Special Olympics scandal… Received the coming week’s Sports Illustrated this Wednesday, 17th October 2007, & read the front newsbriefs with more interest than usual. Why, particularly? There was a featured article about a “renegade” Special Olympics coach & organizer in Texas who is leading his charges not just to participate, but to compete, to try to be the best athletes (not just the best coginitively-disabled participants) they can be. & yes, sometimes, he finds it beneficial for them to trash-talk.

Now, why this is news, why Special Olympics officials in Texas would find this not just off-putting, but punishable, is beyond me. Did the Special Olympics not just face the dilemma of the Farrelly Brothers’s “The Ringer”? Further, did they not make the choice to put the S.O. brand on the film, with minders from the organization overseeing filming & ensuring a fair treatment of differently-abled (but certainly not unabled) athletes & actors? & did the film not feature, in the foil for Johnny Knoxville’s fake-disabled protagonist a character (“Jimmy Robinson”) who was a trash-talking Special Olympics sprinter?

Really, this rehash in Texas strikes me as a dead letter. I find favour with the “renegade” coach — among whose players is his sixteen years old mentally-handicapped son — & see nothing but animus for the disabled, who are sometimes the detractors’s own children, among those opposing the coach’s effort. To that end, two quotes stick out for me, one from the coach (since banned from competition) & another from one of his opponents:

 “Don’t tell me that special-needs kids don’t realize what they’re wearing”, said Steve Fleming, with respect to the matching, well-made kits in which his players are dressed, as opposed to the odds n’ sods cast-offs typically supplied to Special Olympians (& the handicapped in general).

 (I have been having this same thought for years, having seen the majority of the mentally-handicapped to cross my path outfitted in mismatched sweat-suits & sporting mullets, bad teeth, & Coke bottle glasses.)

“Some parents just can’t accept that their child isn’t going to be normal, no matter what kind of fancy uniforms you dress them in”, responded Vicki Griffin.

(The scorn for her own disabled child practically drips from the page. & while I feel some empathy for her, knowing that she knows that after she’s dead, no one will love her child as she has, to admit that she considers the disabled to be other than normal, & always to be that way, defies the mission of the Special Olympics. As the Shrivers intended, these games, & other events for the disabled, are intended as normative experiences that will demonstrate that the physically-handicapped & mentally-retarded aren’t perpetual human cripples that can never be expected to be more than fed thru one tube & have their waste excreted thru another tube. Clearly, though, Ms Griffin never got the message.)

Again, I really don’t see the issue with Fleming’s method. I also saw no one forcing the kids to play only for him. Other parents would have been free to withdraw their children from Fleming’s teams (he coached basketball, golf, & soccer) & place them on other teams. But because Fleming contravened the duality of loving & scorning one’s disabled kids, he had to be sent off.

The Romanian Villa… Upward of four years ago, I was on the verge of my departure from the lovely Otopeni International, & staying at the Corpul Pacii Romania recommended Elvis’s Villa for my final four (five?) days in-country. On or about the third day there, I developed a raging case of hiccups — as in my wont; when I hiccup, or bleed (from the nose), I take it “to eleven” — & the wife of Elvis (the hosteller’s name was, in fact, Elvis; he was also Serbian, & those eastern & southern Europeans love 1950s American rock n’ roll) grabbed me about the right flank, in a pinching manoeuvre. Sure enough, too, it terminated my hiccupping. (Two p’s, there?) & ever since, I have exacted similar effort to alleviate my more profoundly-incurred cases of hiccups. Usually, this involves a punch to my face, but what can I say; I love the sport of kings.

Anyhow, as well as “curing” my own hiccupping with face punching, I have twice — in the last year, in fact — employed Elvis’s wife’s technique. The first, I was at work, in the “kitchen” of the movie-theatre where I moonlight, & the crew lead, Kiara, bemoaned her hiccup jag. Consequently, I rached my thumb & index finger to her bicep (is that the upper-arm?) & pinched her. She was startled, but smiled — her hiccups dissipated, so all was well. It was nothing untoward. (That word used in more the vernacular, e.g. sexualized, sense, of the modern-age.)

