Sitting in front of my laptop last week, I wondered why I was so distracted by the losses of a singer: Whitney Houston, and a ball player: Gary Carter.
I tapped the hind end of my pen on the surface of my desk, and thought it through tap...tap...tap:
I don't watch much baseball anymore, what with two young children.
I don't set time aside to listen to music anymore. Not much, anyway.
So, why did I care?
Now I know.
The answer: 1985.
1985 is the year Arista Records released "Whitney Houston", the singer's debut album.
It is also the year the Montreal Expos released Gary Carter to the New York Mets.
I was 13 years old, and as with most new teenagers, I was almost as prone to getting lost within my own imagination as I was prone to hero worship.
I've lived in Montreal my whole life. Like many fans of our professional baseball team, Carter was one of my favorites. I loved the way he crouched behind home plate, his pinkie holding the edge of his catcher’s mitt in front of his nose, so when the center-field camera was pointed at home plate all you saw were Carter's eyes glaring back at his pitcher. He was the reason my first baseball glove was a catcher's mitt.
"Whitney Houston" was among the last vinyl LPs I ever bought. I was 13, hormones out of control, and here was album on the cover of which was a beautiful woman stolen, like a Tahitian princess, from a scene in The Bounty. The only image more captivating than the front of the album was the image of Whitney gracing a white swimsuit, statuesque in the sand, on the record's back.
Then, of course, there were those songs.
As an adult, I would not speak of sitting in my living room listening to Whitney Houston albums ad nauseum. But, in 1985, at 13 years of age, not only was it permitted, it was nearly obligatory.
13 years-old in 1985 is, in its soul and spirit, barely separable from 13 years-old in 2012: still a balance and battle between confidence and intimidation, hormones and blooming awareness, and boys feeling their way from running the bases at the baseball diamond to being transported elsewhere my music and romance.
One of my favorite bloggers, Roger Ebert, is fond of saying: it's not what a movie is about; it's how it is about it.
The losses of Whitney Houston and Gary Carter reminds me it was not what they accomplished in their lifetimes which remains with me, but rather how my life was when their footprints were large on this world.
Losing them reminds me I am no longer 13, dusty from sand in the park, sipping on cola, blaring music and waiting to be told where to go next.
I'm older now, and two immortals who garnered my hero-worship in 1985 are no longer with us.
I don't have that album anymore. At some point, when it became unfashionable, I gave it away.
And, where is that catcher’s mitt?
...tap, tap, tap...