me up, Silliman,” my neighbor Lyle tells us, “Here’s a sport I can do.”
Lyle is talking the new rage of wife-carrying, an odd sport where a man
totes his wife 250 meters, the whole time the package is shouting
instructions. Sure, sounds like lots of fun.
“Mia’s been carrying me, so it’s time for me to step
up,” Lyle says. Lyle’s Thai wife, Mia
(yeah, we know, we thought her name meant Missing In Action, too, but
Lyle assures us that’s only in the bedroom) is a strapping 97 pounds so
Lyle thinks he’s got a big head start.
“So you think you can make it to Finland?” I ask
Lyle, “I don’t think you can run 250 yards (almost three football
fields) with no one on your back much less go over log hurdles, carry
her through a pond and do all that in close to a minute.”
Lyle always tries these strange sporting events. He
was excited about dwarf bowling. You know the sport where dwarfs are in
football outfits and helmets with a handle strapped to their shoulder
pads and you toss them into nerf bowling pins. Lyle practiced and all
into that sport until the dwarf bit him (something about Lyle putting
fingers where shouldn’t have) and then had to undergo tetanus shots
because they couldn’t find the dwarf.
Wife-Carrying as an organized sport was created by
the Finns with the first national championship held in Sonkajarvi in
1992. The rules are simple. A man carries a woman, doesn’t really
have to be his wife, through a 250-meter obstacle course. The “wife”
has to be 110 pounds or more, and if she’s not (Lyle needs to know
this) a weighted sack is added to equalize the weights. The woman must
wear a safety helmet and if she’s dropped there’s a 15 second penalty,
substantially more when they get home… if she’s the real wife.
The carry can be by piggy-back, fireman’s carry, bride’s carry, or
bandit’s carry. The prizes are not big. The winner gets $ 5 per pound
of the wife’s weight plus her weight in beer.
I don’t think Lyle’s knows what he’s in for. It’s
one thing to carry a 110 pound sack of potatoes over your shoulders for
three football fields in about a minute. It would be quite another
thing if that sack is screaming at you “Watch out. Can you drive a
little smoother? Don’t drop me. Hold me up when we go through the
water. Do you want me to get my hair wet? When we win I want to look
good for the pictures. Is your stomach growling? I can hear your
stomach growling. Let me know when we’re going through the sand. I want
to cover my face. That lady over there that Jerry’s carrying, do you
see her? Is my butt bigger than hers? Okay, I know, you’re going to say
‘What butt’. This is no time to make a joke. Oh, no! My lipstick has
fallen out of my purse.
Can you go back and let me...? You want to look for it after the race?
Okay, but if my lips look sappy, you know who’s to blame. Catch up with
those Estonians, can you? She looks like a jockey… and she’s whipping
him. Why didn’t you get me a whip? Huh? I asked you a question.
You don’t listen to me do you? I thought we were in this together. If I
just wanted to go for a ride and not communicate, I would have taken a
In the US, the North American championship is held
in Newry, Maine. I’m betting Lyle doesn’t make it that far, especially
after the above paragraph.