Time to let boogongs be boogongs
Only at the Sydney Olympics would Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat score a perfect 10 off the high diving board.
Where else would Eric the Eel and Paula the Porpoise be hailed as Olympic swimming heroes for crawling almost to a halt?
Bogong moths dive-bombing the athletes, drag queens being asked to join the closing ceremony -- for the quirky and the offbeat, Australia gets the gold medal.
"Jumping Jai" Tairuma, the surf dude who leapt to long jump glory on a pack of cigarettes a day and a diet of junk food and beer, won instant cult status with hedonistic Sydneysiders for landing a silver medal.
For Australians do love to party hard and deflate the pomposity of the self-righteous.
And for that, there was no better vehicle than "The Dream", a television satire programme that became compulsory Olympic viewing every night. Even American tennis legend Billie-Jean King joined in as a newscaster.
Its irreverent mascot Fatso was a big-bummed, cuddly toy wombat which trotted across the screen leaving golden droppings to commemorate magic Olympic moments.
He even beat the official mascots -- Syd the Platypus, Ollie the Kookaburra and Millie the Echidna -- in a staged high dive.
Australians have a very Monty Pythonesque sense of the ridiculous and "The Dream" loved to focus, amid much ribaldry, on the submissive "parterre" positions adopted on the mat by wrestlers.
The Channel 7 programme even poked fun at Princess Anne. Queen Elizabeth's daughter was impishly admired as a sex symbol judging by the fulsome reaction of the coxless fours in their body-hugging lycra outfits when she presented them with medals.
Everyone loves a plucky loser and Sydney wholeheartedly embraced Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea who swam the slowest race in Olympic history. Not to be outdone, compatriot Paula Barila Balopa also almost disappeared beneath the waves.
On Bondi Beach, Moussambani had surfing lessons and gaped in awe at all the Olympian legends wearing "Eric the Eel" T-shirts.
He shook hands with his hero, Australian star Michael Klim who told Eric: "You are a famous man. I don't have a T-shirt with my name on it."
To the new arrival, Australia seems to be full of creatures that can't wait to have you for their lunch.
And the Olympics were no exception -- snakes slithered out of the undergrowth at the cycling and equestrian events, divers watched out for sharks as the triathlon competitors swam across Sydney harbour.
Wildlife certainly put on an impressive display with whales cruising the sailing course, magpies dive-bombing the mountain bikers and giant bogong moths swooping on Stadium Australia.
But perhaps the greatest transformation came with the humans in a city where poseurs abound and Sydneysiders are convinced they are the centre of the universe.
In the memorable phrase of opening ceremony impresario Ric Birch, Sydney usually eats its children.
But in the happy, smiley Olympics where "G'Day" was on everyone's lips, one commentator wondered if Australia's saturnine Olympics Minister Michael Knight had perhaps slipped Prozac in the city's water supply.
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