On Tuesday, millions of television viewers around the globe will be privileged to observe the 13th winter Lympics beamed live into their homes direct from Lake Placid.
I, however, will be even more privileged. By frantic wheeling and dealing, I have managed to make arrangements that will enable me totally to ignore the 13th winter Olympics.
Folks, it's like this: Sometimes you simply have to face the obvious, even when the obvious is buried beneath a glacier of press releases, TV promos and endless newspaper updates on the progress of our plucky but under-financed lads on the Alpine Herring-Toss Team, training so hard to carry the colors against those all-but-unbeatable Mongolians, the brutes.
The obvious being that I find the winter Olympics as fascinating as slush.
Oh dear, now you're offended. Look, I'm sorry I had to be the one to say it, but let's try to be adult about this, okay? Let's examine this winter Olympics business, systematically.
The first element we come to is winter.
Of the four earthly seasons, winter is far and away the most disagreeable. Most intelligent people, far from seeking reasons to celebrate winter, harbor only a desire to escape it. Bears have the right attitude toward winter. They sleep through it. You will never catch a bear skiing. To think of winter as a time for outdoor recreation is preposterous. Turning one's body -- or mind -- toward a venue like Lake Placid, which is north of anything reasonable, borders on the insane, or worse, Canada.
Now we come to the second part of the winter Olympics, the athletic part -- winter sports.
Winter sports are to sports as airline food is to food. Historically, winter sports derive from the efforts of ancient Norwegians to keep from starving in blizzards, a less than promising basis for a modern entertainment spectacle.
Let us consider -- if we can stay awake long enough -- some of the individual events.
Cross-country ski racing: Every bit as thrilling as watching a herd of sheep look for better grazing in the next pasture. Often draws excited crowds of up to six people. All competitors are required to be named Olaf and wear knickers.
Biathlon: Mistakenly believed by many Americans to be a snythetic fiber used to manufacture jock straps. Competitors go cross-country skiing with rifles, so the sport is indistinguishable from the Russo-Finnish War of 1939. Aptly described as a small-bore event.
Luge: Mistakenly believe by many Americans to be a cough drop. Luge doubles resembles two people locked in carnal embrace being served on a large dish, then suddenly flung off the table. Most popular in Eastern Europe, where the populace is obviously starved for diversion of any kind. (Bulgarian contestants often have "Born to Luge" on left buttock.)
Ski jumping: Indistinguishable from suicide. If God had meant mankind to ski jump, he would have given us propellers. As for the downhill events at Lake Placid, they will be held on Whiteface Mountain, named for the distinctive visage of competitors as they go out of control.
Hockey: Mistakenly believed by many Americans to be exciting. How can one be excited by any activity occuring in something called a rink? And in which one is expected to concentrate on a puck? Even the players are not interested in hitting the puck.They clearly prefer hitting each other.
Figure skating: The only sport in which a nose job is a prerequisite for winning. The only sport done to music. If this is a sport, so is the Miss America pageant. So is disco roller skating. So is Howard Cosell's toupee. So is my left leg.
Bobsledding: Have you ever wondered about those two guys in the middle? I mean two middlemen from somewhere are going to carry home gold medals. For what? I'll tell you what. Leaning.They are world-class learners.
Are you convinced yet, or must I go on?
Okay. Besides boring, the winter Olympics are inherently discriminatory. People from southerly climes are unfairly shut out, victims of geography. Where are the Botswanans supposed to train their biathlon squad? How does Sri Lanka develop its luge talent? And when did you last see a Chadian figure skater?
Now I realize there is no stopping this thing, at least not this year. But there is always hope for the future. As a small step in the right direction (toward oblivion) I would like to suggest that in 1984 the winter Olympics take up a permanent residence. The climate couldn't be better. And in line with the very latest winter Olympics tradition, there are plenty of penal institutions available to convert into Olympics housing -- right there in that fabulous winter wonderland called Siberia.