Dutch Curlers, the middle
As mentioned earlier, when Baltimore Sun columnist Rick Maese and I walked into the Holland House last night, the first woman we saw said, "Oh, we're definitely letting this guy in." I should have mentioned that I had received some e-mail correspondence from the Holland House, and that the public relations person there had read my blog, which is why she immediately knew who I was when she saw my temporary Olympics credential, which identified me as "Steinberg, D.G." Apparently, parts of my blog were posted somewhere in the house.
I told the Heineken public relations person my concerns about the "Dutch Curling Team." She was very diplomatic, but she had also met these guys and had also had her doubts once or twice. Anyhow, she called a guide to escort us to the land of orange carpets and soul-vibrating speakers. I told our guide my theory about Dutch people speaking English better than anyone else in Europe (besides the English, but including the Scottish), and she said "that's what comes from watching old episodes of 'Friends.'"
So inside the party, Rick and I headed to the coat check, but before we got there I saw this guy I knew only as "Dries," one of the alleged curlers. The rest of the "curlers" were nearby, exactly where they had been the night before.
"You're not really the Dutch Curling Team!" I screamed at Dries. He seemed startled, and said "Yes, we are." I whipped out my roster. He studied it, and then brought me over to Oblong, who said he knew one of the guys listed on my roster. Dries quietly walked away.
I figured I should settle down. I was wearing a bright orange "TNT" hat, TNT being the Dutch mail-delivery company whose orange color scheme would give me cover on this night. I was also wearing my orange right glove, "Camille," that the "Dutch Curling Team" had given me the night before.
"Is that where you got that glove from?" Rick asked, after we left Dries. "That guy? Because he only had one glove."
We found the rest of our group. The "Dutch Curling Team" had already been talking to Libby and Amalie. I saw "Frank," who had identified himself the night before as the skip for the "Dutch Curling Team." He was leaning against the wall of the small ice rink inside the Holland House.
"Joey Cheek," he said to me, gesturing toward the ice, where none other than Joey Cheek, wearing tight jeans, a white t-shirt and bright orange skates, was whizzing past.
I paused my curling investigation long enough to take photos of Joey Cheek speedskating inside the Holland House, and then questioned Frank about his team, and whether they were really the Dutch Curling Team.
"Up 'till now we're too young," he said. "We need to beat the older generation. The curling federation has a policy that youth should be first, and so from now on we are. Otherwise, we're never going to make it to Vancouver."
He gave me his last name--"Fraza" and his e-mail address. Libby came over to assist in the investigation.
"Do you have a Web site?" she asked.
"It's in progress," Frank said.
"Are you the official team?" she asked.
"No no no no no," he said.
I turned to another "curler," Maarten, who had the same story. "We're the next generation," he insisted. "What do you need? What do you need for proof?"
I didn't know.
I said that the "Dutch Curling Team" t-shirts made me think they had represented Holland in international events. "But we never said that," Maarten said.
There were bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise everywhere. People were eating French fries and sausages and Dutch Croquettes (not sure exactly what they are, but they're heavily fried and smell like a combination of heaven and NASCAR).
Those t-shirts confer such legitimacy. Those t-shirts got these guys into the Wall Street Journal and the Miami Herald and the Chicago Tribune. And they're not even the nicest t-shirts in the world. They look like a shirt meant to appear old and filled with authentic hip, but one that is really new and filled with manufactured hip. They look like the t-shirt rack at Urban Outfitters. The background is white. There are some green stripes around the shoulders. The "Torino2006" logo is near one armpit, and "Dutch Curling Team" is near the other, and "Curling is My Life" is written, in green, across the center of the shirt. The "curlers" said they only had one shirt each, and many of them were marked by horrible stains, various shades of yellow and brown, stains worthy of a frat house couch.
U.S. speedskater and flag bearer Chris Witty told me she wanted to get one of the shirts. (Yes, Chris Witty was there, talking to the "Dutch Curling Team;" yes, I have multiple witnesses. Other speedskaters in attendance included Derek Parra, and reportedly, Jan Bos and Sven Kramer.) Chris Witty had been trying to barter with one of the curlers for his shirt, but he wanted $2,000.
Chris being from Wisconsin, we started talking about cheese. Domestically, she likes Wisconsin cheddar, which is a boring but understandable choice. Internationally, she prefers Saint Andre, a super buttery triple creme. We talked about the various pronunciations of "Gouda."
Joey Cheek came over. "You have a pen and paper," he pointed out. I told him that he is by far the most beloved Olympic athlete on this blog, and that my readers love him. "That's awesome," he said. "I'm flattered."
Meantime, Frank the "curler" was explaining how the "younger generation" should have been allowed to compete internationally over the past few years, to get more experience.
He had cigarettes.
"Curlers shouldn't smoke," Libby told him.
"They shouldn't drink, either," he said.
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Posted by: Dutch Curler | February 25, 2006 01:01 PM
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