Her marriage proceeds under heightened security [Commentary]

Sportswriter husband off to the wars, literally

January 27, 2014|Susan Reimer

My husband the sportswriter has left to challenge the elements, and he isn't even The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore.

He is in New York to cover the first-ever open-air Super Bowl in a northern city — the Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks in East Rutherford, N.J., this Sunday.

And the last bit of confetti will still be floating to the turf when he leaves to cover the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the first winter games to be held in a sub-tropical resort, a place where the average temperature in February is 50 degrees.

This is something like my 25th Super Bowl and my 11th Olympics, and only once did I actually get to go. To Florida in 2010, where I was trapped for two extra days by the snowstorm in Baltimore. My luggage was lost and I arrived home in sandals and cropped pants to three feet of snow — and my house keys were in my luggage.

Faithful readers know that things start going wrong the minute my husband leaves for these winter marathons. Ice storms, wrecked cars, stolen wallets, mice in the kitchen, sick kids. And there was that time snow blew in through the vents in my roof and melted through the bedroom ceiling and onto my bed.

His friends outside the newspaper business think these are such glamorous assignments, and they make the same joke about going along just to carry his luggage. But my husband's response is always the same: Covering sports is like sex — when you get paid to do it, it changes the nature of the experience.

He tries to convince me that he lives off bananas and bottled water in the kiss-and-cry area for skaters — not expense-account steak dinners — but ever since he called me from Disneyland before one of his California Super Bowls, I have been suspicious.

This time, I am actually worried about him.

The poor man won't even get a chance to stop home between assignments for clean clothes, so when he told me his plan is to wash his underwear in the hotel sink in New York, I told him just to buy five weeks worth of boxers and pretend they are single-use.

He bought boots for Sochi, but I think he will need them for the Super Bowl. They are predicting bitter cold and snow this week. And I think he should have packed his golf shirts for Russia. They will suit the weather, and they might be worth something in a hostage situation.

My son the Marine is the one in a war zone right now, but he is actually worried about his father, who will attempt to cover figure skating under the threat of terrorist attacks. I have two members of my family relying on drones and anti-missile systems. My daughter, who can't decide which loved one to worry about, just thinks the world has gone crazy.

My husband has experience in Olympic terrorist attacks — he was in Atlanta when the bomb went off in Olympic Park — but this isn't anything that you want to get good at.

In the past, Olympic officials might discover caches of counterfeit souvenirs. In Russia, they are finding stores of bombs, land mines and grenade launchers, not to mention hastily buried bodies. If they are thinking of adding an extra ring to the Olympic symbol, it could be the "ring of steel" around the games that President Vladimir Putin is bragging about.

And if the United States is thinking about sending in ships and airplanes for a mass evacuation of the games, you know it isn't because of poorly planned traffic patterns and inadequate mass transit.

In advance of Olympic games in China and Japan, my husband's newspaper held elaborate briefings to familiarize staff members with sensitive cultural matters.

This time, the briefing included contact information for the "repatriation of remains." I am not kidding. Information on how to get your body back to your family after you are used for propaganda purposes by insurgents and then executed on camera.

"If it costs a lot," I said, "tell the Chechens they can keep your body, but make sure they send all the souvenir pins home."

Susan Reimer's column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at susan.reimer@baltsun.com and @SusanReimer on Twitter.com.

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