when Oscar Pistorius went ballistic

February 27, 2013

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… were sweatpants and trainers – faux sportswear – and a really sour expression, the kind that connotes pain or disappointment.

I was experiencing both.

There’s nothing about the Pistorius case that isn’t horrible and what makes it even uglier on a personal level is the sense there’s something unclean about my response, a distorting element that reflects badly on me.

I suspect I’m not the only one to feel this way.

Last summer Pistorius was our darling. He proved himself spectacular. It wasn’t just the medals, the fact of winning, it was the way he managed to straddle the whole superman/everyman divide. Here was one of life’s unfortunates, a person born into bad luck, who by dint of effort — mind-boggling effort – transformed himself into a champion.  It was rags to riches. It was stumps to riches.

We loved him. And we felt great about loving him.  He was ballsy and butch and fleet on those metal pins. We got involved. We timed our day to catch his races. We were followers, cultists even … and weren’t we open minded? How cool were we, how evolved to have a Mt. Everest-sized crush … on a handicapped person. And how cool was the situation, this triumph of the disabled? It was right, it was moral, it was a window on a better world.

Nonetheless – and this is the unclean bit — somewhere in the recesses of my mind, was this strange and dispassionate awareness of myself, my able-bodied self, as one of the lucky ones, and the likes of Oscar P, as the opposite – the other. It made his victories, his blaze of glory, rather non-threatening. He could be admired from a lofty position.

It made it that much easier to dote and sympathize. Allowances could be made, his little post-race hissy fit justified and dismissed. It was the pressure… So he’s a little over the top, he has to be psyched up to win. If it struck us this was a telling glimpse of the real Pistorius, a symptom of ‘roid rage and a possible sign of things to come, we brushed it aside.

In other words, we patronized him.

So when everything went tits up (putting aside the desperate tragedy in the loss of a bright, lovely and according to all reports, kind young woman) I was furiously disappointed. Disgusted and horrified, yes, but also very let down. The people we condescend to are not meant to betray us by going off the rails. They are meant to be grateful.

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3 Responses to “when Oscar Pistorius went ballistic”

  1. Phil Wise Says:

    A delicate and well crafted “sense of loss”.
    Thank You

  2. Joshua V Says:

    Athletes are like doctors, or scientists . . . you just don’t expect them to lie, steal, or cheat . . . or murder [and most of them don’t].

  3. Sonia Says:

    I love it Michelle! ‘The people we condescend to are not meant to betray us’!! – but actually I still think he’s innocent. All is not lost.

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