You did it. You practiced. You worked hard. You were determined. You were focused. And now, like it or not, you are a celebrity. So M.P., here is some preemptive advice for which you did not ask for but I can't help but give.
In our celeb-crazy world where girls are famous for showing off their yahoos while exiting pimped out rides and tweens are idolized for lip synching while wearing size zero designer duds, you are a breath of fresh air (especially for us moms trying to raise decent human beings). You are famous for doing something truly great--something that took blood, sweat, tears and time to achieve. You had to work. You had to want. And only then could you win. And you are gracious--a real team player evidenced by your extreme emotion throughout both relays.
My five-year old son is actually inspired. He wants to play "Michael Phelps" in the pool. You are now officially a water sport for kids. Last night, instead of reading books before bed, he asked for "that Michael Phelps" story referring to your interview with Bob Costas in which you talked about being bullied and overcoming obstacles as a middle schooler. Finally, I have someone famous to point to as a role model--a person achieving success due to good old fashioned hard work. You made your country proud. You made all us moms proud (no one more so than your own mom who was almost as fun to watch as you during the games).
So here it comes, my advice. Michael, you are a hero to kids everywhere. There's a new Mike to wanna be like. That's why I'm begging you, don't screw it up. I know you are only human. I get that you were once a gawky kid and now you are about to become a super sought after, really rich twentysomething. There will be girls, groupies and Grey Goose. But Michael, don't become one of them. Don't go clubbing with one of those Gossip Girls or some second rate pop starlet and stumble outside just in time for TMZ to catch you making an idiot out of yourself. You're better than that. We don't want to see your mugshot. We don't want to hear about you serving seven minutes in county jail. And we never want you to be somebody's illegitimate baby daddy (careful on that one--no doubt your boys can swim!).
Be famous for accomplishing something and use your celebrity wisely. We barely remember that DUI and after eight gold medals, we can totally forget it. But we need you. We need you to be Sports Illustrated famous, not the cover of US magazine famous.
Have fun. Enjoy your success. But try and remember that there are young children everywhere admiring and emulating you and there are their parents hoping against all Hollywood can offer that you'll be a champion--not just another celebrity. Come on, M.P., make us proud!
P.S. Go Blue!