At the end of the first season of "The Osbournes", Kelly and Jack are riding in the back seat when they drive by McDonald's and Jack suddenly implores Kelly to look, the McRib is back! When his sister is unimpressed, Jack ends up telling Kelly it's the little things in life, like Bode Miller winning the gold medal in the Super-Combined.
In today's "New York Times", there's a compendium of stories about people who've lost their jobs during the recession, who've faced financial difficulty and have had to make dramatic turns to survive, if that. There's also a piece by Thomas Friedman about a town that charges $300 for a 911 call. Nothing's free anymore. We live in a world of diminished expectations. We're being nickel and dimed to death, just start filling the parking meter to get up to speed.
Then there are the trivialities. The product that suddenly breaks with no warning, that is necessary to your everyday life. The traffic jam that makes you late for an appointment. But it's the little things that ultimately put a smile on your face, that keep you going.
Because nothing is big enough to last. No gold medal, no sexual encounter, no momentary event can keep you going forever, in order to remain optimistic you must experience a steady stream of uppers, that may not make you stand up and say hell yeah, but will certainly put a smile on your face.
That's the human condition. In the face of adversity, you focus on the good things. You hop from one good thing to another, like crossing a river by jumping from stone to stone.
I've been following Bode Miller since the last century. When he started producing good results on K2, which hadn't made a decent racing ski since the 80's. Bode switched to Rossignol and won two medals in Salt Lake, unexpected by anybody but the devoted. Hell, I'll always remember him putting his ass to the snow and STILL winning. Because victory isn't always pretty. Only in Hollywood do people believe that perfection is the way to riches. It's our imperfections that make us lovable.
But Bode was pretty perfect in a sport that denies this. He won races in all five events, the World Cup, even skied an entire run at the World Championships on one ski after losing the other. He was not a machine, but a human being. Who could laugh. Something that's been absent from the U.S. Ski Team since the days of Bob Beattie, who believed only by overconditioning could his charges triumph.
Jimmy Heuga and Billy Kidd succeeded, but we never had a dominant racer until Bode. Someone the Europeans feared in every discipline.
But the Ski Team was like America. Conformity comes before success. And Bode didn't conform.
Eventually they parted ways, and Bode went on to further triumph, winning the World Cup again after the disaster in Torino.
There's no use revisiting it. We can comb through historical details, but all I can say is in Turin America was suddenly paying attention, and Bode didn't deliver. And America is all about winners.
But today Bode Miller delivered.
He came from behind, three quarters of a second out.
As Bode's aged, he's become a speed skier, he needed to win the downhill portion of the Super-Combined to stay competitive. I couldn't follow on the Web. Although he triumphed in the tight-turning slalom earlier in his career, Bode was now famous for not even finishing. He'd have to push and he'd probably ski out.
But that's not what happened. Bode pushed and won! He put it all on the line and blew them all away! I turned on my computer and there he was, smiling in triumph.
And I let out a yell, I smiled, a day fraught with problems became sunny and bright, despite the rain pouring down.
Bode never let me down.
But now he proved to everybody else that he was a winner. That you didn't have to be the smiling idiot of Jackson Browne's "Pretender" in order to succeed, going for the gold to placate everybody but yourself.
Ski racing is a very individual sport. But Bode's triumph today was not singular. It was for all of us. It showed us you can come back from adversity, not by denying yourself, by apologizing, by admitting your mistakes, but by doubling down, staying in the game and showing everybody what you've got.
Don't operate with one hand behind your back. Put it all out there. Let your freak flag fly. We want you. Rough edges and all.