There are days that completely change the rest of your life.
Usually you don’t see them coming – or even realize how important they are until a little time has passed.
At least that’s how it was for me on Sept. 12, 1985.
It was a pretty decent day for the Mets, too, taking the rubber game of a series with the Cards. It was tough being a Mets fan and going to school in Missouri at the height of the Mets-Cards rivalry. And this game was important because we were chasing them for the division crown and building for an even bigger showdown later in the month. The Mets took this one 7-6, a patented Jesse Orosco vulture win after he let Willie McGee tie the game in the ninth with a homer. But the Mets came back with a walk-off win.
I’ll have to ask Mark Simon of the amazing Mets Walkoffs site for the details, since I missed the game.
You see, I was a junior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. And all students working on The Missourian, the J-School’s daily newspaper, had to spend six hours a week in the newsroom for what we called “general assignment hours.”Neff Hall, part of the School of Journalism
The idea is to have reporters standing by for breaking news – fires, crashes and things that happen that aren’t necessarily on your beat but need to be covered. You were at the mercy of the teaching assistant, a grad student who served as the assignment editor during the shift.
Well, this particular night the TA was polishing his brown-nosing skills. Professors serve as the editors for the paper, and they have offices with short, glass walls on the fringe of the newsroom. The top editor’s birthday was the next day, and the TA decided with would be nice to fill his office with balloons. Being the TA, he could actually delegate his brown-nosing to the lowly undergrads, and I was assigned the task of blowing up the balloons and throwing them over the glass wall.
I didn’t mind the job too much because he also assigned it to a pretty girl who I had never met. Her name was Julie. We started talking between balloons -- and I was hooked!
In a bold move, I casually asked her if she wanted to get some pizza after we were done with the GA shift. Shakespeare’s Pizza was across the street and was a de facto extension of the J-School. It was also the best pizza in Columbia, and you know New Yorkers take pizza seriously.
Shakespeare's, a J-School hangout, has awesome pizza.
Over pizza she mentioned she had a boyfriend. I looked at this as a mere speed bump. Patience and persistence would be the plan.
We made it kind of a weekly event through the fall, following the Tuesday GA shift with pizza at Shakespeare’s. By the time we returned from Christmas break, the other boyfriend was no more. As we know, 1986 was a good year for the Mets -- and me too! Yes!
Two years and a month later we were married, and remain happily so today. So I’m pretty grateful to that brown-nosing TA.
This year I realized it was the 20th anniversary of that big day, but I didn’t know what the actual date was, other than that it was the day before the big editor’s birthday and it had to have been sometime in the early fall. Reporters have a fair number of research tools at our disposal, and checks for this professor’s DOB came up dry.
The professor’s still at the school, so I ventured off an e-mail, explaining that I know it’s strange for a long-forgotten student to ask what day his birthday falls on, and told him why I needed to know. He was kind enough to reply, and now I know that Sept. 12 is a day to celebrate.
We couldn’t make it to Columbia for some Shakespeare’s, but the owner said he can ship some frozen pies to Michigan this week, making the day complete.
The occasion is also a reason to thank the Lord for each and every day he gives us. We never know what his plans are for us. He doesn’t follow our script. If a task as dull as blowing up balloons so someone else can surprise his professor can lead to meeting the love of my life, then I know that each and every day can lead to something wonderful.
Once again, I got carried away with the photos, going back and adding art -- in some cases, more art -- to some of the earliest posts. If you are interested:
Wiffle Balls and-the Meaning of Life
The Major-Leaguer, the Actor and the Truth
Glories of Opening Day
Pop Shortell, Dave Winfield and Richard Nixon