Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Humor Me: For the queen, smiling at Olympics would be royal pain

The highlight of the opening ceremony of the Olympics was when the queen of England appeared to parachute into the stadium with James Bond. That seems to be the popular opinion, anyway, but here’s what I thought was the shiniest moment:
When Elizabeth II, the famously dignified, 86-year-old queen, was moved by the spirit of the Games and broke into a big smile that warmed the hearts of everyone.
Oh wait, that was actually some other octogenarian? Betty White, perhaps? Was it another distinguished-looking woman who was willing to show that she was enjoying a ceremony watched by a billion people around the world?
It’s not like the queen doesn’t smile ever. Just not a lot, I guess.
She’s stoic. She’s classy. She’s royalty. Yeah, I get all that. But when you’re watching a show that is a tribute to your country’s history and includes thousands of local volunteers, including lighthearted scenes with children in pajamas, you can’t crack the stone face for even a few moments?
Apparently not. I’ve seen more expressiveness from the cast of the Real Housewives of Wherever, and most of their facial muscles are paralyzed by Botox. I’ve seen more emotion in the faces on Mount Rushmore.
The queen just stared that “I am not amused” dagger at the field below. It was like someone had dissed her Corgis, or that the jolly-good show, which was an entertaining trip through English history, had accidentally included a bit on George Washington leading a victory over the Brits in the Revolutionary War.
Bloody peasants!
Obviously, the queen deserves some credit for agreeing to participate in the Bond spoof. And she’s 86 years old, so sitting through a five-hour ceremony that included the procession of athletes from 200 countries was probably not her thing. She might see this whole Olympic invasion of her country as a royal pain.
But still, just give a little smile. Just give a little warmth. The London weather could certainly use it, considering the 2012 Summer Games might be the first to have a beach volleyballer treated for hypothermia.
The queen’s sour face was almost anti-Olympic. Not quite like steroids, blood doping or when Charles Barkley elbowed that player from Angola in the 1992 Olympics. But certainly it was weirdly out of place, like when the American athletes walked into the stadium wearing European berets and clothes made in China. (Go USA!)
But hey, at least the Americans were smiling.
That includes the members of the U.S. men’s basketball team, who often look bored with the whole experience because the Olympics don’t really mean that much to them. For many athletes, the Olympics are the end-all and be-all, but for NBA players, the Games are more of an off-season tryst. A few months ago Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, a part of the gold-medal team in 2008 who Forbes estimated made $27 million last year, said that NBA players should be paid to compete in the Olympics.
After all, the Olympics do make money off those NBA guys. That’s true.
But if you don’t want to be in the Olympics, then don’t be in the Olympics. Someone will replace you, and I bet that person will be smiling.
As for the queen smiling, I’m not sure we’ll see that at these Olympics. But it’s possible she’ll loosen up at the closing ceremony and give everyone a grin. She could show the world that dignity can be maintained while smiling.
Or maybe she’ll just give some more frozen stares that snuff out the Olympic flame.
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