Fourth-Place Medal

London’s mayor compares volleyball players to ‘wet otters’

Fourth-Place Medal

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(Associated Press)

Sunday night, London's wavy-haired mayor, Boris Johnson, wrote a column in the Telegraph listing "20 jolly good reasons to feel cheerful about the Games."  No. 19 takes the cake:

As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalized by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators' sou'westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers.

We are left to wonder what the married mayor meant by the "glistening like wet otters" comparison. At first glance, it is difficult to spot any similarities between women's volleyball players and wet otters.  But take a closer look …

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Side-by-side comparison

Both travel in pairs. Take, for example, the Oriental small-clawed otters, which pair off for life.

Both have long, slim, muscular bodies.

Both spend their fair share of time beside the water. The historic Horse Guards Parade venue may be landlocked, but the sport originated by the sea.

Both are active creatures. They earn their bread and butter by diving, dipping, rolling and chasing.

Finally, both are playful. Otters are some of nature's most fun-loving creatures. Otters young and old commonly wrestle each other, throw and bounce things, or slide down muddy paths. They do it not for food or survival but for the sheer enjoyment of play.

And maybe that's what wacky Mayor Johnson was getting at. The Olympics may be ceremonial, formal and official, but, when it comes down to it, it's playtime.  And nothing says "play" better than beach volleyball, with its skimpy bathing suits, cheerleaders, unlimited beer, wacky shades and conga lines.

[ Related: Unlimited beer at Horse Guards Parade volleyball venue ]

These Games are bringing out the fun side of formal, traditional London, and Johnson is loving every minute of it. The queen is skydiving with James Bond. Mr. Bean is blowing his nose through "Chariots of Fire." And stoic palace guards are cranking their long-frozen necks to see bikini-clad volleyball players roll around in the sand. Like otters, you could say.

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