Maxed out 

Happy trails?

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I grew up in the Era of the Cowboy.  I don't say that in a sepia-toned, nostalgic way. I don't miss my toy guns, cowboy hat, chaps, vest and whatever other regalia I relentlessly beat my parents into submission to buy me, promising to be good, promising the object of my transitory desire would be the last thing I ever begged them for, promising... whatever seemed to be called for at that moment; after all, promises were cheap and cowboy stuff was dear, who wouldn't strike that kind of bargain?

The first time I ever got to ride an actual horse, I thought I'd burst with anticipation. I wanted to gallop that sucker across the purple sage, cowboy hat flying behind me, its cord strangling my scrawny neck all Cisco Kid style. Of course, the ride turned out to be more nose-to-butt, slo-mo poke than gallop, a gift as it turned out since the first time I ever straddled a horse at anywhere near a gallop I had an immediate, close encounter with the ground and swore I could hear the horse laughing.

But something happened near the end of the ride that puzzled me. As if responding to an unseen hand, an unheard command, the horses - all of them - came to life. They held their heads high, sniffed the air, doubled their pace from plodding death march to spirited walk and, yes, may have even approached a saunter, whatever the heck that is. It was my first horse-approaches-barn experience, even though it would take a few more before I realized that's what it was.

So happy were those swaybacked, greenhorn-fatigued horses at the mere thought of getting us the hell off their backs and hanging out near their food source that they jumpstarted their indifference and beelined back to the comforts of home. Had there been a wall of fire between us and the barn, I wouldn't have bet against the horses dashing right through it, so single-minded was their dash to the end.

I'm feeling pretty much the same way about the Olympics these days.

I'd walk through fire if it would make April 2010 an immediate reality.  Unfortunately, we all still have to carry this overweight, bloated, and for many of us, unwelcome interloper around on our breaking backs until we get back to the barn nine months from now. I feel like I'm carrying quintuplets... or five of the seven rings of hell.

While an ember of optimism about Whistler's post-Olympic reality still glows deep within my psyche, though ever-so dimly, it seems the probability is greater we will lose more in the end than we gain from this pact with the devil. Perhaps that's what comes from holding on to a dream for too long.

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