Finally, it's here. Atlanta has reached The Big Day. The six-year wait is finished. The Olympic Games are ready to get under way. Atlanta is ready to produce the biggest and perhaps best Olympic Games in history.
That's the plan anyway. Some have their doubts. Take comedian Jeff Foxworthy, for instance. He worries that when the Olympics come to his native Atlanta and the deep south, the result will be the Bubbalympics.Foxworthy is sure that Atlantans will find a way to mess it up. They've done a fine job of whipping the town into shape for the Olympics, but the Games don't officially begin until tonight's opening ceremonies. That's where the trouble will begin, according to Foxworthy, who delights in poking fun at the South's outdated redneck reputation.
Picture the Clampetts Go To the OH-lympics.
If Foxworthy is to believed, the sight of all those doves being released at the opening ceremonies will be too much to resist.
"You just know there're gonna be guys in the parking lot with shot guns," he drawls. "Hey, Ed! I got me a white one!"
And there is no way they're going to have a flame that big without a pig on it. ("Dang good barbecue at the top of them stairs up there.")
There is also some concern about bringing the torch through the state to light the Olympic flame. The last time they brought a torch into these parts, people weren't too happy with the results.
You can understand their nervousness tonight.
When the competition actually begins on Saturday, that will be a whole other matter. The way Foxworthy sees it, you can expect the Olympics to have a distinct flavor when they meet the South during the next 16 days. They'll be a little different than they were in, say, Barcelona and Seoul.
Word has it, for instance, that five old tires have been strung together for the Olympic rings. ("They burn a loooong time," notes Foxworthy.) High jumpers will leap over a clothesline strung between two trees. The biggest concern: A jumper could get his heel caught in the line, and you know what that means. Down come the underwear and socks.
Discus throwers will heave old Ford hubcaps.
Prediction: The water polo competition will be canceled after two or three horses drown.
Georgians are more familiar with other events, such as the hammer throw. They've had some practice with this. The rules are simple: Hit your thumb and then chunk it (the hammer, that is). ("An' it don't count if you don't cuss.") In the fencing competition, athletes will be given bailing wire. Objective: See how fast they can pen the goat.
They'll probably replace the 4 x 4 relay with the 2 x 4 relay in which competitors go to a construction site at 3 a.m. to make "home improvements at discount prices."
Foxworthy's biggest worry is for the kayakers, whose competition will be held on the same river that was featured in the movie Deliverance. "This adds a whole new degree of difficulty," he explains. "If Ned Beatty couldn't get down that river, some Frenchmen in bike pants ain't got a chance."
Georgians became ill with disappointment when they learned that the Olympic version of football did not include shoulder pads, helmets and the use of hands.
Table tennis has been disappointing, too. The tables keep breaking. Seems the players are too heavy.
But Atlantans are practical. When they heard that volleyball and softball would be Olympic sports, they did the only thing they could do: They organized a picnic.
So, y'all come on down tonight. Bring yourself some potato salad and the kids. There'll be fireworks. And a parade. And lots of foreigners from other countries. And good food. The boys are promising a local favorite: barbecue doves.