Sitting on my patio on a sultry sunday afternoon looking out onto the beach (yes i live on the beach!!!) something feels odd, for the longest time i can't put my finger on exactly what but it just doesn't feel right.... then it all of a sudden it strikes me.... hey its sunday and i am actually home. That usually doesn't happen since i travel most weekends (for a reason that i rather not say). At first, seat 2A on jet airways was my second home but now over the past year and a half that has moved up to numero uno. My parents refer to me at home as a "fleeting glimpse" and i think if i got a new hair cut or something they wouldn't recognize me :) but hey it has been a good year and i wouldn't change my situation for the world. I love being in sports and even people with the slightest connection to the sporting world become my friend instantly.
So since i am in this pensive mood and i start thinking of my life and all the people i have known over the years and i begin musing how athletes and semi athletes (people who are retired athletes or think of themselves as athletes) are such a different species. We are so much more complex and have the strangest of habits and traits that defy all logic. The most common stereotype is that athletes are stupid but that is the most flawed theory ever. Just as they say genius' are on a different wavelength so are we and most regular Joe's just don't get us but hey, they still love us. We live on a different planet and are the kings of our own world.
In the beginning all my interactions used to be with tennis players and others deeply ensconced in the tennis world. However, thanks to my present job my world has really opened up. I have had the pleasure of learning all about the different sports and had a lot of interaction with athletes from a wide array of different disciplines. That is the beauty of sport that no matter how different we are there are some things that are still the same.
I will try and keep names out(which is hard because people who know me don't tell me any secrets) of this since i don't want to embarass anyone although it is hard to embarass and athlete it is the "semi athletes" (definition above) i would like to protect. We do the oddest things and of course there is that whole "superstition factor" but i will talk about that another day. It might be noted that all the athletes (not semi athletes) i refer to are world class athletes and would be great research bodies for the next author of "the DNA of a Champion." I have this one "friend" whose hair straightening iron is her American Express card (for those who don't know their slogan its "never leave home without it"). She can survive without her passport (which she has forgotten many a time), her rackets, clothes anything but if she doesn't have her iron she is like a fish out of water. Her dependence on this appliance is even funnier because she never leaves her hair loose, but even before she brushes her teeth she will have to straighten the two strands of hair on either side of her ponytail.
Then there is this other "friend" who has a penchant for mascara and eye liner. I don't know what the affinity is but she puts it on even before she goes for a swim. Even if she has to go for a run at 5am (which most of us athletes do regularly) she has to put it on. We have tried to explain to her that it is dark at 5am and also that by the time it is daylight her peers are so tired that they are not checking out the highlighted contours of her almond shaped eyes, but she isn't buying it.
Then there is that other character who came to the tennis court they other day dressed like a cross between rafael nadal and ricky carmicheal (dirt bike racing champion... don't know how i knew that). He was wearing this tight long sleeve body hugger under his t-shirt in 32 C(that 110 F for my american readers) and went on the argue that it was actually making him feel cool, which would have been impossible even if he had an a/c under that thing.
Then there is my other friend who no matter what the scientists said believed that Bacardi and coke was the best pre match hydration, pepperoni pizza was the breakfast of champions and KFC chicken was the ideal pre match lunch. Hey scientists if you are reading this.... he was number one in the world.
No matter how different we all are there are somethings that all athletes do... we just never sightsee. We may travel 40 weeks in the year and be platinum in every frequent flyer program but have never seen anything. We may see the Eiffel Tower on our 4th visit to paris and maybe check out the statue of liberty on our 3rd time in NY but that is about it. The only sightseeing we do is on our way to the hotel from the airport and usually if we have lost we are too pre occupied to be looking out on the way back. However, i would like to add that we are the last word on airports. We can tell you which airport has the best couches for long layovers (my vote goes to Changi) and which airline has the best blankets (BMI wins my vote there).
You might be wondering why we are like this and what causes these idiosyncrasies? No one knows whether our parents genes mysteriously mutate before being passed on to us or whether an overdose of endorphines causes us to behave differently. The truth is we are blessed to be the way we are and no athlete would trade their world for anything.
We may march to a different beat or dance to a different tune but frankly.... it is our world and you guys just live in it.