The answer, finally, came on a bus ride back to Lillehammer from the short-track speed skating event in Hamar on the next-to-last night of the Games. The trip was made in darkness for an hour, traveling the road along the far side of Lake Mj�sa, but suddenly the ski jumps could be spotted at the Olympic Stadium. They were illuminated, two grand slashes of light on the dark countryside ahead. All of a sudden an explosion broke above them. And another. And another. Fireworks. Fireworks?
"Aha," I said. "That's it."
Not fishy at all. The buildings are constructed of gingerbread. The snow is really ice cream. The king of Norway is named Hansel and the queen is named Gretel, and the only way to reach this country is to fall through a wide rabbit hole or to be swept away by a cyclone. The capital is Oz, not Oslo.
You read it here first. The XVII Winter Olympics did not exist. Norway did not exist. These were the fairy-tale Games, drawn from the imagination, staged in the pages of a children's book. They could not exist. Reality cannot be this good.