wine by the color

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

In non-Brett Favre matters...

It’s been 20 years since the Challenger exploded? I remember that like it was yesterday.

Joe Pendleton’s recent posts about the best and worst sporting events he’s attended, coupled with the 20-year anniversary of the Challenger, made me wonder what would constitute the 10 most memorable happenstances of my personal history. So I started a list on a cocktail napkin while enjoying 2-for-1 merlot night at a Chili's in Orlando. (I will discuss this visit to Chili's in more detail later, but I don't want to get sidetracked this early in the thought process.)

As a prelude, I’d like to note that I was in the womb for two major events:
-Neil Armstrong takes the first step on the moon (July 21, 1969)
-the Mets win their first World Series (October 16,1969)

That aside, here is my top 10, in chronological order:

1. The Bicentennial (July 4, 1976)

I remember attending a huge parade in Wildwood. I also recall participating in some sort of pageant in my elementary school's courtyard, resplendent in attire from the days of yore.

2. USA Beats the Soviet Union in the Olympic Hockey Semifinals (February 22, 1980)

My dad’s aunt and uncle, to whom we eventually stopped speaking because they were a special kind of crazy, were visiting. I was washing dishes when my mother told me to come watch the end of the game, because, as she said, “Lord knows when you might see this again.”

This made a huge impression in terms of the impact sports would have on my life for the next, well, 26 years and counting.

3. Challenger Explodes (January 28, 1986)

Fifteen years old, sitting in Spanish class. Senorita Rita (I kid you not) was standing at the front of the room when someone came in and announced that the Challenger had exploded. As that sunk in for the assemblage of honors Spanish students, a kid named Steve wise-cracked that "I bet the kids at that school get the rest of the day off" (meaning, of course, the students at Christa McAuliffe's school). Steve got the rest of the day off as well, as he was immediately sent to the principal's office.

Steve was killed in a helicopter accident in Iraq in November of 2003, just days shy of our 15-year anniversary. I'm not making any sort of karma-related connection between these two things. I just know that when I heard that sad news, the first thing I thought of was his comment that day.

4. The Mets win the 1986 World Series (Game 6, October 25; Game 7: October 27)

I watched these games on the floor of my parents' bedroom. When that ball went through Buckner's legs in Game 6, I jumped so high I was sure my head would hit the ceiling. Game 7, delayed a day due to weather, was almost anticlimactic but no less enjoyable. This was the first time a team I supported won anything, and I was appropriately ecstatic.

5. The Rodney King Riots (April 29, 1992)

(Ed. note: this refers to the resulting unrest in Columbus, Ohio)

I was in college and the Beckster and I were on the roof of our three-story apartment building (actually, it was her apartment, but my roommate that year didn’t have a sense of humor where our extracurricular activities were concerned, so I spent a lot of time on the Beckster’s couch) listening to Zeppelin and discussing the finer points of philosophical debates such as whose doughnuts were better, Buckeye Donuts or Jolly Pirate Donuts.

At some point we realized it was chaos in the streets of Columbus near campus. People were running up and down 16th Avenue; police were everywhere. It was insanity, but we were in no condition to investigate.

6. The OJ Simpson chase (June 17, 1994)/OJ Simpson found innocent (October 3, 1995)

I was at work when the verdict was read. More interestingly, on the day of the car chase my brother and I were driving to pick up one of my cousins for a Metallica concert at the Orange County Speedway. That was a strange night which ended in a near-riot at a McDonald's at a NY State Thruway rest area, when the establishment ran out of fries just as hundreds of fired up Metallica fans arrived.

7. Princess Diana Dies (August 31, 1997)

After having a drink or five at a party at the home of my senior prom date and his wife, I got home around 12:30 a.m. and turned on the TV as I hit the couch. Shortly thereafter, the news first appeared on the running scroll at the bottom of the screen. I remember watching the coverage all night thinking, "there is no way she's going to die." And then she did.

8. The Millenium (December 31, 1999/January 1, 2000)

My parents hosted a festive gathering for family and friends. This one makes the list mainly because of the anticipation of what would happen when the clock struck twelve.

9. Terrorist attacks (September 11, 2001)

I was at a tournament just outside Pittsburgh, about 60 miles from Shanksville, Pa., where the fourth plane went down. I won't go on and on about this but I remember arriving at the golf course, finding out about the planes, and trying to find my brother and cousin, who were working in the city at the time.

10. Ohio State Wins the National Championship (January 3, 2003)

I remember being so nervous during the game that I could barely eat. The 4-5 seconds between the dropped pass in the end zone on fourth down and the flag being thrown for interference seemed like it was 45 minutes. After the game, there was a barrage of phone calls to my uncle and cousin and the Beckster, and a lot of euphoric screaming.

After the game we hit the bars in Boulder, where I proceeded to get good and drunk. Drinking in high altitude was never a good thing for me. I believe there was illness, and I have a slight recollection of sleeping with one foot planted firmly on the floor, for fear the spins would kill me.

So that's the top 10, as far as I can recall. I'm sure I've forgotten something. Feel free to tell me what it is.

Can I also say how much easier the Internet must make life for kids today? I did all the research on dates for this post without moving anything but my fingers. No library, no newspaper, nada.


  • At 2/01/2006 8:24 AM, Blogger freakgirl said…

    I can't believe you didn't list our high school football team winning the state championships.

    Of course, I can't even remember what year that was.

  • At 2/01/2006 4:51 PM, Blogger jersey girl said…

    During our combined tenures at SHS, it would have been 1983, 1985 and 1986.

    Because, of course, I can't remember important dates, but I have no problem remembering things like that.

  • At 2/02/2006 12:58 AM, Blogger Joependleton said…

    I think it's scary that while you were 15 and dealing the Shuttle Exploding, I was in college dealing with the shuttle exploding. My goodness I'm old.

  • At 2/02/2006 9:56 AM, Blogger jersey girl said…

    You're not old.

    Just older.

  • At 2/03/2006 8:41 PM, Blogger SJPSandman said…

    Ah, comfort via Bon Jovi song titles. Joe P is "Just Older," and I'll "Sleep When I'm Dead."

    By the way, I, too, was at that Metallica concert at the Orange County Speedway the day of the OJ chase.

    As for the Rodney King riots, I was in Israel at the time, living in a dorm, listening to my dormmates from LA explaining over the telephone to their mothers and younger brothers how to load their shotguns in case of unwanted visitors.

    Good times.

    I think you know where I was on 10/25 and 10/27/86. Gotta give Papa Sandman credit for having season tickets during the 80's.

  • At 2/06/2006 11:38 AM, Blogger jersey girl said…

    Seriously, you were at that same Metallica concert? That is freaky.

    My college roommate and I figured out, years later, that we were at the same Whitesnake-Motley Crue concert back in the mid-80s. Good times.

  • At 7/24/2006 5:57 PM, Blogger zip1010 said…

    I was there too in Senorita Rita's class for the Challenger explosion. Next period, I had a science test in Mr. [can't think of his name right now]'s class. And, a decade earlier, we were at that bicentennial celebration together. I can recall the parade in the parking lot with Principal R.. leading the charge. My mother has a bunch of pictures from that day.


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