Watching the Olympics on TV reminds me of the summer I turned fifteen. I lived in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympic Games, and it was during that fateful summer when I experienced my first high school crush.
Something about his voice, the way he talked. And, of course, that perfect part in his hair. I was totally, crazily, madly in love...
With Bob Costas.
He'd only done one prior Olympics before he came to cover the Atlanta Olympics. Everyone was still talking about him, talking about how great it was that he was doing all the Olympic coverage. I watched him talk about Stone Mountain, Lake Lanier and Centennial Park, and I pointed at all the landmarks I recognized. (As an aside, I was actually in Centennial Park when the bomb went off. We weren't anywhere near the bomb site, thank God, but we were there, nonetheless, headed back to MARTA for the long trip home.)
When we went to see the Dream Team play (not the original Dream Team, but the one with Shaq and Hakeem Olajuwon), I kept checking the stands around me, hoping he'd make a surprise cameo in the crowd.
And now, watching the Beijing Olympics and seeing Bob Costas, I'm instantly transported back to my pre-drivers-license days. Everybody drank Coca-Cola and I wore my XXL "Atlanta '96!" sweatshirt proudly as I watched Kerri Strug make her one-footed landing. (Oversized sweatshirts were apparently all the rage in Georgia in July. Not sure why. Overzealous air conditioning, perhaps?)
I then watched every single rerun as Costas interviewed Kerri and Bela (whose voices were at least 8 octaves apart), and between Costas and my other unrequited adolescent crush, Peter Jennings, I decided that I was destined to be on TV, just like them.
I started watching the local and national news channels religiously. I practiced talking like the anchors and gazing knowledgeably into the camera as I read my script. And lest you think this was just a fad during the Summer of '96, I give you my college major:
But, alas, life has an interesting way of working itself out, and after plenty of hours put in at a couple TV stations, I started to realize that Costas and Jennings had some pretty sweet, very rare gigs. And the rest of them? The mass of broadcast journalists lead lives of quiet desperation. (Or something like that.)
Long and often late-night hours for little pay to be a TV reporter meant that my dream of co-anchoring the 2004 Olympics with my good pal Bob was likely not going to happen. So I hung up my Katie Couric hat and moved on.
And I'm happy doing what I get to do now. Court is interesting and even sometimes exhilirating, especially when you're confronted with an on-the-spot argument and you've got to think on your feet. I even like drafting documents in the office -- it appeals to the picky wordsmith in me.
But every once in a while, when I flip past NBC and I see Bob sitting there in his crisp white linen chair, grinning beguilingly into the camera, I feel a twinge of hope that someday, just maybe, I'll still land that dream TV job. And then me and Bob can sit around and read prompter scripts about the good old days in '96.
Ah, Bob Costas. You haven't aged a day since Atlanta in 1996, and you'll always remind me of a summer filled with Space Ghost, cloned sheep, Oasis, that unforgettable dial-up modem sound, the newness of this crazy thing called the "internet" and most importantly, the Olympics in my hometown. Thanks for the memories.