Valentine’s Day is not an actual red-letter day, but I decided to take a mini-vacation out in Mitaka-shi, eating chocolate cake, watching The Electric Company and various Michael Jackson videos (Have you ever worn a pointy red vinyl outfit to the movies?) — all of this much to the chagrin of my various employers. When I started receving urgent calls from Thailand on my cell phone about axial compressive force-related translations, I knew that my disappearance was a bit poorly-timed.
After learning about the letter C and the sound OW, I remembered that I should be watching the Winter Olympics instead of DVDs. Our options were unfortunately limited to speed skating trial runs or women’s curling. The latter is the butt of one million Olympic jokes, subject to decades of the most obvious, hackneyed, clichéd attacks.
But curling appeals to me, as I am a member of the 微妙族 (bimyouzoku): someone who intentionally likes minor things over major things due to both an undying curiosity and an unconscious need for self-differentiation. There are various degrees of this malady: going to Portugal instead of Spain, liking Isn’t Anything over Loveless, brown eggs over white ones, yellow watermelon over red, imaginary long-term Lyme disease instead of health, becoming the dictator of the Central African Republic and not the dictator of Chad.
So I found myself elated to watch a pre-taped women’s curling match between Russia and Japan. In some ways, curling fully deserves to be the recipient of so much wrath: the procedure, scoring system, and action are generally incomprehensible to the layman, even after watching an entire match. More than a sport, curling is a Newtonian physics experiment on inertia and kinetics taken into the competitive arena. Surely these players are masters at altering the speed and angles of the stone, but I think it is fair to say that the athleticism resembles snooker more than extreme snowboarding.
Cut back to the studio, and the Japanese announcers resort to pre-written comments to explain what the hell just happened (“If this were baseball, you could say that they lost on a last inning grand slam….”). Then they flash to their ever-growing wall of faxes sent in by fans wishing success for the Japanese national team. There are immaculately drawn speed skater portraits, cute letters from kids, dozens of Miki Ando-related materials. Then the camera scans to all two of the curling support faxes. The first one appeared to have been dashed off in under a minute: a rough sketch of a curling stone with the words “curling gambare” in sloppy handwriting. Sadly, the penmanship did not look like it originated from the hands of a child. The other was an asymmetrical line drawing of the team members, suspiciously created with the same marker line thickness.
These pathetic faxes made me feel sorry for the Japanese women’s curling team. Let’s face it: We do not show adequate love to the curling community. We now feel a duty to send our own faxes, especially knowing that they will put just about anything up on that studio wall. Low competition, you say? This is a job for the 微妙族！
Update: On tonight’s broadcast, they featured an authentically adorable fax from a teenage girl with one of the women’s curling team members wearing a curling stone as a hat. The fever is spreading.