Hyde Park, London’s Central Park except it’s not in the center but it definitely is a huge park, airs non-stop live Olympic broadcasting on four massive HDTVs in front of a woodchip lawn. I think 20,000 stood comfortably when I went on Sunday night to watch Usain Bolt and the other fastest men in history who have absolutely no shot at reaching Bolt. My friend Julie and I posh-ly refused to join the commoners in the childish woodchip lawn, and opted for the 10 Pound (15 US dollars) “Quick-Service” pass that gave immediate entry and seats close to the television. However, as I have been indoctrinated with not being rich and spending money on splendor, or stupid shit, I stood in line for a short while before my friend coerced me to skip the line – a right I purchased – while I apologized to the other people in line and to the security officer with the metal detector wand.
We entered the park and bought beer. If you ever visit London, you will immediately notice how expensive everything is. The Fosters was 5 Pounds ($7.50 if you really couldn’t figure that out), which I guess is the same at Fenway Park, but everything adds up when you include the overpriced ticket and the fact that I drank more throughout the night. Or maybe it’s just a lesson that I should have spent money more conservatively here.
Looking for our reserved seats, we passed a kids’ play area. The British like weird things like when their Queen jumps out of an airplane, so this event barely surprised me. Children floated and jumped around inside Bubble Boy-like inflatable balls over an inflatable kiddie pool. The Olympic Volunteer Carnies would place the kid completely inside a clear deflated ball, inflate it, and push the kids into the water where they could jump against the wall to move. The kids also stayed dry, which meant there was no air socket, which means this would never be allowed in the States for as fun as it looked.
Eventually, we showed our wristbands to some security people and sat in bleachers that resembled any seat at Yankee Stadium excluding those seats by home plate that nobody can afford. The bleachers were probably only one-sixteenth filled at the time, and never filled more than twice that. I forget which track event was racing at 8 pm, but we cheered and chanted “U-S-A!” loudly whenever the American athletes appeared. A British family of a man, woman, and five-year-old Buzz Lightyear sweater-wearing son sat one row in front of us. I thought this family was great. They enjoyed our semi-joking obnoxious American spirit and laughed at our jokes. At home, I feel compelled to say “Yankees Suck” to whoever I see wearing a Yankee shirt. I told a six-year-old that, three years ago! I’m the worst.
Speaking of which, I grew up in New York, but am a diehard Red Sox fan. I would attend Red Sox-Yankee games at woefully missed Old Yankee Stadium in full Red Sox garb and cheer loudly for the Sox. Yet there would always be a handful of supportive Sox fans that I would run into. Here, Julie and I were completely alone.
Do you know what it’s like to cheer for something, but none of the 20,000 people standing around you act similarly? And then they act like you do when their athletes are announced. That’s what happened on Sunday. Granted, there were many Jamaican fans with flags cheering for just Bolt, and a surprising number of Trinidad and Tobago fans. There are a lot more Trinidad and Tobago fans in London than you’d expect.
A few minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A sixty-year-old gray-haired man in a black raincoat with the hood down stood above me. He took his hand out of his pocket. “Go USA,” he quietly stated. He pulled his hand out of his pocket, gave a secretive “Thumbs Up,” and walked away. Tonight, at least the Americans were winning Gold for funny.
The night continued and the sky became darker, and eventually the match began. “There’s no way he’s losing this,” I said after cracking up while Bolt twiddled his fingers as if they were running. He was too calm to do anything but win. But I do think it would have been really funny if during their introduction, Bolt or any of the sprinters did that cute sexy dance that 19-year-old Brazilian hurdler did before her race.
Here is the transcript of what I said in the record 9.63 race from the starter’s gun to when Bolt crossed the finish line, in first. Keep in mind I was jumping up and down in my seat and looked like a total ass:
“Gay’s got it. Gay’s got it. Wait. Holy shit. Holy shit! HOLY SHIT! HOOOOLLLLY SHITTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!”
Holy shit. Bolt moved unfathomably fast. I read that the top three all clocked in the top-five Olympic times, or something like that (can someone correct me on this?) but Bolt completely smoked them. It was insane.
It’s also nice watching things live here. We’re lucky that the next summer Olympics are in Rio de Janiero, which are only one hour ahead of Boston. It’s much more enjoyable watching live, even if the thousands of people you’re sitting with resent your country. But, hey, we all witnessed history together.
Holy shit. He’s so fast.