Off Limits

Spit happens to hometown girl Amy Van Dyken. During Saturday's Olympics coverage, NBC's camera caught the spittin' image of Van Dyken engaged in a trademark intimidation tactic: hawking a loogie into a competing swimmer's lane, in this case that of Dutch rival Inge de Bruijn. NBC swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines was so impressed with the salivo salvo that he remarked on how "very pronounced" the spittle was and posited that it might have been more than a good-luck gleek. Apparently so: Van Dyken, who won the gold in the 50-meter freestyle in 1996, lost badly to de Bruijn in the finals, dashing this country's high expectorations for another first-place medal.

But while the act generated network discussion through much of the day, Denver's dailies didn't so much as mention it Sunday morning. Perhaps that's because spit happens so often around here. Denver's most notorious designated spitter is Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski, who let fly at San Francisco 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes back in 1997. But Van Dyken, a Lone Tree resident, is much more eager to share her liquid assets: She even spits into the lanes of teammates like Dara Torres, who was the recipient of some cool drool at the Olympic trials in Indianapolis back in August. In fact, Van Dyken, who's engaged to Broncos punter Tom Rouen, has happily acknowledged her rather vulgar strategy and once claimed to have taught family friend Romo how to spit.

Straight shooter: Van Dyken isn't the only Colorado resident to get caught in the act, though. On September 19, John Paulk was spotted in a Washington, D.C., gay bar -- a sighting that made the news because Paulk, who moved to Colorado Springs a few years ago and now works for Focus on the Family, is the country's most famous "ex-gay" poster boy. After joining Exodus International, a ministry that encourages gays to become straight ("Fact or Friction," October 1, 1998), Paulk and his wife, Anne, a self-proclaimed former lesbian prostitute, appeared on the cover of Newsweek to say that if they had changed, any homosexual could.

And then, just two years later, an employee of the Human Rights Campaign recognizes Paulk at the bar in a D.C. club. Initially, Paulk told the HRC and several media outlets that he'd gone inside the bar to use a restroom and didn't know it was a gay bar. Later, in a written statement, he said, "I had not been in [a gay bar] in 15 years, and I was curious because I speak frequently about the gay-bar experience. I stayed a while. That was my mistake."


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