Life’s Little Competitions

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I am not a competitive person. I don’t even like to play Solitaire on the computer, because I feel like the cards are mocking me when I lose. Also, the very name “Solitaire” implies that it is a pastime for lonely people. This is for people who can’t even get someone to play a GAME with them, never mind go out with them or get married to them. Really, even if you win at Solitaire, you’re still a loser.

Anyway, I’m not into competition or sports. They just don’t appeal to me. In fact, I was kind of hoping the NBA lockout would never end — not because I dislike basketball, but because I was amused at the prospect of Utahns having to find something ELSE to care about. Maybe some of them would have found religion.

As with most things I don’t care much for, my lack of interest in sports is largely because I don’t understand them. Take these “extreme sports,” for example. I was recently watching ESPN-2 (“Where We Make the Little Quote Marks with Our Fingers When We Say ‘Sports'”) and I saw a show called “Extreme Bloopers.” It was 30 minutes of people injuring themselves, usually by falling off a bicycle and landing crotch-first on a railing. (Why are we so amused by people hurting their crotches? Do you realize that if it were not for this fascination, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” never would have existed, and Bob Saget would have faded into oblivion much, much sooner than he did? Do you realize that YOU’RE responsible for that? You kids today, with your crotches…!)

Anyway, while I enjoy watching people get hurt as much as the next guy, I was perplexed by these “extreme sports,” and even more perplexed by the “bloopers” that arose from them. Most of these activities were things that I can’t imagine anyone doing WITHOUT getting hurt. One event had guys riding bicycles on snow. How dumb is that? I assume they rode bicycles only because they had not yet learned to ride unicycles, and that they rode on snow only because there were no icebergs nearby.

And those bicyclists on those ramps and railings. I realize the railings facilitate the coolest-looking stunts, but any man will tell you that a railing is the LAST thing you want to have around when you come tumbling off your bike. You want a huge cushion of pillows and marshmallows, not a steel bar, which happens to be the object in the universe that crotches are most irresistibly attracted to. You send a guy hurtling out of control, and nine times out of 10, he’ll wind up running smack into a steel bar.

But I have digressed from my point, which I have forgotten anyway. Oh, yes. Competition. Many of us, even here at kind and gentle BYU, are competitive. Some people have become so competitive, in fact, that they have incorporated little contests into their everyday lives. In the short space I have here, I will address one such contest: The one to see who can walk the slowest.

I apparently missed the day when this contest was officially begun, but as near as I can figure, it involves walking as slow as you possibly can, especially between classes and in crowded areas. And guys, I hate to say it, but the girls are beating the pants off us in this contest. Walk through a heavy-traffic area of the bookstore any time of the day, and you will surely see the following: two girls sipping Zuka Juices (Zuka: Swahili for “vile combinations of fruit juices that you could mix in your own sink or toilet for one-tenth the price”), walking side-by-side (so no one can pass them, naturally) at a pace that indicates they have NO place to be, EVER. These are people who, judging by the rate at which they are casually strolling, would apparently be content to wander around the bookstore FOREVER, sipping their Zuka Juices and talking about “Party of Five.”

One tactic that has been used frequently by people trying to win the slow-walking contest is to stop walking altogether, right in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. Sometimes this is done because two guys have not seen each other since “the mission” (or “the mish,” as it is sometimes called by people who think it’s cool to call it that). You can identify them because they call each other by their last names and because they do that fake man-hug, which is really just putting your arms around the other guy and smacking him hard enough to fracture his vertebrae, because we all know that an actual HUG would be, like, the gayest thing you could ever do.

The other time you see people stop in the middle of pedestrian traffic is when two girls feel a need to talk to each other. This is a bit tricky, because scientists have not yet identified a time when girls DON’T need to talk to each other. You could take two girls at random — even ones who don’t know each other, or who speak different languages — and they would find something to talk about. (Or, rather, they would find words to say. “Something to talk about” might be stretching it a bit.)

I feel that stopping as a means of winning the slow-walking contest should be against the rules, and that anyone who does it should not only be disqualified, but shot. Maybe we could make the shootings a game — for example, if they can escape our crack team of sharp-shooters, they can go free. That would get ’em movin’.

My favorite line in this column happens to be the one that the people above me wanted me to remove: "You kids today, with your crotches...!" I absolutely love that line, but they felt it was a superfluous use of the word "crotch." I disagreed, and I didn't take the line out (even though I may have semi-sort of told them I would).

It should be noted that I did, as a youngster, play some sports. I played T-ball when I was about 2 (well, I was young, anyway), and then soccer when I was around 5 or 6. I played goalie, and I was pretty good, thanks to some well-trained fullbacks who made sure the ball never got to me.

I had hoped the NBA lockout would still be going on when this was printed, but it ended a week or two before. Actually, as I mentioned, I kind of hoped it would last forever -- but I at least wanted it to last long enough to make this joke work. The Utahns are so obsessed with their Utah Jazz! They totally neglect some of the more important things, like turn-signal use and birth control.

(I kind of wish I had thought of that last line in time to use it in the column, but then I realize they never would have let me make the birth control reference anyway.)

I don't do many impressions; I'm not really a performer. But one impression I'm rather proud of is my impression of Every Girl at BYU. It involves meandering through a crowd while sipping a Zuka Juice (now called Jamba Juice), as described in the column. If you happen to see me in person, and if I'm in a good mood (note: that part is important), I'd be glad to do the impression for you.

A few days after this was published, I was walking through the BYU Bookstore and got caught behind a couple of guys who were caught behind some slow-walking girls. One of the guys said to the other, "Did you read 'Snide Remarks' this week?," and the other started laughing before the first one had finished, because evidently he was just thinking the same thing. That was very gratifying.

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