i expect that we, as adults, already know this and aren't hold our collective breath for the next round of admissions of faults inherent to our superstars. nobody died. maybe we should remember what's important here.

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