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Seuss The sun would not shine, and the skies had gone gray. The athletes were leaving Beijing on that day. I sat there with Sally. We sat at The Tree after seeing off houseguests at Terminal 3. No fun to go out, even beer wouldn’t do do, and I said, “How I wish the Olympics weren’t through.” All the athletes were gone. They had packed up their bags, which they stuffed full of medals and tracksuits and flags, and tchotchkies and gewgaws and trinkets and all, and T-shirts that boasted “I Climbed the Great Wall” They went to the airport and waved as they left leaving all of us feeling forlorn and bereft. For every Beijinger could warmly recall— unless they had hearts that were three sizes small— how a big silly grin had crossed everyone’s face and we all held our arms out in loving embrace. And even the Grinches and critical-minded were swept up in joy and bedazzled, be-blinded! Our city was blessed with such bright sunny days— a welcome relief from the regular haze— and even the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, might have found some brief respite from asthmatic wheeze. How lovely the traffic with half of the cars! How quiet the nightlife with half of the bars! And those twinkilly things in the sky they call “stars” which I don’t think I’d seen since the era of SARS. Neither Lin Miaoke’s lip-synch nor He Kexin’s age Nor the sweat-beads that beaded on poor Jimmy Page Took the shine off Beijing as she took to the stage. Tunisia, Malaysia, Moldova, Mauritius, all went home with medals and satisfied wishes. But China, of course, had a hundred times more, (and fifty-one gold ones, but who’s keeping score?) And to think that so many of us were so cynical! Snarkily sniping in tones unequivocal, touting our plans to leave town for the Games and to go home instead to Geneva or Ames! I’m glad that we stayed and I have no regrets. I cleaned up on diving and badminton bets! The soccer team lost, but they covered my spread And by close of the Games I was nine wan ahead. So what if the national football team choked? So what if the basketball team, too, got smoked? It’s not like I’d credit a punter who’d thunk it were likely we’d beat NBA guys who dunk it so often the games even got kinda boring— so often that often I’d catch Sally snoring! Enough about wagers. You don’t want to hear it. It isn’t in line with Olympian spirit. My winnings can’t buy back that sense of elation At watching the athletes from every which nation Parade through the Bird’s Nest with faces aglow
At the Zhang-iest, Mou-iest, Zhang Yimou show. But now it’s all over. It’s time to come down. and take down the banners that festooned our town. It’s time to let go of our Summer Game yearnings And get back to basics and boost export earnings. “Inflation, hot money, and big asset bubbles Are only a few of the menacing troubles,” lugubrious eggheads remind us now daily “So get back to work! No more acting so gaily!” We know that they’re right, and we’ll all play our parts, but we still feel a longing down deep in our hearts. We try watching footage of Bolt and of Phelps, but in throes of withdrawals we find little that helps. Now Sally is off to her therapy session for symptoms that feel like post-partum depression. And Liu Xiang’s at home with his poor injured tendon (a tendon we pray is now speedily mendin’) while we sit around feeling all droopy and down, with blues that you use when the circus leaves town and leaves you there frowning a blubbery frown like the grease-painted face of a very sad clown. I know I’ll get better. I know that I ought, for time heals what self-medication cannot. Beijing will retain at least some of its pride— the Nest and the Cube and new subways to ride. Those vast sums of money were clearly well spent (With our ForEx reserves, it made hardly a dent) I’m anxious to see how the city of London comes up with such mountainous mountains of fundin’ I’m sure that they’ll put on a fabulous show The athletes will shine and the Guinness will flow. But matching Beijing will be too much to handle I’ll bet they do great, but they won’t hold a candle. So good luck to London! I’ll end on this note: In four years I’ll honestly try not to gloat.