Marie, asked if she regrets not having any daughters, says, after a thoughtful pause, "Brian was supposed to be my daughter." The doctors said so, and she'd painted a room lavender. "When I saw what he was, I quit."
Larry once more pulls Dean's hood up. Dean stands, takes it off again and goes to win the discus with 206'1".
As soon as he has thrown, as in the weight room, the competitive tension leaves him. He and his parents talk of old fishing trips when their boat propeller fell off, leaving them adrift, or when Mitch caught a 200-pound sturgeon, or when Misty, the dog, heard someone in a passing boat say, "You want a bite of this?" and swam off into the night.
In Dean's telling, his father never had the fun the sons did. In Larry's telling, he casts himself as a kind of bumbling co-conspirator. "Remember when we were doing the muskrat hide tanning," he says, "and the boiling tannic acid exploded all over and ate its way through the linoleum. We thought we were being careful, but it even ate Mitch's socks."
We have left Mitch too much out of this account. He's over there in Idaho, but he's a true Crouser, the strongest of them all with a bench press of 515. His girl friend, Lisa Klapwyk, a geologist and ballet dancer, is his sometime coach. Yet we will leave it to him to capture the essence of how Larry Crouser raised such cheerfully eager sons.
"He was a positive influence without our even suspecting it," he says. "Here's an example. When Brian and Dean and I were little, we were stubborn about not eating stuff we didn't like. Weird spinach casseroles or something. One day Dad came home from work with a wooden case. He opened it up and showed us that it had three good solid spoons in it. Then he closed it. These are special, high-speed spoons,' he said. 'They are only for eating contests.' We're begging to use 'em, but he puts them away.
"After that, whenever dinner was something we hated, he made a big ritual out of taking out the case and giving us each a spoon and starting the stopwatch. Of course we were all so competitive, we'd race. We'd eat whatever it was in 20 seconds flat. And then he'd take the spoons and wash 'em and dry 'em and put them away with ceremony.
"And you know we never knew what he was doing. It was too exciting. I mean we only got to race about once a month.
"I was home recently and I saw a couple of those spoons in the back of the drawer. And I had all these feelings of nostalgia and regard for my dad, for how he could always make things fun."