Last week, at Thanksgiving dinners across the country, countless sons brought their new girlfriends home to meet mom for the first time. It was no different at one house in Baltimore -- except that the son was a 14-time gold medalist and the girlfriend was a buxom Vegas cocktail waitress who has posed nude for a number of risque Web sites.
Olympic hero Michael Phelps enjoyed Thanksgiving with his mother Debbie and his new girlfriend Caz Pal, a waitress he met three months ago while gambling at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. If various media reports are to be believed, the pair have been hot and heavy since meeting at the hotel's club, Fantasy Tower, in September.
It might seem strange for someone of Phelps' stature to be dating somebody with Pal's resume, but it's not all that surprising. Phelps, for all his swimming prowess and mega-stardom, seems a tad introverted. Behind closed doors he might be the life of the party, but in public, Phelps is a little awkward, a little goofy and a little uncomfortable in his own skin.
A cocktail waitress who poses nude shouldn't be good enough for Michael Phelps. Minor league baseball players date strippers. Famous, multi-millionaire athletes should be wooing Hollywood starlets, pop stars and/or an Olsen twin. Waitresses at the Palms are picked up by frat guys on spring break from Arizona State, not the most famous Olympian in the world. And if Phelps wanted somebody who posed nude, I'm sure Hef would certainly extend an invite to the Playboy mansion.
But, hey, Michael Phelps is 23 and should be getting as much mileage out of his stardom as he can. The last swimmer who crossed over into the People magazine demographic was Mark Spitz in 1972, so for Phelps to still be in the headlines four months after his Beijing triumph is an achievement in itself.