Some time ago, I took a PBS Newshour quiz called, “Do you live in a bubble?” Charles Murray, a political scientist theorizes in his book, Coming Apart, that certain Americans have little exposure to American culture at large. They therefore live in a social and culture bubble. If you’d like to take the test, you can click here.
Some of the questions that were asked were, “In high school, did you letter in anything? and “During the last five years, have you or your spouse gone fishing?” Most of my answers were ‘no.’ I would have to say that in our household, sports were a big zero — we did not watch football, basketball or baseball on television, even big events like the Super Bowl or the World Series. If you ask me, from year to year, as to what teams are playing in the Super Bowl, I couldn’t tell you.
Likewise when the pop artist, Prince, died recently, I could not say that I recognized a single one of his songs. I’m hopeless, right?
The one exception to this bubble-living, though, are the Olympics. Every four years, we would be glued to the TV set, and no matter what the sport— swimming, volleyball, track and field, ice skating, whatever — we were keen on watching it. Gymnastics, ice skating and diving were Carl Crosier’s favorites. I am especially thinking he would absolutely love watching the American women’s gymnastics team this year.
I remember the 2008 Beijing Olympics with some wistfulness and irony: that was the year that I underwent a craniotomy (my head was cut open!) to remove a benign brain tumor, and I spent three weeks recovering at home. Of course I spent most of those weeks watching the Olympics and Michael Phelps.
This year is no different, and although Carl is no longer here, I’m still watching the Olympics eagerly and wishing he were here to share it with me. But you know, in many ways, as I am practicing for my upcoming concert I think of myself as a musical Olympian — so much hard work that goes by in a flash during the performance. I think of my trills as tricky as iceskating jumps or gymnastic vaults, and the endurance needed to play an all-Bach concert as grueling as the marathon.
Guess what my bubble score was? Out of a possible 99, my score was 6, meaning that I am nearly completely disconnected from the average American culture at large.