 Now, last nite, I used the Priscillian Pinch (see, Elvis Presley’s wife was named… oh, yeah, never mind; you get it, & it’s not funny) on one of the denizens of the pub quiz that I frequent, & while she was nonplussed — quite possibly stunned into stupefaction (to borrow from my twelfth grade Spanish profesor, “Hay dos ejercitos. Uno de la ignorancia, y otro de la estupidez. Puedo excusar ignorancia, porque nunca lo saberia…”) — she did not show visible irritation. Plus, I have a rep at the pub quiz — as I have had at most social gatherings, from an early age — for impertinence, though not necessarily out of malice but naievete. Little did I know, though…

 The female recipient of the Hosteller’s Wife’s Cure maligned me to her boyfriend — a strapping, late twenties JD, though he also reminds me of Brian C., an acquaintance of mine from Peace Corps, but minus eighty or ninety pounds (that’s about one Nicole Richie, no?) — & he proceeded to defend his dame’s honour by approaching me diffidently, & instructing me “not to touch his girlfriend, again…”

 As well, yes, I got his drift. I had assaulted her person, with nefarious objective, & done so with a blithe smile as though I thought what I was doing was wrong, but so right, & that I could get away with “it” & much worse. Yes, indeed, such is the proper description of the event that precipitated the dashing man-of-law’s daring-do. Indeed.

 Now, though, I have to wonder: why just, in a rather Oxfordian, daresay I prissy, manner inform me that I am a vile, handsy bastard who needs to show some respect. If what I did were so reprehensible, so obviously c-blocking (“no, Mc Elroy, we should be guiding his cock, not blocking it”, the bartender should have offered, to me, upon entering the scene of my undressing by the dutiful beau of the damsel whose hiccups cessation was my sole objective, albeit in an obtuse way), why wasn’t I asked to leave the bar? Why weren’t the services of an higher authority than a dashing Grishamite hero sought?

Or were they? Were I on the cusp of bannination from the English pub? I must know. I have a feeling I were, & by asking the question above, I will find out just how. But really, if it should have come to that, I really wish it would have; I really do. In that case, then, once more the stridence of others, & their heavy hand, would be fully visible. & unlike in my senior year (at college, not high-school; that said, Prof. Graham was much more a stick-in-the-mud than the seeming fuddy-duddy Sr. Christie, which is precisely the opposite of what one expects from America’s draconian high-school settings & libertine university campii) creative writing section, I would not have had to become strident myself to demonstrate the rigid aspect of the cool kids. Not so free-wheeling & convivial, eh? & over a Serbo-Austral-Romanian hiccups remedy?

Oh, you hipper than thou people of the posh East side (that wording, at the end, goes out to you, Dad) — & really, I should have known, after a mix of contempt, gall, & fear for my safety from snipers was expressed after it was learnt that I live in Wauwatosa (really!) — can engage in your incestuous East Side-Third Ward-Bay View circle-jerk, but oh, doctor… Don’t let the fools from west of Sixth Street (or north of Shorewood (even if many of the Milwaukee East Side, etc., Intelligentsia are the rich kids from Fox Point, & such, & just “slumming it” for a few years, while in college/grad school)) think that they can be frivolous with us. Never!

Neighbourhood family first, second, & third, & all other ordinal numerations — ’cause in your East Side family, the art-fag brother is accepted, the vegetarianism encouraged, the Arcade Fire required. (Unlike in those redneck hamlets like ‘Stallis & Brown Deer, & Cudahy (scratch that, it’s just south of Bay View, & is being adopted by the hipsters), & Hales Corners. Indeed.) Oh, you’re so open-minded.

et cetera