Went to the masters nationals swimming championships in Greensboro, North Carolina this past weekend. It's basically the best party I ever go to.
It's not that I haven't been to other kinds of parties.
College mixers were just exercises in youthful lameness.
At suburban barbecues I usually feel like a visitor from another planet, trying hard (and unsuccessfully) to blend in with the locals.
Corporate "parties" are pretty much just an extension of the work day, which is about as appealing as it sounds. Plus pulling all those knives out of your back later on is always a bit discomfiting.
Nightclubs have their own ambiance: the lighting is low, the women wear slinky outfits, and the liquor flows freely. It can be entrancing, but all I can ever think about is how much money I'm spending.
All these parties last (thankfully) for only three or four hours. Then you wake up tired and hungover the next morning.
Masters nationals is different. The ostensible reason for the weekend is to race, and the competition is taken seriously. But essentially it's a large group of like-minded people getting together for three days to celebrate their good health and fitness.
Part of the reason that people come back to competitive swimming in adulthood is because it brings them back to their happy childhoods -- happy because their parents treated them well. Good parents generally result in good offspring, and that's why it's a pleasant crowd at the meet.
It's also a good-looking crowd, especially on an age-adjusted basis. And they're hanging out in their bathing suits. There were plenty of over-50 women that have to be described as very attractive. Not as in, My, she's well-preserved for her age, but as in, Wow, is she hot!
Of course, as far as the health goes, you never know. Yesterday Norwegian Alexander Dale Oen, 26, died of a heart attack after training at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona. He won the 100 meter breaststroke at the world championships last summer, and had been favored to win this summer in London.
All the more reason to celebrate your health and fitness while you can, I guess.