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Humor May 2018

Social Insecurity

Slip Slidin’ at the Sedentary Senior Winter Olympics

By Michael J. Murphy

This race starts with you, the senior competitor, all decked out in your red, white, and blue pajamas and aerodynamic slippers bursting out of the starting gate or, in this case, gingerly
stepping out the front door.

The XXIII Olympic Winter Games provided an exciting showcase for a new generation of athletes. It seemed as though an even younger star dominated the headlines each day of the Games.

“17-year-old skater performs first quadruple axel three-toed sloth quad Lutz!” “15-year-old snowboarding phenom completes cross-rocket switch Kukla, Fran, Ollie, by golly!” “Four-year-old wins monobob race riding in breadbox!” Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not much.

Receiving far less coverage were the older competitors at the Olympics, like the 50-year-old Canadian curler who said it is his competitiveness that keeps him going.

That’s great, but what about us golden-agers with little hope of ever vying for gold medals? There are probably a lot of other guys like me whose idea of competing is seeing who can grab the last chip in the snack bowl. And I have to admit that I normally associate curling with something that I do on the couch while watching TV.

How about holding international competition specially designed for us seniors? With just a little bit of thought and effort, in the future someone could organize the first Winter Games for Seniors Who Hate Snow.

Granted, I have no chance of ever flying down a mountainside at 70 miles per hour on skis. First of all, there’s no way I’m going to put on a pair of ski boots ever again. Wearing ski boots is like being subjected to the medieval torture device called the foot press which was applied “in order to lacerate the flesh and crush the bones of the foot.”

However, in my Senior Games there could be a challenging variation of this competition which would be held on trash pickup day around the same time the daily mail is delivered.

This race starts with you, the senior competitor, all decked out in your red, white, and blue pajamas and aerodynamic slippers bursting out of the starting gate or, in this case, gingerly stepping out the front door.

What a thrill as you zoom down the Garbage Can and Mail Slalom course, maneuvering short, quick turns around the parked cars in the driveway, clear to the street curb. It’s a lot like downhill skiing except you’re pushing a large garbage can on tiny wheels about the size of quarters through the snow.

After depositing the garbage can on the curb, you perform a graceful pirouette on a patch of ice, drawing concerned glances from passing motorists who appear to be screaming “Look out!” behind closed windows.

Once you manage to get back up on your feet, you glide to the mailbox and grab the usual stack of ads for hearing aids and funeral homes.

Crossing the finish line and safely back in the house, you collapse in the easy chair and resume reading the newspaper. Or, if necessary, you should go directly to the first-aid station to get your reading glasses.

Compared to young folks, I have to admit that I know very little about the Olympic sport called snowboarding which takes place on something called a “half-pipe.”

Similarly, I would bet money that very few of those hotshot teenage snowboarders are familiar with my Senior Winter Games event called snow shoveling which takes place on something called a “sidewalk.”

Let me provide some helpful background knowledge for today’s teenagers. A sidewalk is a strip of cement bordering most yards which provides a relatively safe path for people to perform an ancient form of transportation called “walking.”

Quite often during the winter months, snow will completely cover sidewalks, making them difficult to walk on, thus forcing people to walk in the slippery, icy streets which are very dangerous due to the fact that young knotheads like you are out there driving as though it’s still mid-July. Thus, the Senior Winter Games sport of snow shoveling was born!

Finally, there is the Grocery Store Cart Athlon. Senior competitors push an overflowing grocery cart across the store parking lot to the car through four inches of snow and slush while attempting not to spill boxes of dog and cat treats.

I guess while I’m waiting for someone to organize winter games for us less active seniors, I’ll just have to find other ways to stay connected to sports, like curling up on the couch with my copy of the 2018 Sports Illustrated  swimsuit issue.


Mike Murphy retired after a 35-year teaching and coaching career. He has a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is an Associated Press award-winning columnist.

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