Gaming the System


I consider myself a patient wife open to watching new things on TV – and by new things, I mean sports. Don’t ask me how this happened, but I even learned to watch wrestling before wrestling was mainstream a long, long time ago. Never again! This, of course, was B.D. (Before David.) Since David, I’ve learned to watch and actually enjoy basketball and golf. However, if someone had told me when I was a kid that a fairly large part of my life would be spent watching sports or sports-like entertainment on TV other than The Dallas Cowboys, I wouldn’t have believed them. But here we are. What’s done is done. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, and I suppose it was only a matter of time, but

Curling has taken over our house. I don’t mean hair curling either. If you’re not familiar with the game of curling, it’s all over the Winter Olympics, which managed to sneak up on me this year. One week David and I were watching our many network TV shows (the three NCIS’s; Bull; Chicago-PD, Fire and Med; the Black List, and I’m sure I’m leaving out several others) – and all of a sudden I was hearing at the end of all of my favorite shows, “We will return at the end of February or early March” or whenever it was they said they were gonna be back. Basically, my TV shows that help me get through what is often a very stressful week took a solid, three-week hiatus. That’s a long time. In their place – Winter Olympics. So I thought – Sure. Why the hell not watch the Olympics because whether I liked it or not, that’s what was on. Besides, it’s history in the making. I even got excited enough to watch the opening ceremonies.

Okay, first of all: It wasn’t until the opening ceremonies when I found out the Olympics were being held in PyeonChang. I had no idea where PyeonChang was. I’d never heard of it. David had to explain that it was in South Korea. Huh, and I thought Seoul was the sole city in South Korea (see what I did there?) Anyway, after getting over that fact, I then immediately thought South Korea?!!!! Wasn’t that a little close to North Korea?

I mean, if ever there was a time when a certain Dictator-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named from North Korea, who seems to hate the US and probably most of the world, was tempted to try out his stupid rockets and kill a bunch of people for major impact like he seems to enjoy doing, this would be it. I mean, who in their right mind thought, “Gee, I know what? Let’s tempt fate and hold the Olympics in South Korea this year?”

IOC, really? What were you thinking? I know these host cities are determined years in advance, but surely you have alternate locations just in case – oh, I don’t know – the country that the host city is located in is at war when it’s their time to host or a natural disaster happens that keeps that place from becoming viable or, you know, all of a sudden there’s a vicious dictator who’s been threatening global destruction that’s taken power within spitting distance of said location? Surely, you had an alternate location that was in a little safer city than one in South Korea?!!!!!

David explained that it was okay because the dictator’s sister was attending the Olympics.

That makes it okay?

I suppose the idea is that unnamed dictator wouldn’t stoop low enough to sacrifice a member of his own family in his mad and nefarious plot to obtain world domination! Yeah, I dunno – a certain dead uncle of said dictator might have a little something to say about that – but I guess we’re all playing along like dead uncle never happened and so Dictator-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s sister is there as, presumably, some kind of reassurance – some kind of guarantee that North Korea will play nice for the duration of the Olympics? (And no, I didn’t typo that last question mark) – I’m asking – really, we’re taking the chance that North Korea’s going to be on best behavior and everyone’s going to be safe? But, never mind me, y’all, I tend to score high on tests that measure things like being cautious and safety and not trusting people who act as though I shouldn’t trust them.

Anyway, once I got over the fact that the Olympics were being held in South Korea in PyeonChang (which is not Seoul), I settled in to watch the ceremonies, which were pretty cool – until all of the athletes participating started parading around waving hello. I’m not sure when I got bored enough to fall asleep, but it was before the US athletes had their turn to parade around. I know this because I woke up and said, “When are they going to show the US athletes? Then I got a dirty look from David who had to back the TV up several countries so I could see our group wearing their red, white and blue uniforms waving and smiling. Well, hello there, Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn and everyone else who I’ve never seen or heard of before!

In my defense, I do live in Texas and our idea of winter sports is playing bumper cars out on the occasional icy road – oh, and my favorite winter sport – playing tag with wide-spread, damaging hail! Our cars have been tagged. Our homes have been tagged – woohoo, we’re having fun now! If only having to deal with our insurance company was as amusing.

