The best place to watch the Olympics is the isolation ward of the local hospital in Usti nad Labem, a town located between Prague and Dresden in much the same way your anus is located between your butt cheeks.
It was Sharon's fault I was in the hospital. It was not her fault I was sick, just that I was sick in the hospital. Before her intervention, I was sick at home. I had been sick at home for a week before the ambulance came, a week during which all of my insides had completely liquefied in an apparent attempt to pass efficiently, and sometimes involuntarily, out of my ass. I believe it was the involuntary part that made Sharon break her promise and tell her colleagues, who in turn called the ambulance, who in turn knocked on the door to our flat at 9 AM that morning while I was sitting on the toilet, quietly worried that I had just shat out my lungs.
I couldn't get up to unlock the door, and yelling "Hold on!" was out of the question since any such intake of breath would have caused even more of my insides to become my outsides, so I did nothing. Which was the wrong thing to do. The knocking turned to pounding and the pounding turned to louder pounding which soon became louder-pounding-with-yelling. Before long, so much noise was being made outside my door that when I did yell out, nobody heard it, which made it all the more tragic that the effort cost me my spleen, now floating like so much flotsam next to my lungs. Minutes later, the pounding and yelling was replaced by a key in a lock, and in seconds, the door opened and no less then ten people spilled into my flat. First were the paramedics, followed by the principal of Sharon's school, his entire English department, and then Sharon herself. I know this because our flat's bathroom was in a straight line with the front door and I had not bothered to shut the bathroom door. I had also not bothered to put on any clothes. Everyone stopped short when they saw me, and for a few moments the only sounds that could be heard were Sharon at the back of the group yelling, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" and me squirting what was left of my dignity out of my ass.
At this point in the story, with a hallway full of paramedics and half the teaching staff of Primary School #33, it's embarrassing to admit this was all for a case of food poisoning. Bad food poisoning, to be sure, but still just food poisoning. The brouhaha came as a result of a slip Sharon made when telling her coworkers about my illness. She said I caught it in Bulgaria. You see, the Czechs are a bit xenophobic when it comes to countries more easterly than theirs (a laughable trait, equivalent to an Alabaman warning you against traveling to Mississippi), so when she said I had been laid up for a week with some bug we brought back from Bulgaria, the teacher to whom she said it was on the phone to the Czech version of the CDC in seconds.
And that's how I spent the next two weeks locked down in an isolation ward with nothing to do but watch the Olympics.
This was 1994. It was the dead of winter. The Olympics were being held in Lillehammer, Norway, about a thousand kilometers from the Czech Republic. The still state-controlled Czech television stations had sent a camera to follow the action. One camera. Every day they moved the camera to a new event and simply let it roll. For one whole day of my medical incarceration, I watched skier after skier stop in front of that camera in what must have been the least exciting coverage of the biathlon ever.
It was sublime.
There was no artificial human drama, no attempt to deify the athletes. There were neither commercials nor commentators. There was just skiing and shooting. (That is, inexplicably, what the biathlon is. They ski a little, they shoot a little. It's not so much a sport as a survival skill. But watching it did lead me to wonder why rifles aren't added to more Olympic events. They'd sure as hell make the men's floor exercise a more compelling watch.)
Every day the camera was in a different place, pointed at a different event. Finding out where made waking up in that dismal place actually exciting. Sometimes the location of the camera was so obscure, it took me forever to figure out what I was seeing. One time I watched a bare snow drift for almost an hour before, in a flash of color, a single cross-country skier went past. I literally squealed with joy when I saw him. Or her. There was no way to tell.
When visitation hour came each day, the Olympics were all I could talk about. Er, yell about. Visitation time at the isolation ward meant for one hour people were allowed to stand on a balcony outside my window, outside the whole building actually, and yell at me through the double-paned glass. It was February. In Eastern Europe. I didn't get a lot of visitors.
"Did you watch the Olympics today?" I would ask eagerly.
"DID YOU WATCH THE OLYMPICS TODAY?"
"NO! I TOLD YOU! IT'S UNWATCHABLE!"
I felt sorry for my brothers on the outside.
Those outside the hospital did not see the Olympics as I did. Their lives were too busy to watch the games in this new and, I'm not afraid to say it, daring way. To experience the Olympics like me, they needed to stop for more than just the few moments that their busy schedule allowed. They needed to stop for hours. They needed to stop and empty themselves of all their cares, their responsibilities, their commitments, and most importantly, their internal organs. And I knew just the restaurant in Bulgaria to help them out with that last one.