The 2010 Winter Olympics: A ColuMn Special Sports Report

For the past two weeks, the entire planet has been abuzz over the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC.  Now that Bush is out of the White House, the planet is free to celebrate the spirit of competition that unites us all as human beings.  As you, the ColuMn reader, knows all too well, ColuMn strives to deliver the utmost in cutting edge journalistic integrity, be it gritty political reporting, compelling undercover crime exposes, or top level sporting events.

Last year I contacted the Canadian bureau of The Association and ordered them (begged, really, I guess) to procure us tickets to an Olympic event.  Klaus and The Instigator were already on the case and after an arduous and mind-blowingly bureaucratic process, we had tickets to one of the semi-final hockey games.  I was thrilled and packed that day.

Nine months later I hauled that suitcase out of my closet and took a taxi to the Amtrak station in Seattle.  The plan was the meet Klaus and The Instigator at an acquaintance’s house.  Since we didn’t want to spend thousands on a hotel, we were quite grateful to, uh, “Don” for opening up his doors and extending us his hospitality.  If we’d only known what nightmarish events would unfold over the next 17 hours.  If only.

Since the Olympics is a huge terrorist target, understandably extra security measures are enforced.  Why a terrorist would take the Amtrak I cannot begin to guess, but the heightened security was immediately apparent.  Dogs sniffed around, while security officers armed with automatic weapons patrolled the station.  Once aboard the train, a dog was lead through numerous times, always accompanied by the M-16-wielding officer.

The only terrorist on the Amtrak was a man who insisted on clipping his nails in his seat.  This lasted an excrutiating ten minutes.  If this man has any nails left at all, I’d be amazed.  Seriously.  Where do people get off grooming their nails in a public venue?  This has to stop.  These people are every bit as much of a danger to our way of life as Al-Queda.

Public Enemy #1

Once in the Vancouver Amtrak station, we were informed that they would only be unloading one car at a time.  I was anxious to get off and the progress was extremely slow.  I noticed a couple being allowed to disembark early because they had tickets to the USA/Finland game at 12:30.  My tickets were for the Canada/Slovakia game at 6:30, but I was wearing my USA hockey jersey, so I went with it and, while not outright lying, subtly encouraged the train officials to believe I too was going to the earlier game.

Once through Customs (never an easy feat for me — I think I’m on some sort of list), I took the SkyTrain to Burnaby, where Don was waiting in his truck to drive me back to his house, where we would meet up with Klaus and The Instigator.  I was pretty hungry, but Don was in a hurry to get back to watch the early hockey game and I couldn’t really argue.  So to his house we went, where he made me feel at home and I cracked my first Kokanee.

Klaus and The Instigator arrived soon after, and once they settled in we got to the drinks while watching the Women’s Curling Gold Medal game. I may or may not finally understand curling. I guess we’ll see if I remember what I learned when the next Winter Olympics comes along in 2014.

Soon it was time to begin our journey to Canada Hockey Place. We made our way by bus to the Sky Train station that took us within walking distance of the arena. We could have gotten closer, but Don arranged it so we got to see a little bit of the city and really take part in the Olympic experience. It really was awesome.

As we approached the security area that surrounded Canada Hockey Palace, Don pointed out the Inukshuk that lined the shore. He explained that people had begun to build their own inuksuit  and literally hundreds packed the rocky beach. It was an impressive display of spontaneous public art, made all the more wondrous by the simple fact that nobody had knocked them over.

The security check was easy and almost jarringly polite. When my belt set off the metal detector, the security guard asked, “May I have permission to give you a light pat-down, sir?” We were through quickly and made our way into the arena.

We grabbed two beers each (Molson, of course) and made our way to our seats. They were near the back of the arena, but the sightline was still very good.

Originally I was a little disappointed that we didn’t end up with tickets to the USA/Finland game, but that disappointment was minor and brief. I still wore my Team USA sweater. I endured plenty of shots, but surprisingly not insulting or threatening. Of course, everybody was supremely confident in the eventual Gold Metal victory of Canada, so a smattering of Team USA jerseys weren’t seen so much a threat as the minor annoyance of a pesky little brother.