Okay, in all seriousness, Dallas does have ice hockey and there are indoor ice rinks. I think I watched ice hockey once.

Speaking of things I’ve never seen or heard of before, it was during these opening ceremonies that I found out that there were a lot of countries I’d also never heard of before: Togo, Kyrgyzstan, Eritrea, Andorra, Azerbaijan, San Marino, Moldova, Montenegro, East Timor, Mongolia and OAR. And please don’t ask me to pronounce any of them. As some of you may recall, I’m the one who has trouble saying “poem” and “Marlborough.” So I don’t stand a chance at correctly enunciating most of the names I just listed.

By the way, I had to, again, ask David in confusion, “Who the fuck is OAR?”

Well, it turns out OAR isn’t a country per sebut it’s Russia. Technically, it’s not Russia, but they’re athletes from Russia, and Russia was banned from the Olympics this year, and so their athletes had to be called something. So, a rose is a rose is a rose and OAR is really just Russia in disguise.

Apparently, Russia was banned because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did an extensive investigation and found out that the massive doping problem so many Russian athletes have had in prior Olympics was state-backed! So, yeah, Russia, you were naughty and got caught and now you’re banned this year, except your athletes can still perform – not as Russian athletes, mind you, but as Olympic Athletes from Russia. So no Russian flag was displayed and no Russian anthem was played, except their Men’s Ice Hockey team won Gold and so they sang their anthem in spite of the ban. Because that’s what I want to hear – Russian men ice hockey players sing! That’s so much better than just hearing their anthem. Most importantly, though, no medals for you, Russia – at least not in the official books, anyway! OAR gets credit. So, let this be a lesson.

Vladimir Putin, this is not funny! Calm down! I hear you laughing! No. Stop. Really. This isn’t supposed to be funny. You’re not supposed to laugh when the IOC bans your country from the Olympics. THIS IS SERIOUS! I didn’t even know you had a sense of humor.  Okay, clearly you’re not listening!

Y’all, Putin isn’t listening to me. Somebody else is going to have to make him stop laughing because I just seem to be making him laugh even harder.

Back to curling –

There are some things that warrant intensive research, but this is curling, Wayward Friends, so I’m just going to go with my resident expert, my husband David, who also hasn’t done any research other than trying to figure it out while watching it on TV. David’s official take is that curling is shuffleboard on ice – another game that neither of us knows anything about because some of us have never been on a cruise before. Hint, Hint! (David, my love, I’m talking to you right now! Take the hint and remedy our situation of not having gone on a cruise!) I might be mistaken, of course, because how would I really know for sure, but I believe cruise ships are the only place where shuffleboard is played. I couldn’t tell you where curling is played, but there are a bunch of teams from a lot of countries who competed this year, so they’re playing it somewhere.

Who knew that we’d get so involved in this game that we’d be watching it at 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m, even 4:00 a.m? And by we, of course, I mean David! (And just so you know, at this writing, the US Men’s Curling Team won Gold over Sweden! So, watching paid off and Dilly, Dilly!) Of course, David was recording this as he watched, so I also got to watch a lot of it the next day while David re-watched and sports commentated for me! Yay.

Of course, the Olympics wouldn’t be the Olympics without scandal and this time it involved curling! Because curling has become so hip! Yep, one of those OAR athletes tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs! Okay. STOP!!!!!

This has to be one of the most absurd things I can imagine. Think of bowlers or shuffleboard players taking Performing Enhancing Drugs and that’s kind of what we’re talking about! Curlers don’t need performance enhancing drugs! It’s not that kind of sport! Everyone knows this! Even ignorant people like me who know nothing about curling, know this! Anyway, the OAR athlete in question has his suspicions about who set him up because, of course, he is swearing up and down that he didn’t knowingly take any banned substances – but that’s the problem when your country already has a reputation! Just saying. Anyway, the IOC is supposed to strip him of his bronze medal. But who wants a bronze medal anyway!

But hold on! There wasn’t one but two doping scandals by OAR athletes at this year’s Winter Olympics!


