Another day and more muddled information about who did what to whom in the tale of whether or not 12-time Olympic champ Ryan Lochte and three other American swimmers were robbed at gunpoint Sunday.
Let’s go to the videotape, shall we? Or rather several videotapes. Look, let’s just cut to the chase. It now appears that the tipsy lads stopped at a gas station, had to pee, either were denied bathroom privileges or decided to take matters in their own hands – peeing against a wall, ripping off the bathroom door – whereupon an armed security guard forced them at gunpoint to sit on the ground with their arms raised and in effect demanded money to pay for the damage. One man’s justice is another’s extortion. But anyway you slice it, Lochte lied. And for what? Because he didn’t want to get into trouble with his mother, Ileana? Really? At age 32?
All he had to do was give the guard money, apologize and keep his mouth shut. But no, he had to tell mommy, who, of course, was outraged that her baby was held up and talked it up. Now he’s all but a social pariah who has played into his detractors’ hands and why? For what? I think qualities are neither good nor bad but context makes it so. Context drives perception. The risk-taking that makes this merman a great swimmer makes him idiotic on land. Or maybe he thinks he works so hard that he deserves to drink and blow off steam. Or maybe he’s just so lacking in self-awareness – a classic sign of stupidity – that he doesn’t realize how he’s hurt himself.
Here is a person, as I have said as a fan, with a great heart, just terrific with kids. But that does not matter here. His behavior as the senior member of the quartet at age 32 was hardly that of a role model. It was boorish. It was false. And it was peculiarly immature. I can tell you that at 32, I didn’t care what my parents thought. I cared what I thought. I cared and care about my reputation. Because once you damage that, it’s hard to get it back.
People always ask me if I based the swimmers and tennis players in my debut novel “Water Music” on any actual swimmers and tennis players.
My characters may be psychologically damaged – that is the stuff of fiction – but they’re a lot better than this sordid, sorry bunch.