The game finally got underway and we enjoyed 55 minutes of great hockey. As time was ticking away in the closing minutes of the third period, Slovakia scored a goal, bringing the score to 3-2. The last couple of minutes were fast and furious hockey with the outcome in question. The Canadian crowd was on edge. They had no idea what to do if their team was relegated to the Bronze Medal game. The thought hadn’t crossed their collective minds. They couldn’t accept the possibility now. They wouldn’t accept it.

And, as it turned out, they didn’t need to. The final score would stand at Canada 3, Slovakia 2.  Canada would go on to meet the USA team in the Gold Medal game, and defeat the Americans in an OT thriller watched by a record television audience.

But I didn’t know that then. I was sure the US would find some way to pull off the upset. For the moment all any of us could do was look forward to the Gold Medal game we’d all wanted.

Drunk and excited we made our way out into the light rain and hopped on the SkyTrain with too many of our fellow revelers.  Don had pretty much started in on the portion of the evening where he gets loud and obnoxious and we all try to pretend we don’t know him.  When a girl on the bus from the SkyTrain to his house asked me, “So how do you guys know each other?” I stammered and muttered something along the lines of, “Well, we don’t really know each other that well,” and slunk even lower in my seat.

Finally we arrived back at Don’s house and cracked some more beers.  Don grew more and more obnoxious, cornering The Instigator in one of his patented unintelligible conversations and basically creeping everybody the fuck out.  Mercifully, despite the fact that he had no more to drink than the rest of us, he passed out on his sofa shockingly early.  Enjoying the brief respite, Team Association decided to try to put the uncomfortableness behind us and continue partying.

About an hour later, the three of us were standing in Don’s kitchen, sipping drinks, listening to music, and enjoying ourselves.  Out of the corner of my eye I spotted movement on the sofa.  Don was stirring.  Eyes still closed, he drunkenly rose up off the sofa.  I put forth a tentative, “Hi, Don,” to which he did not respond.  In lieu of response, and in front of our horrified eyes, Don reached deep down into his jeans.  The thoughts raced through my head as my brain tried to find some reason in the madness unfolding before me.  Did he have an itch?  Was it some sort of elaborate game of charades?  Should I shout out my guess of The Crying Game?

But no.  It was none of these things.  Out flopped Don’s dick and he began to urinate on his coffee table.  The very table that I had eaten nachos off of mere hours earlier.  Klaus sprang into action, tackling the pissing madman and violently dragging him into the bathroom.  But the damage had been done.   The, uh, cat was out of the bag.

The rest of the evening was spent in near-silent disbelief at what we had been forced to witness.  It would be bad enough if this was an isolated piss-related incident, but sadly it was not.  Don had pissed on plenty of things (and people) in the past in his typical state of drunken stupor.  But this was the first time I had been present for it.

For a minute there, I really wished I could trade places with this guy.

We finally shuffled off to “bed” (I actually spent most of the night in a chair) after I changed my reservation to leave early the next morning.  Around 5:30, Don re-emerged from his alcohol-induced coma, turned on the lights, grabbed a fresh beer, and loudly announced that he was ready to continue partying.  We were not, and after a few angry words were exchanged, I carefully crashed in the back bedroom while Don rocked out to music videos on his computer.

The return trip home was difficult, hungover with almost no sleep (and on the bus to top it off).  The bus was nice though, more a tour bus than a Greyhound, and I grabbed a front seat and got to “enjoy” the trip home wihout somebody sitting next to me.

It had been a whirlwind trip.  It had been great to see The Instigator and Klaus again.  It had been awesome to attend a Team Canada hockey game during the Vancouver Olympics.  The city, the people, and the experience won’t soon be forgotten.  The only downside was Don, and a huge downside it was, but I had learned a valuable lesson: rock out with your cock out is just a dumb saying and never intended to be taken literally.  If I had it to do over again, I’d cough up the cash for a hotel and leave the waterworks where they belong.  In the toilet.

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