I know it’s wrong of me, but one of the best things that curling has to offer in my opinion is watching the sweepers. Talk about auditioning your little heart out for that top-notch janitorial position! The very best thing, though, is that the officials mike up the players so we can hear them yelling in their native tongues at those stupid, big-ass rocks they slide down to the target area. I know, I’m probably about to lose my p.c. badge for admitting to this – but I’m not laughing at them – I’m laughing with – oh, they aren’t laughing? Okay, then I am laughing at them because they’re funny as hell to watch and listen to! I know, I know – I get a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct! P-Shaw! No harm intended. I’m sure our guys sound just as amusing to people in other countries. However, I have to admit that this isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of unsportsmanlike conduct – in the last three months.

Last Christmas, there was a certain game that was played at David’s side of the family’s get together. Like so many times and with so many games, I would have preferred to have been a pure spectator. Matter of fact, I didn’t initially start playing this game. I had to leave the party to take someone back to their home, and when I returned, the group was playing Pictionary and were close to wrapping it up, so I sat down to watch.

It was the girls against the guys and we (the girls) were lagging behind. I’m not sure why, but the women decided to bring me into this game – against my will – I might add. I explained that I knew damned little about how to play Pictionary, but they told me what to do and all of a sudden, I’m picking up a card from the deck, and I had to draw and the women had to guess the word “extinct.” How the fuck was I supposed to draw that? I wasn’t even allowed to use an “X” in my drawing. And the whole thing was timed. So, yeah, no one on our team guessed this because clearly no one but me knew what a dodo bird looks like. But then after me, we started gaining ground on the guys.

At some point toward the end of this game, both sides were allowed to guess no matter which side was up and whichever side guessed first got the points or moved their peg or did whatever it is that was supposed to be done in order to win the game. So the game was down to the wire and one side or the other was going to win the upcoming round. Well, of course, it was my turn to pick a card and draw again. No pressure. This time the word I drew was “headband.” Easy breezy. Maybe a little too easy. And because it was so easy and I wanted our team to win, I decided to stand directly in front of the easel instead of standing on the side of it when I drew my picture. By the way, standing to the side while drawing a picture on an easel is super awkward.

Anyway, the idea popped into my head that I’d draw my headband without anyone seeing what I was drawing and then move out of the way once I was done. I was hoping that would allow one of the women to guess it before one of the men. Well, you never heard so much bellyaching by the men in all of your life. Was it my fault that Jill decided to walk up and look over my shoulder to see what I was drawing? Was it my fault that the guys didn’t think to do this as well? Was it my fault that Jill yelled out “headband” before anyone else and we won? Did Jill get called out for doing any of this? The answers to these questions are – no, no, no and no!

Suffice it to say that the rules were brought out because the guys knew for sure that I cheated. They knew for sure that one is not allowed to stand in front of the easel while one is drawing so that the drawing is obscured from everyone’s view. And maybe it said that somewhere in the rules and the guys were too drunk to find it, or maybe it never occurred to whoever made up this game that someone would do what I did, or maybe what I did was perfectly acceptable and so was what Jill did and we won the game fair and square – because the guys never found anything definitive that said I’d/we’d cheated. So as far as the girls were concerned, we won and they lost because everyone knows that Girls Rule and Boys Drool!

I’m only giving this as an example because often, there’s more than one way to win, and it’s often because of a loophole aka gaming the system. So without cheating or doping, by God I accidentally found that loophole in Pictionary (take notes, Russia.) Speaking of loopholes, check out the article about an American, Elizabeth Swaney, who signed up as a Hungary athlete who also used a few loopholes to figure out a way to be in the Olympics. There are a lot of people begrudging this woman, but not me. You know, if what she did is that big of a deal, then close the damned loophole! Until then, quit boohooing and suck it up, y’all.

Anyway, I probably won’t be asked to participate in Pictionary next year, but that’s what I call a win/win!

Also, congratulations to all of the athletes who participated in the Winter Olympics – 2018 style! GO TEAM USA!

Now, can we return to our regularly scheduled TV programming?


Note to self: find out what I have to do to come up with curling leagues and all that that entails in the DFW area. I have a feeling this sport is about to break in the US, in Texas, and in Dallas/Ft. Worth in a big way, baby – and I want to be on the upside of this!

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