It's go time, baby! Grab your sunscreen, your sleeping bag, your passport - we're outta here, we're burning rubber, we're tearing up Highway 99 like there is no tomorrow. It's 5 p.m. Friday and we're off into the sunset like a bullet, heading due south along the windy west coast, the left coast, the best coast. Next stop Cali. We're on top of the world, we own the world, we are better than the world.
Quatchi's sitting in the passenger seat, belting out tunes to get us all even more amped on the stoked. " Don't stop, believing! Hold on to that feeling." His voice isn't that of an angel, but man, does he do this awesome twangy thing at the end of each verse in perfect timing with the drum roll that just makes my blood stop pulsing for a moment. "Streetlights, people, oooh!" Fantastic.
"Dude, the first thing I'm going to do when we arrive is change into my swimsuit, and, no, I'm not getting out of it until we head back to Canada," Quatchi gives Sumi a high-five.
"You realize the water's kind of cold still. We're not going that far south," I retort.
"I don't care, I am just so happy to be finally done, and I can't think of any better way to celebrate than spending two weeks in my swimsuit. Goodbye responsibility."
"PAARTY TIME!" yells Miga suddenly from the backseat.
"Quatch, where are you finding this kind of energy?" says Sumi. "I'm bone tired. All I want to do is lie on the beach, comatose."
"Sumster, don't even start. VANOC only required you to be at half the events that they made me go to, and when you did show up, no one expected you to do anything but give hugs. Me? I showed up and everyone expected me to dance, for hours on end. And I had to be everywhere, all the time. It was exhausting," he says. "But hey - now I'm free. Goodbye responsibility. Two years of around-the-clock labour, and now I'm on E.I, sweet, sweet E.I. You bet I'm going to celebrate in my swimsuit."
"PAARTY TIME!" Miga yells again from the backseat.
We're quiet for a moment.
"What do you guys plan to do now that the Games are over anyway?" I ask. "Your lives for the past two years have been dedicated solely to the Olympics and Paralympics. They were your identity. They defined you. Just like the rest of Whistler. You guys were mini-celebrities, almost. The whole world was watching you all the time. And watching Whistler. And now it is over. The responsibility is over. That must feel kind of deflating. Just like it must feel deflating for the rest of Whistler."
"I was shell shocked on March 22 to wake up and not hear anyone chanting my name as I walked down the Village Stroll," says Sumi. "It's almost like the Games had never happened."
"Are you kidding me? It was a relief," says Quatchi. "Hordes of children have been stalking me for months! I couldn't even go to the grocery store without being harassed. And don't get me started on the paparazzi. Little sleaze bags where everywhere. I'm riding out this post-Olympic wave of irresponsibility as far as I can. I might get a job as a dishwasher or a waiter, just keep it low key."
"I'm thinking London," says Sumi.
"And then Sochi."
"Aren't you afraid of just looking like a washed up has-been?"
"I don't know what else there is for me," confesses Sumi. "I have no real skills, and my looks aren't going to last forever. I figure my only shot is to do whatever I can in other host Olympic places. I'll busk on the street if I have to. Besides, everyone likes a Canadian accent. Hey, can we stop in Vegas on the way back up?"
"PAARTY TIME!" Miga yells.
"Have you thought about writing down your memoirs?" I ask.
"Would you read them?" asks Sumi.
"Probably not but maybe somebody would. Everyone loves a good B-grade celebrity story, no matter how badly it's written. People will read anyth-"
"-Guys! We forgot something important," says Quatchi.
"What? What's so important? We've got sunscreen, cash money, lots of snacks. Besides the Olympics are over and we're free of responsibility for the next while. Just like everyone else in Whistler. We don't have to worry about anything. We are just riding out this post-Olympic wave for all it's worth. Just like the rest of Whistler."
"But we forgot Muk Muk."
And with that, we pull a U-turn on Highway 99 and suddenly grasp at the fact that the magic of the Winter Games might not sustain us indefinitely. That we might still have to think if we want to succeed.