Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ah-Choo! Gemütlichkeit!

Winter is a great season to get together for a dinner, a party, a soirée, or some other social diversion. There are Super Bowl parties, Valentine’s parties, Oscar parties, and St. Patrick’s Day parties. But there’s no need for an excuse. A nice warm fete with friends, food, drink and perhaps some agreeable music seems to always be in order during this frosty interlude.

There is a German word for those fuzzy snuggly moments that one experiences in these distinct winter social gatherings: Gemütlichkeit.

A Wikipedia article describes the word as meaning more than just comfy and cozy. It states, in part, “... rather than merely describing a place that is compact, well-heated and nicely furnished (a cozy room, a cozy flat), Gemütlichkeit connotes the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the opportunity to spend quality time”.

One drawback however, to this social warmth is the danger of contracting the dread acute viral rhinopharyngitis. This affliction seems more frequent this time of year, but it is not because of any exposure to the frigid elements. Rather, it’s due to contact with infected people who think nothing of sneezing or coughing in your face during one of the aforementioned shindigs. 

But we can be pro-active and take steps to reduce susceptibility to this illness:

• Drink fluids (especially orange juice)
• Get plenty of exercise (squeezing oranges to get some juice is highly recommended)
• Wash hands frequently (with orange juice, if possible)
• Use saline sprays (or orange juice) to irrigate nasal passages

Remember these tips the next time you have a get-together, like your upcoming annual World Figure Skating Championship party.

This year’s event will take place in Tokyo at Yogi’s Gym, and the competition will be fierce. These competitors are incredible athletes; displaying agility, strength, poise, skill, and impressive butt muscles. Just try to imagine the pressures that these skaters face.

Picture this: here you are, after years of dedication and practice, ready to compete in the most important event in your life. Not only do you have to perform at a top-notch level, but you have to look your absolute best as well. Hairstylists, make-up artists, and fashion designers are consulted in order to make you look as if you stepped off of the front page of Glamour.

You gracefully glide onto the ice to appreciative applause. Some schmaltzy version of "Lara's theme" blares through the loudspeakers as your routine begins. You look magnificent. Then you get ready to perform your first spinning leap (perhaps a triple sow cow, a quadruple axle, or a quintuple klutz). The crowd is hushed in breathless anticipation. You leap ten feet into the air, looking like Baryshnikov or Bessmertnova on blades; spinning like a dervish. You land — and fall; ignominiously sliding on your ass for the entire length of the ice in front of the thousands present and millions of viewers worldwide.

I can think of no other sporting event where there is such incongruity between what you want to portray and what you end up looking like. The only scenario that could possibly come close would be in an equestrian dressage event attended by royalty and the upper crust. If one of the participants were to land face first into a sloppy mixture of mud and manure, then that might equal the mortification of the skater’s gluteal glissade.

It would be nice if no one fell this year, but I believe the average number of keester-to-ice landings during these championships is about 197; so it is likely there will be many sore cabooses during that week.

Ah-Choo! And sore noses. Ah-Choo! Gesundheit. Ah-Choo! Goodnight and gemütlichkeit.

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