Rumors of my demise were exaggerated, but not by that much.
A little more than 24 hours following my last blog post–39 days ago for those of you calendar challenged–something happened in my life that shook me to the core. It was so traumatic that I went off the very deep end. And by very deep, it got quite scary not only for me, but for my parents as well.
I can’t say life is perfect again, but at least it’s a far cry from where it was on the evening of August 5 and the two weeks after that. I was a rudderless ship pretty much for that period, and I honestly didn’t know what direction my life would take.
Crista and I got into a discussion about the September 11 terrorist attacks, since yesterday was the 14th anniversary of that horrific day. Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the attacks and the pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, the plane which crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center to begin the carnage, will always represent pure evil to me. And I find him to be more evil than Charles Manson, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and many others could ever hope to be.
I’ll never forget the day before the attacks. It was a Monday. I got my car washed, and later that afternoon, I met Jimmy Ott at Pocorello’s Deli in southeast Baton Rouge to my usual Monday turn on Jimmy’s daily radio show, which at the time aired on WSCR-AM. We discussed the Saints’ season opening victory at Buffalo, LSU’s upcoming game with Auburn,and the baseball pennant races. I did not eat at Pocorello’s, which pained me greatly, because Pokie and Vita made the best Italian food I’ve eaten other than that cooked by my mother.
In fact, I didn’t eat all day Monday until the evening, because my Uncle Jerry took me to eat at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Baton Rouge. He had business for Allstate in Baton Rouge, and he called the Saturday before and suggested me meet for dinner. It was absolutely fantastic. I went back to my apartment to watch the Giants-Broncos Monday night game, then went to bed a little after 11.
That Tuesday didn’t figure to be much. I had nothing to cover for The Advocate, although I would be going to the office Wednesday to help Robin Fambrough compile the statewide high school football statistical leaders, and I had events to cover the three days after that, volleyball Thursday and football Friday and Saturday. The Saturday game was Baton Rouge Catholic at Jesuit in New Orleans, meaning I would miss the LSU-Auburn game.
After emerging from the shower a little before 9 that morning, I noticed CBS had broken into regular programming to report a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I left for a few minutes to get a late breakfast at a nearby Burger King, then came back and found out another plane hit the South Tower, which turned out to be United 175. .
Then the other flights went down: American 77 at the Pentagon and United 93 in a field in Shanksville, Pa., about an hour east-southeast of Pittsburgh.
For the next three days, you could watch coverage of the terrorist attacks, or coverage of the terrorist attacks. It was who you liked best–Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, or the teams at CNN and Fox News. Even ESPN simulcast ABC’s coverage, zapping SportsCenter and every other scheduled program.
MLB shut down until the following Monday. The NFL postponed week two. The LSU-Auburn game and other Southeastern Conference games were at first scheduled to go on, but finally, the suits in Birmingham bowed to intense pressure and called off the games, too.
Lucky for me, high school games went on, so I had a diversion. First was a St. Joseph’s Academy volleyball match vs. perennial power Assumption from Napoleonville, about 70 miles south of Baton Rouge. The Redstickers won easily, and were well on their way to their first of four consecutive state championships in the Bayou State’s highest classification.
The next evening, I traveled to Lutcher, a rabid football community halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Unfortunately for the home team, their Bulldogs were no match for East Ascension, which came down from nearby Gonzales and posted its third consecutive shutout to open the season.
After the game in Lutcher, I went home to New Orleans. That Saturday, there was nothing to watch, thanks to the postponements. That night, my dad accompanied me to Tad Gormley Stadium, where Jesuit won a tough 9-7 decision with a field goal in the game’s final minute.