Monday, March 1, 2010

To Speak of Living in an Olympic City During the Fever -

Mum has had a splendid Olympics.  She's been covertly staring at the athletes in the streets (the breadth of their shoulders and thighs speaking of feats of strength and daring that merely mortal men ken not) and knew that Olympic madness had reached a feverish pitch when the cashier at her local supermarket admired the Olympic pin on the lapel of her coat. She promptly took it off and handed it to him - he burst into tears and kissed her hands and handed her a free chocolate bar.  And told her that he had one more pin in his Olympic Pin collection than his best friend did.

The day of the Opening Ceremony, Mum went downtown to watch the torch relay.  The streets were mobbed and she was running late and all she saw was the flame of the torch above the heads of a massive police escort.  As she bobbed about on the sidewalk, straining hopelessly for a better view, an impressive policemen on his imposing police motorcycle saw her lifting her camera up over police shoulders, and dismounted to approach her with measured tread and intimidating visage.
            "Ma'am" he said.
            "Aw HECK."  Mum thought.  "This is the Olympics- I'm not standing in front of  some photo-proscribed public building.  And this is CANADA - for crying out loud.  Not the US. This isn’t city hall.  If he tries to - why, I'll - I'll..."
            "Would you like to sit on my motor cycle, Ma'am?"
And she did.  And the magnificent man took photos of her pretending to ride it and wishing that she owned a pair of leather trousers and some studded motorcycle boots.

A little later, wandering happily down the sidewalk, she bumped into a torch bearer who had just finished her leg, who asked if Mum would like to hold her torch for a bit while the nice man next to her took photos.
She allowed as how maybe she would, and stood there in a haze of glee holding the Olympic Torch while camera flashes went off all around her.

Wandering home on an Olympic-sized cloud, she passed the Vancouver Convention Center and saw that a stretch of netting had been put up across the front entrance.  Behind it was a big sculpture that hadn't been there a day earlier.  An Olympic volunteer standing guard had no more idea what it was than she did, so she shrugged and blissed off home.
That evening, Mum and Dad watched the opening ceremony on television.  When the ceremony reached the moment of the lighting of the flame, they were a bit puzzled to see Mr Gretzky dip the flame to the Olympic basin and THEN hear the announcer say that "now Mr Gretzky will go and light the flame that will burn over Vancouver for the duration of the games" (I paraphrase.)
Mum's brain went "click" and she shouted "I KNOW WHAT THAT SCULPTURE IS!"
She ran for the door, grabbing her coat and keys as she ran.  Dad was right behind her - he tangled in his coat and scarf at the door - he couldn't keep up - he shouted "Go!  Go!" and she - just - RAN.  The streets were like a flooding tide - all the local residents who'd made the same connection were coming down out of the buildings and running with her, and she made it to the convention center at the head of the flood and had a view from right against the crowd-barrier as Wayne Gretzky arrived on the back of a truck and lit the flame there.  And then the fireworks went up from a barge just offshore and lit up the sky right over he head.

And Mum called yesterday to tell me that she'd gone out for coffee- and on the way, walked past one of the venues.  Outside the security cordon, two separate sets of scalpers were having two separate fist-fights over territory.
It's a GOOD olympics.

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