kim zmeskal & my terrible bangs

The Olympics.  How can you NOT love them? I have been loving(!) the Olympics this year and all the going for the gold.  Most of all I have loved women’s gymnastics.  I always have.

Want to know the names of the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics teams for the past decade or so? I could tell you.

When I was a wee one, my sisters and I were obsessed with gymnastics. We subjected my parents to multiple hour long performances of the gymnastic routines we had a made up.  On our family vacations (read: multiple days spent driving in a mini-van…I’ve since redefined the word ‘vacation’ that’s for sure) we’d play nothing other than the Gymnast Game. Duh.

Older sister, Michelle  - Okay you’re turn.   Me – Okay, hmmm, I’m ready.
Michelle – Is your gymnast a female?    Me – Yes
Michelle – Is she from Romania?    Me – No
Michelle – Russia?    Me – Yes
Michelle – Is it Svetlana Boginskaya  Me – No
Michelle -Does she have blonde hair?   Me – Yes
Michelle – Is it Svetlana Khorkina?  Me – YES!

And thus it would repeat.  My poor parents…and brother.  In our defense, it was a pretty clever and quiet car game for a 6 year old and 8 year old to come up with.

Everything went awry in this whole gymnastic obsession, when one day Michelle was going to get her haircut.  On the way out the door Michelle grabbed a copy of USA Gymnastics magazine (yep, we had a subscription).
What are you doing? - I asked.
Nothing  – She says in a way that every younger sister knows actually means ‘something.
No what? What is it!?
She sighs and discloses her secret – I’m going to have Maria cut my bangs like Kim Zmeskal’s.
Oh cool -  I mutter, shrugging as if I don’t care while internally thinking
DANGIT! That’s b-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t.  Bangs like Kim? Why didn’t I think of that first?”

Kim Zmeskal. We adored dear Kim.  She was the raining world champ, expected to win gold in the ’92 games, and had the coolest floor routine to Rock Around the Clock (you can bet we knew that routine by heart).

Following my true chameleon-like nature and before even stopping to ACTUALLY look at Kim’s bangs OR my sister’s for that matter after they were cut to see if I even liked them (and really one only needed to look closely for all of 4 seconds to realize that they were terrible bangs), I quickly decided that I too, needed new bangs!

However, at this point in my career as a younger sister I had learned that you can’t straight up copy your older sister.  Plus when you grow up in a family of 6 your life entails endlessly attempting (and failing) to differentiate and gain a sense of self (“Dad! My name is STEPHANIE, not Christine!“).

So…of course I made the smartest decision possible:
Fine, you have bangs like Kim. I’LL have bangs like SHANNON MILLER.
(How’s that for differentiating?)

Shannon was Kim’s counterpart in the ’92 game who ended up suprising everyone, doing better than Kim, and going on to compete in the ’96 games as well as part of the Magnificent Seven.

She was a really remarkable gymnast.
And, she had really terrible bangs.

I attempted to follow suit, but apparently only succeeded in the latter as my gymnastic career ended at the ripe age of 11.

However. The bangs.
They stuck through the entirety of those terrible middle school years.

Sigh. I’ve clearly sacrificed a lot for the love of this sport.

Lessons learned:
+ If you have to use a half bottle of aerosol hairspray to get your bangs to the appropriate height, it’s the tell tale sign of a hair style one should never have.
+ Gabby Douglas, for the sake of all young girls in the world, please choose your future hairstyle carefully.

Editor’s Notes
+ I may or may not have continued to adapt Shannon’s bangs by continually adding extra layers of curls such that at one point I had three distinct layers of bangs. (The pictures were just too horrible. You’ll have to use your imagination.)

+In writing this blog post I texted my parents:
Hey can you send me a picture from the 5-7th grade when I had really terrible bangs?
Mom replies – We already left the house for the day and will be at the office all day.
Dad - That’s okay. I have the perfect picture in my office that I can send you. 
Me – Glad you know exactly what I’m referring to when I say ‘bad bangs.

When your dad sometimes has trouble remembering your name at time, but instantly knows he has a picture of your bad bangs…..yikes.

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