This entry is not about the Wife-Carrying World Championships, which take place annually in Finland. However, it wouldn't hurt to have a little knowledge of this event, specifically the Estonian form of carry.
This is not about Michael Strahan, though it would help if you knew that he was a defensive end in the NFL. If you're at all familiar with American football, then you know Michael Strahan is a man of some size.
This is not about Kelly Ripa, except to point out that she is much, much smaller than Michael Strahan. She takes some pride in this and feels that the disparity in their sizes will make them serious contenders for winning the wife-carrying competition, even though they'll be racing against seasoned players.
In the days before the Finnish couple are due to appear on Live! with Kelly and Michael to compete, Kelly asks many times, "How can we not win? I'm so much smaller than you are!" She likens herself to other small things. "I'm like a little spider monkey. I have the body of an eleven year old boy! You won't even know I'm there!" My guess is that Kelly weighs about 90 pounds, or 6.4 stone. The only lighter adult I can think of would be my Teeny-Tiny dentist, whom I imagine weighs 88 pounds.
The biggest mistake a blogger can make is to underestimate her audience, and by now you've figured out this story is not about Kelly, Michael, Finland, elementary physics, tiny primates, eleven year old boys, or if it's appropriate that first prize for winning the wife-carrying competition is your wife's weight in beer. It's about hubris: about thinking you can do something because you once did something quite similar in another life, at a different weight, unfettered by spider monkeys, eleven year old boys, petite talk show hosts, or proficient and gentle dentists.
There was a moment about two-thirds of the way through my first pregnancy when I was riding on BART (in those days if you boarded at Concord, you always got a seat) and I had a frightening thought that had nothing to do with the copy of The Fountainhead in my lap. I thought, "I can no longer carry my own weight." Throughout my life I'd been able to squeeze into tiny spaces, crawl out windows, even do a few pull-ups in the Presidential Fitness Exam.
Then I comforted myself with the eroneous assumption that once I'd had the baby, I'd be a maneuverable person again. Okay, I'd conceded. Perhaps it would be a long time before I could carry my own weight gracefully because I'd be carrying others. But at some point, those spider monkeys children carry their own baggage, right?
Perhaps Michael Strahan had a better handle on his limitations than Kelly Ripa, and perhaps he knew that there was no way they could win this event or even make a good showing. The Finnish couple -- small, lithe, and maneuverable -- would fly past them at the first obstacle.
I like to think Michael Strahan was playing to win, because this is what atheletes are suposed to do. I'd like to think a small part of him was surprised that even though all his NFL training ran counter to the skills he'd need to win at wife-carrying (a quarterback would have had more of a chance), he believed his drive to win would compensate for any physical challenges he might encounter.
Failure should aways come as a shock, so I like to think Michael was shocked -- twice. The first time came when his team didn't win. And the second shock was that it didn't matter that Kelly was the weight of a spider monkey, or an eleven year old boy, or a mere two pounds heavier than Jen Sullivan's dentist. Michael Strahan may as well have been carrying nothing at all, because it was the weight of Strahan himself that put him at a disadvantage. He was not built to pull his body up a hill of mats with a rope assist and then slide down, nor was he built to run an obstacle course where the holes are barely larger than his own feet. He and Kelly never had the lead, not once.
If you've seen the episode, you'll remember that Michael Strahan does not drop Kelly at the first opportunity -- he kicks off his shoes first. Is he being polite, or is he simply reminding himself that the weight of Kelly was not why he lost?
You will remember, he did finish.