One year, for Ashley's birthday, she asked for a very short list:
1. The Paul Mitchell haircare kit
2. A really large beach towel with elephants on the ends
3. An even larger trampoline
Ashley's list was especially good for her siblings. You see, she took one for the team in asking for the trampoline, because it was certainly a gift that all five of us could enjoy.
My favorite solo-activity on the trampoline was to put on my swimsuit from the IAC swim club and go out to the trampoline. I'd then perform certain tricks, which, in my head looked similar to Dominique Moceanu's floor and balance beam routine.
I'd say, out loud, "Now, with her floor routine, from the United States of America, Dominique Moceanu!"
I'd strike that perfect pose they have at the start of the routine, with their hands in the air, one leg out, back arched. I'd perform my routine, then land, again, just how those little gymnasts do. After landing, I'd turn and smile to all four sides of the stadium (aka my backyard).
Next, of course, I would announce my score, always above 9 but rarely a perfect 10 (obviously, let's be realistic).
After I finished my routine, I'd perform for the other countries. I'd always mess up or trip on purpose, then at the end I'd say, "Oh, only a score of 3 for Russia." or "China did not complete their beam routine." (I'm cool, I know).
Of course, the reason that I, one who is very far from being a gymnast, was so inspired to perform such routines in my Speedo was because of the Magnificent Seven. The only U.S. women's gymnastic team to win a gold medal.
What made them so great, though, was Keri Strug's finale. The one-legged hobble, but still a perfect landing made the 1996 Olympics ingrained in my brain forever.
And while Keri did not make the cut among these eight Olympic legends, her performance was undoubtedly memorable. Already, the memory of her routine has lasted much longer than the Paul Mitchell kit, the towel and the trampoline. Now that's staying power.