Welcome to ‘What Is Your Damage,’ Annie Barrett’s summer shop of all the melodrama and self-absorption she misses from springtime reality TV. Every Tuesday and Friday, she’ll rant about a current offense to her humanity, then assess readers’ damages via video replies. Don’t be shy about admitting what annoys or intrigues you. We’re all in this pop cult together!

What’s your damage, Olympics? (After the exhaustive picture roundups of Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3, I ask you for the last time.) Why must you end in two days and RUIN MY LIFE?

I’m particularly mad at you, Bob Costas, for wearing those random yet intriguing glasses that kept disappearing and reappearing during last night’s primetime telecast. Why’d you wait ’til Day 13 to transform into Harry Potter’s wet hot American uncle? Those hipster specs of yours were just like the Olympics: As soon as you get invested — poof! They’re gone. Brutal.

Ugh, this always happens. I’m a slow starter — one of the many reasons I am not Olympic material — and never feel quite in sync with the Olympics until week 2, when they’ve become the norm. Big mistake. Huge. The Olympics are not a lifestyle. They’re a two-week tease, a 16-night stand who pees in the pool. I don’t need that in my life. Come on, Barrett. Stop relying on the magical athletes for basic human insights. YOU could exercise. YOU could try. Rethink possible!

The Olympics will just be hard to let go, is all. My estimation of humanity always shoots way up when they’re on. Everything just seems more civil. Sure, the idiot in front of me is taking forever in line, but you know what? It’s fine. He likely just wasn’t meant to medal in this event. Look at us all, chugging along the freeway in our cars, pacing ourselves in the race. Traffic suddenly seems sportsmanlike instead of soul-sucking. If my calf falls asleep from inactivity due to watching the Olympics, I’ll marvel at all the muscles I know are deep down in there, somewhere, almost certainly.

It turns out I like the world better during the Olympics. As I sit perfectly still, I realize I’ve never felt more alive.

The Olympics definitely change my perspective — not in any profound way, more like in a “duh” way that I’m normally too cloaked in self-absorption and internet cobwebs (from the day before, which may as well be 500 years ago; cue morning paranoia) to recognize. I become more practical and unforgiving instead of soft and full of excuses. They’re very simple, the Olympics. If you’re not the best at something, you don’t get to do it anymore. Sorry! The referee doesn’t want to flirt with you. Nobody’s rich dad can make a call. You can’t make it happen on your own merit? YOU GO HOME. That’s almost never the case in real life, where “the social game” has no rulebook and the main currency is bulls—. The Olympics are a utopian paradise! Filled to bursting with agony and defeat.

Wait, no, this is the best part. You don’t even go home — you go back to the VILLAGE! Is anyone else comforted just knowing that there’s an “Olympic Village” out there somewhere (too far away to comprehend in so many ways) right this second and it contains the tippy top humans in the world? And they’re just wriggling around, playing with each other, peeing all over the place, and sequestered for our viewing pleasure, even if just for two more days? Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of them: The Olympics are the greatest reality TV show in history.

And NBC’s about to cancel it! Come on, guys. Can’t America’s Got Talent just be the Olympics forever and ever? I’d recap it. I know you have enough unaired footage for many, many seasons. Seriously. Consider it.

Moving on!



Goodbye, bike/dreams. (10 out of 10 on the Damages Scale)

Man telling Aly Raisman’s dad to sit down

Get your filthy hands off our national treasure. (5)’s liberal use of “Dressage Highlights”

Really? This is a highlight? (10)

NEXT PAGE: You may be a prima donna diva or a beautiful swan, ladies.

French basketball player Nicolas Batum delivering a cheap shot against Spain

He’s what the French call Les Incompetents. (8)

This smiley guy frame-bombing Usain Bolt

Actually, no. He is awesome. (0)

This acid-washed, time-traveling firefighter who wants to get his hands on Misty May

For setting an impossible fashion standard at Horse Guards Parade. (9)

ANOTHER time traveling fashionista 20 feet away!

Who are these people?! (3)

Michelle Wu’s ‘Makeover Madness’ graphic

Not the point. (6.5)

Commentator Randy Moss

For name-checking “the Murderers’ Row of synchronized swimming” right at this moment (he was referring to Spain, China, and Russia performing back-to-back). (2)

Canada’s Melissa Tancredi

For stomping on U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd’s face and then running away! (10)

U.S. relay coach Jon Drummond

For saying “The relay is about managing personalities. You have prima donnas and divas, and I mean that in the nicest way.” (I think Jeneba Tarmoh heard him.) (7)

Cynthia Potter’s enthusiasm for botched Chinese dives

“And she splashed…WAY into the red zone!” (.007)

Taekwondo referees

Do they come straight from the office? (6 out of 10 on the Damages Scale)

NEXT PAGE: Ryan Seacrest and Aliya Mustafina, plus: My video replies to YOUR damages

Kerri Walsh’s giant watch

She’s NEVER accidentally shanked it on that thing? (3)

Olympians in general

They can do ANYTHING and still look hot (though this one, at 36, is “ancient”). (10)

Ryan Seacrest

He could be LYING and still no one would care! (4)

My tragic inbox during the Olympics

A wasteland of “You have no life” alerts and iPhone pics of my TV. (10)

Aliya Mustafina

I just really miss her. (10)


WHAT IS *YOUR* DAMAGE THIS WEEK, READERS? Tell me! This installment focuses on the Olympics, but it is your God-given right to bitch about anything you want, now that they’re almost OVER. Reader Damages for Aug. 10, 2012: I’ve ranked the following atrocities, submitted by readers this week, on a scale of 1 (harmless) to 10 (Heather Chandler).

–the impossibly perfect Nathan Adrian

–Misty May’s gold medal dance

–“MUSTAFINA. Her face is an automatic buzzkill.”

–gymnasts’ constant hugging

–Weird colored tape worn by athletes

–Sanya Richards-Ross’ arm warmers

–the urge to exercise to Jane Fonda’s Workout ’88

–Mary Carillo’s relegation to the late-night broadcast

–Bob Costas’ interviewing skills

–the Russian pole vaulter who wanted to be a gymnast but grew too tall

Click on the “answered questions” prompts in the video player below to see my assessments.

If the player isn’t working for you, go here!

Keep scrolling down in the video player for tons more Olympics-related damages. Costas! Seacrest! Man hiding in the wall at the bottom of the pool!

What is your damage? What is with you today? What’s with today, today? Let me know what’s annoying you by sending me a “question” in the video box. You can also tweet and/or e-mail me your damages. Do not mail me your damages. I do not believe in paper.

Why is this column called “What Is Your Damage?” Excellent question. Here you go.

Thanks for playing along!

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