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This Cocoon Had a Cool Pool Too

October 02, 2000|LISA DILLMAN

SYDNEY, Australia — Ten ways to leave Sydney undercover . . .

It's time to think about returning home. Why? Well, think of these things that have happened here and there since setting foot and pen on Australian soil.

1. My husband, scribe Mike Penner, became addicted to pseudoephedrine, or in clearer terms, Tylenol cold medicine, thanks to the Times' chef de mission or in clearer terms, chief of the sports department, Bill Dwyre.

2. O.J. . . . C.J. . . . Johnnie Cochran specializing in representing all initials, all the time.

3. The clueless tennis volunteer--unidentified for his protection--who ignored the rebuke of a female American colleague, saying: "I'll call you anything I want, darling." The 1950s are still alive in some Aussie households, apparently.

4). Never again being able to watch rhythmic gymnastics with a straight face. (Now that's a straight line.) The hosts of "The Dream" called a gymnast's ball, "a 20-pound shotput," saying "She's got to look like she's got out of bed with the shot . . . living with the shot . . . making the shot look so light."

5. "The Dream," Part II. Maybe it was the late hour after a long day of watching cycling time trials, but there was something truly funny about stuffed-toy Olympic mascots hurtling off a 10-meter platform into a pool of water, slow motion and all. Olly, Syd, the Boxing Kangaroo and, of course, Fatso the Wombat, who won the competition with the biggest splash of all before sinking to the bottom of the pool. Enthused "The Dream" team: "His rip entry got him there!"

6. Inge de Bruijn. The Dutch swimming star was gracious under pressure, eight days of criticism from the press, other coaches and swimmers. She charmed a trio of U.S. reporters with an entertaining interview, long after other swimmers had departed and then handed out her business card, complete with a black-and-white photo of De Bruijn and phone number.

7. Pieter van den Hoogenband. The other Dutch star was a hit with the other swimmers, even when he was crushing them in the pool. Quite a right van den bloke, the Aussies said of him.

8. Lenny Krayzelburg. The Dutch didn't have the sleeper hold on class. Krayzelburg, winner of three gold medals, told his story for the 1,000th time after winning his first race, the 100 backstroke. He kept talking through wave after wave of reporters, finally signing off, saying: "Thanks for your support." And he meant it.

9. "Ally McBeal" lived in the Main Press Center. I kept seeing a male photographer from another country in the women's restroom. Sure, it could have been my mistake, long hours and no sleep. But the sign was right. We had a brief chat about the mistake and he smiled, saying: "It will be our secret." At least I didn't hear Barry White in the restroom or spot the Dancing Baby.

10. Life does not stop back home. Reporters often feel as if they are in a cocoon at a major sporting event such as the Olympics, that nothing really else matters. A relative once joked he missed the Six Day War because of the NHL meetings.

There was life outside Sydney. In the second week, the decision was made to retrieve messages back home in Southern California. The wonderful news unfolded from my cell phone as I was riding a bus. The older brother was engaged to be married. Welcome to the family, Kim.

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