Tuesday, August 9, 2016

nailed it

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?
She was SO flamboyant. And fast. I remember her hair, jewelry and those clawlike nails. She stood out in the crowd of sprinters, heck, of any athletes. I wondered how she did everyday things like dial a phone or wash dishes or sort laundry with those fingernails. How long do your nails have to be before they curl over like that? Do they get brittle? Gross-looking? Is that why she had to paint them?

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?


  1. We got fully sucked into the men's synchronized diving last night - those suits! The dives! Holy cow that's cool. And of course, Steele Johnson. While watching the swimming last night, I got to tell my girl all my Rowdy Gaines stories, since he went to Auburn and lived in the same house as my bff's brother did a few years later.

    We've discovered the Olympics app on the roku, so my husband has made sure we've watched rubgy, tennis and table tennis, which is far more interesting then we realized.

  2. The nails ARE amazing! I first noticed it with the swimmers, but you're right - it's all women in all sports. I guess when you are told what to wear and there's a certain way you have to wear your hair, nails are kind of what's left. More power to them.

  3. I hadn't even noticed the nails! But then, all I've seen so far is the crazy-fast bicycling (with those awful crashes) and some swimming. I'm terrible at watching television.
    Thanks to the Olympics this year, I have learned that Copacabana is a beach and not just a song by Barry Manilow. (Good thing, too, because he's done too much botox and other facial "helps.")

  4. PS: I try to keep my toenails painted because I go barefoot so often and it distracts from my ugly toes and toenails, but I didn't even have my nails done for the wedding.

  5. Flo Jo's nails….ooof. Not my THING indeed!

  6. I've not noticed the nails and those on FloJo are just gross. My nails naturally grow long, but they are a menace when keyboarding, etc. If I do polish them, it's a transparent sort of light pink....although as a transplanted southern girl, I do keep the toes painted red or dark pink because flipflop season here is looooong.

    I've been watching rugby 7s, cycling (yay, Sparticus! A gold medal for retirement) and women's field hockey. Of course, I will watch wrestling and hope for my fellow Husker alum Jordan Burroughs to win his second gold medal. I used to actually know some of the wrestlers who were competing, but now of course I'm old so it's just 2 of the coaches that I once knew back in the day.

    I enjoy the winter Olympics more than the summer games and I figured out that it's probably because I am not a fan of watching people race. Swimming and track & field (did you know it's called "Athletics" when you buy tickets--I only know that because we had the games here in Atlanta and we had tickets for 2 sessions) dominate the coverages and it's just race after race after race.

    The London games were really the first ones that I watched since we had them here in Atlanta in 1996. They lose their mystique when you have them where you live, I think. These Rio games are the ones that Chicago really wanted--just think, we'd be talking about which events we'd be seeing in person if things had gone their way. Even so, we'd have to watch gymnastics on TV no matter what. Toughest ticket, hands down.

  7. I haven't watched any of these Olympics, mainly because we don't have network TV and I've been wicked busy with work. I would enjoy watching the swimming and the gymnastics. I did see a short amusing video of Michael Phelps pouting. But he won! Several times! So he can pout before his event if he wants to. I would make a face too if I knew that global TV cameras were aimed at me.

    Those nails give me the creeps! I have piano-player nails - clipped very short, all the time.

  8. I'm loving the women's gymnastics. I'm loving the great "firsts" like Simone Manuel's medal. As for cupping, I recognized it from a staff development session when we learned about traditional Southeast Asian medicine. We needed to know the difference between cupping, coining (another procedure), vs. abuse or neglect.
    Fascinating, seeing how an old medical treatment can resurface as a method to gain an edge in athletics.

  9. Gosh, those bike races nearly killed me!
    Today we patiently await TRAMPOLINE.

  10. How do people even function with nails like those? I wouldn't be able to tie my shoes much less type out an email.

  11. I liked looking at the male swimmers. Ahem. Diving is fun. Gymnastics makes me nervous. Short running races. And handball. I've never watched that until tonight. It looked rather fun. And I did see a long fingernail on a male runner. Just one. The rest cut short.

  12. I haven't watched any of the Olympics. We don't have any TV access --no networks, no cable. But there isn't anyone who lives here who's interested in sports, so it's okay. I have been keeping track of some the news stories --mostly the insanely sexist coverage! Hopefully those reporters have learned a thing or two!

    Nails. With a girl, I have encountered the whole manicure thing. Like you, I keep my nails short and they drive me nuts if they get even a tiny bit long. But Emma has been invited to on "mani-pedi" girls outings by a friend who has her nails done every week? or so? This was when she was younger. But luckily, she actually prefers to keep her nails short now that playing the guitar is a regular part of her life. That stuff is expensive!


Spill it, reader.