Friday, August 20, 2004

That'll teach you to talk to teens

Watching 16-year-old Carly Patterson do her round of interviews last night after winning the all-around gold in women's gymnastics, I had a twinge of sympathy for Bob Costas and the other question-askers. The whole thing reminded me so much of exchanges with my own kids, in which queries that involve any sort of detailed reply are answered with a few awkward sentence fragments, maybe a roll of the eyes, and a general impression that this whole conversation thing is just stupid grown-up stuff. Now, you don't have to be a youngster to find those post-victory questions eye-roll-worthy. Over and over again, winners are asked what they were thinking and feeling while in the heat of competition, and I have to believe that if they were taking the time to think and feel when they were supposed to be focused on pure physical exertion, they probably wouldn't have won in the first place. Nevertheless, most Olympians gamely attempt to come up with some sort of response to keep the interviewer from having egg on his or her face. Not our sweet 16 gymnastics queen, though -- she sounded like she was thisclose to saying "Whatever" and pulling a GameBoy from her pocket. Her interviews gave me that same feeling of annoyance I get from chats with my own inarticulate offspring; but I guess it's nice to know that under all that acrobatic prowess lurks an actual kid and not some sort of tumbling robot.

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