When I first met Tonya Harding, I was naked, and so was she.
20 years ago today, Tonya Harding's ex-husband hired bumbling wanna-be mobsters to whack Nancy Kerrigan on the knee so Tonya could be assured a spot on the Olympic team. Media was blitzed with the story as well as a video snipped of Kerrigan sitting on the floor sobbing as she screamed, "why!? why?!"
A couple of months later after the story broke and I was at the Olympic village in Lillehammer. The story continued to hold the headlines as new stories were breaking daily including more and greater suspicion that Tonya may have had a role in the affair. I had met Nancy on a few occasions and was on friendly terms with her, but it seemed impolite to even inquire about the matter.
The Olympic village is a safe haven with TV's, lounges, food, and even massage and physical therapy available 24/7. After a tough workout I decided to take advantage of the massage and entered the physical therapy area which featured dozens of massage tables in pairs each set facing one TV on a cart. I stripped down into just a towel and laid face down as the therapist began working on my calves and hamstrings. I watched Eurosport coverage of skiing with a bit of glazed indifference and tried to relax. At some pont as I turned my head to the right, I noticed someone had joined me on the second table. I knew it was a girl because of two towels and a pony tail, but had no idea who it was.
Just then two things happened. First the girl on the table next to me turned her head and our eyes locked - I was staring into the visage of none other than Tonya Harding. Just as that was sinking in another thing happened - on the TV, louder commentary intruded overtop the skiing that caused a hot rush of embarrassment to course through my veins, "Breaking news on the Nancy Kerrigan - Tonya Harding affair - new evidence has emerged that suggests possible knowledge or even tacit approval by Tonya Harding for the attack on Nancy Kerrigan." I was mortified. For some reason I felt like a voyeur - like I had intruded into someone else's private and embarrassing affair that had made its way into the light of day and I began to subtly turn my head the other direction.
Tonya had swiveled to see the TV, but the movement of my head caught her attention and she turned back to me, and her eyes moved over to the left side of the TV where the remote control was - just inches from my right hand. Her eyes returned to mine with excitement and not even the remotest hint of embarrassment. What she said next I'll never forget , "Turn it up! Turn it up! - I want to hear this!"
You can't make this stuff up. That was my time with Tonya.