It's all Olympics all the time these days. Our house is mad for swimming and gymnastics mostly, but Mr. G is chomping at the bit for the track and field events. Rugby's an exciting addition and who doesn't enjoy cycling? That was a nail-biter finish for the American women's team. I'm always inspired by the athletes' accomplishments and stories. It's awesome to watch people compete at such a high level. Then I dive in our pool and swim my own laps, my form sluggish and awkward by comparison. My backstroke is solid however, and it's easy to imagine how gracefully I cut through the water when I'm not keeping water out of my nose. (My butterfly stroke, on the other hand, looks tragic and causes Team Testosterone to ask if I need help getting out of the water.)
I swam through my childhood. It was a good sport for a young asthmatic. The humid environment of a YMCA swimming pool kept my lungs from closing up and I got to stay active. Before one of our last family moves (from big city to small town before 9th grade) I even got a taste of a swim meet--I swam the backstroke and took 2nd place in the race. Then my family moved to a place without a swim team or a pool. We lived on a lake, so I took to swimming across the seaweed and bluegills instead of in a roped off lane with painted lines beneath the chlorinated water. Our neighbor was an older woman who swam daily in the summer. I remember her getting in the lake, her skin very tan against her white suit and swim cap over her bleached blonde hair. Char was in fabulous shape, a testament to the sport.
Two other trends I'm paying attention to in this Olympics: the cup marks and the fingernails. This is the first time I've noticed "cupping" even though I've heard of it. I wonder if it's a fad or if there's something to it.
But mostly I'm transfixed by those fingernails. All the athletes have funky manicures, even the ones from poor countries have bright designs on their fingertips. I haven't had a manicure since the day before my wedding two decades ago. I keep my nails cut short, they irritate the hell out of me when they get a millimeter too long. When did nail polish become the standard? I remember when people only painted their nails for special occasions, and most women painted their own. My grandmother was fond of a dusty mauve shade on her nails, my college pal who went on to become a nail artist painted her nails "Whore Red," "Whore Pink" or "Whore Purple" depending on her mood. But most people didn't really paint their nails much when I was younger.
As far as Olympic nails, the only person I remember making a fashion statement with her hands was the champion sprinter Flo-Jo--remember her?
But now the nail-painting is the norm. When did this change? Why? I'm fascinated and I watch each event distracted by the fingernails, looking for the paint job, appreciating how it expresses each athlete's individuality and spirit and nationalism. The next time I sit down to watch women's gymnastics I'll mentally supplement the commentary about their routines' difficulty and form. The Russian judge gave it a 7.965, taking that tenth of a point off for that extra step. I like how the colors on her nails match her leotard. Look at how she keeps her feet together the precision of each turn. Look how the glitter in the nail polish sparkles, too! Here's a difficult combination, even accomplished athletes never attempt a triple handspring on the floor, let alone a balance beam three feet in the air. Ah, she's got a contrasting design on her ring finger. Nice touch. There's the buzzer, time's running short. She stuck the landing! Nailed it! Team USA continuing to dominate this event!
You can read more exhaustive coverage on Olympic manicures here.
Spill it, reader. Do you watch Rio 2016? What's your favorite event? Are you stuck on the nails, like me? Or are you just swooning over the Brazilian men's gymnastics team?