Way back when in September of 1984.
But unlike Orwell’s vision of that year, mine was absolutely great.
I was at University in The Big Smoke.
I was young and the music was great and the days just packed.
It was the year Pope John Paul II came to town.
And the year I could have popped one on him.
Let me tell you the tale.
You see, I lived in Toronto for many years and 1984 was the first of them. I was, as I said, young and full of all that naïve young people energy. It was an absolute blast.
I used to play tennis back then, and play it very well. Maybe not as good as McEnroe (nobody could touch this guy on the courts in 1984) There was a tennis court right on Church street and I played there quite a bit, as well as the Downtown Tennis club on Front Street - which I think has long since disappeared. Still, I even played with the mayor there (beat him) and the girl that worked there had once dated the lead singer of Loverboy. I was watching Kate Bush videos on MTV. Ah, yes -
- I was living the high life.
So there I was, playing tennis on the courts on Church Street when suddenly traffic had stopped. An accident?
Was it my serve again?
People began to line the roadway and between shots I was looking over through the fencing to see what was up. It was distracting me and my game was suffering.
What the hell was going on?
Little did I know it, until a short while later, that the Pope was in town cruising Church Street (where else) in his shiny new Pope Mobile.
Finally, on down the street, I could see it (the pope mobile), but we still got in a few more rallies until it became irreverent to continue.
He was getting closer and I could see the whites of his outfit through the Plexiglas cage he was shielded behind.
I was thinking, wow that is the Pope. The big guy all the way from Rome.
I was sure at one point he looked right at me, the kind of look you figure Santa Claus gives to naughty kids he has scratched off his list.
And you may think that at that time I would have been thinking - I wonder if god really does exist - should I be a good person all the time . . .
. . . But no.
My one thought was this - I wonder if I could lob a tennis ball on top of the Pope Mobile and literally pop one on the Pope?
Yes, I know, there is a special little cubicle in hell all prepared for me, but I plan on not going there for a long time yet so that threat does not seem too immediate at present.
So, there I was, tennis ball in hand, the big holy icon himself not more than fifty yards away and me at the top of my game. I was sure I could actually hit him. Pretty damn sure.
There is a switch in my brain. Sometimes it closes, and at other times it opens. I’m never sure which state leads to which action, but on that day, way back in 1984 . . .
. . . I delivered myself from evil. I held on to the tennis ball and didn’t let it fly. Would I have made history? Likely.
I think any projectile, even a fuzzy half-worn tennis ball, heading for the Pope Mobile back in 1984 would have lead to a frenzied search for, and smack down, of the perpetrator. I was just at the start of my career, living the life in Toronto.
I didn’t want to mess that up.
So the Pope went on his merry way none the wiser, and I started rallying again with my opponent.
A guy in a Plexiglas car had gone by.
One of a billion synaptic decisions had been made.
A year of memories for me - great memories.