In honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, I’d like to add a little fictional humor to that Trojan struggle between mighty nations and powerful people. I hope you enjoy!
Caleb slumped into the couch, carrying a soda, beside his friend Dave, who was looking at the screen across the room from them.
“Olympics, huh?” he asked.
“Yeah. It’s getting pretty intense.”
Caleb glanced at the screen. A volleyball game – America, and what appeared to be Korea. The game was indoors, with eight or so members per team.
“Weren’t they doing this, like, last week or something?” Caleb asked. “But outside, with only two team members?”
“Yeah. Beach volleyball.”
“It’s called beach volleyball? I didn’t know that it was that competitive. How on earth did that ever become an Olympic event?”
“It’s a very long story, and I’m not sure you’d want to hear it all.”
Dave picked up the remote and muted the television, turning to face his friend.
“Long ago, in 1990, there was a group of friends living in California. They decided to go to the beach one day, since it was a beautiful summer day and it would be fun. There were, let’s see…Nancy, May, Jake, Matt, Jerry, Ron, and Tim. Arriving on the beach, they proceeded to partake in the usual beach activities: splashing through the tides, sunbathing, swimming, Frisbee, and, of course, volleyball.
“Now, Nancy and May were lying on their towels, sunbathing, while the guys played volleyball – Matt and Jerry on one team, and Jake, Ron, and Tim on the other. Naturally, Matt and Jerry were being trounced. For every point they managed to strangle out, their opponents would get three. It was like the Battle of Cannae – Matt and Jerry were just in the palm of Hannibal’s hand.
“At their victory, the achievement of the whole twenty-one points needed to win, the trio cheered in triumph. May looked up, her attention caught by this noise. She frowned, and spoke to the them.
“’Why are you cheering so much? It’s three against two! Of course you won, even though you boys can’t play worth beans.’
“’Right, like you could play better,’ scoffed Jake.
“’Oh, we could definitely,’ said May, the argument catching her attention. ‘We could beat all three of you.’
“’Try us!’ Tim challenged.
“So Nancy and May stood and came to the net, facing their opponents with cold, piercing eyes of steel and death. Ron served the ball, and it was begun. I honestly wish they had recorded those games on video, since they must have been exhilarating. When Ron hit the ball, it was no less the force of Jove’s thunderbolts. But May bumped it, Nancy set it, and then May, like Artemis drawing back her silver bow, brought back her hand, unleashing the ball like a Cynthian arrow, which strikes dead-on, and slays its victim.
“In this case, though, it merely scored the two girls a point for their game. Nancy stood like proud Hera, triumphant over the damnation of the product of her husband’s waywardness, his expression mirrored in the trio of boys. May now took the volleyball, sending it quick over the net. The boys fled from it like the head of the Gorgon, and the ball landed in the sand, marking another point for the girls.
“However, that is not to say that the girls dominated the game. On the next serve, Tim bumped the ball, before Ron set it slowly, like the long-tempered smithery of Hephaestus in his volcano, producing a javelin of perfect size and power, which, handed to Ares, strikes death to all who come near it. Thus was Jake’s spike, which struck the sand with all the power of the great meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs.
“The game went back and forth for some time, before, at long last, the girls emerged victorious over the trio, who stood in shock, as if gazing on the face of Medusa, completely at a loss to explain their failure. Beside them, Jerry and Matt applauded the game, congratulating the girls on their Herculean attainment.
“’I can’t believe you won!’ said Jake. ‘Best two out of three?’
“’Only if you wish to lose again!’ replied Nancy.
“And they played again. By now, though, others had noticed their amazing play, and gathered around to watch, cheering and applauding with each hard-won point gained by each side. And the girls won again, and thus spoke Jake again.
“’Best three out of five?’
“It goes without saying that the girls won this last game. But it was even more harder than the first game, as the boys played like the incarnations of Hercules, Achilles, and Theseus, all gathered together in one ultimate trio. Nancy fought like Athena and May shot like Artemis, and, alas, there was no Orion to oppose her.
“As they traveled back home that evening, only one thought consumed the minds of Jake and Tim, who had suffered the losses the most: how to beat those girls. So they trained, and they trained. The next time they all went to the beach, these two played volleyball against Nancy and May once more, barely winning three games to two. Now it was the girls’ turn to train to beat the boys.
“In addition, the sparring of these two pairs inspired dozens of their spectators. Within a year, scores of other two-person teams popped up all over California and, soon, the country. It became so popular that it was featured in the 1992 Olympics, with Nancy herself being part of the team that achieved first place. And after that, it was inducted as an official Olympic game, with two person teams to commemorate Nancy and May’s valiant efforts, and scoring best out of five games to remember how many were played that glorious summer afternoon on the beach.”
Dave leaned back, having finished his story, watching for his friend’s reaction. Caleb at first said nothing, just staring at Dave, eyebrows raised.
“That’s BS, and you know it,” he said finally.
“Come on! It was a fun story, at least,” replied Dave.
“Yeah, but totally fake. ‘Cynthian arrow’, honestly!”
“Well, it was the best explanation I could think of in thirty seconds. Why didn’t you just look it up on Wikipedia? You have your phone with you!”
“My phone ‘tempered by the Cyclopes and given the wings of Mercury’? It was a hypothetical question anyway. I didn’t expect you to try to answer it!”
“Well, it was a good challenge.” Dave turned back toward the television, unmuting it. “Oh, look! US won!”