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Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear Abby: Lance A Lot

Did Lance Armstrong not pay attention to Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, or Pinocchio?

How about Enron, Bernie Madoff, or Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men?

Apparently not.

He thought he was better, faster, stronger. Smarter, more cunning, more lawyered-up. That he could pedal himself away from the truth.

Of course he couldn't. Of course the truth eventually caught up with him and bit him in the padded Lycra of his behind. Of course he's now the most famous name in biking, but in the exact opposite light he lied so long to achieve.

A reader asked for my thoughts on the whole scandal. I suppose the above about sums it up.

But there's more.

I knew all along that Lance was a plain old liar. No, I haven't yet been contacted by Dateline or Barbara Walters or Donald Trump. I've been keeping my insider's knowledge to myself so that I could share it first with you, my loyal readers.

I know why the yellow jersey bird sings. I know what he did those summers. I know this much is true.

  1. When I was studying abroad in France in 2000, I bumped into Lance after an early morning training run. Over a couple of pains au chocolat, we chatted about everything we missed back in the good 'ol U.S. of A. I listed things like real bathrooms and take-out coffee. He listed things like overnight needle delivery and on-line pharmacies. At the time, I was confused. I didn't dwell on it, though, because then he began prattling on about how much he appreciated life abroad because it allowed him to perfect his French. I encouraged him to demonstrate his proficiency. At which point he donned a beret, held a cigarette in his hand, and said "bonjour" over and over again, simply changing his inflections, as if he was saying things other than the exact same word.
  2. Just before my college graduation in 2001, I walked up to a table set up on our quad to inquire about the credit cards being peddled. Imagine my surprise when Lance looked up from a pile of card applications and began his sales pitch. He talked about how I would get a 0% interest rate during the time it took me to fill out the forms, and that as soon as I got an actual card, that rate would jump to a friendly 43%. Not to worry, he said. That rate would never kick in because I (a) looked like someone who would pay on time; and (b) the lady that works the billing system is usually drunk. "Trust me," he kept saying. "Trust me...."
  3. During law school, I got an email from some guy "in Africa" begging me to transfer $20,000 to his bank account so that he could save his family from the hum of vuvuzelas. For some reason, I decided to respond with a polite decline. Then HE responded and really turned up the heat, calling me an ugly pariah with an embarrassing BMI. He signed the email "Lanceobubu Armngalastrong." I just sighed and hit delete.
  4. When we were living in Washington, D.C., I decided to take my daughter to the Air & Space Museum one afternoon. I noticed a crowd gathering by the Apollo 11 command module. There was a skinny guy standing in the middle of the throng, and he kept referring to himself as "Mr. Armstrong." He talked about how he, "Mr. Armstrong," had taken one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, and joked about how much of a pain lunar dust is to brush off. His audience was kind of jazzed up about about getting a first-hand account of history. But I noticed a bike propped up nearby, a LIVESTRONG bracelet on his bony wrist, and Sheryl Crow songs on a loop on his iPod. I shook my head and towed my daughter to The Spirit of St. Louis exhibit.
  5. Last Christmas, I took my kids to the mall to see Santa. We had to wait in line FOREVER. Not because there were a lot of other kids in line. But because mall Santa was engaged in a heated argument with Lance, who kept insisting "I am the real Santa! I bring gifts to children of all ages all over the world! I can ride my bike from the North Pole to the South Pole in one night! I can! Seriously! I AM SANTA!!!!" Which prompted a really awkward conversation between my kids and I.
So there you have it.

Out of the view of this picture, a fortune teller is holding her pointer finger in a horizontal line, so the true shot reads "negative 7."

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