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In My Life

"It's the end of youth." A dear friend of mine recently used these words to describe an event in her life. It got me to thinking. What were the defining moments that got me to declare "It's the end of youth." In My Life there were two such events.

1. December 8, 1980. Late in the evening, I received a telephone call from my roommate. She was working for ABC News at the time. John Lennon was shot! Moments later, Howard Cosell would announce to the world that John Lennon was dead.

I was not quite 7 when President Kennedy was shot, and only 11 when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were shot. I was too young to realize the full magnitude of these tragic events. But that night I was approaching my 24th birthday. I was in my 3rd year of night Law School, and John Lennon, more so than anyone else was the face of a generation.

He had gone from youthful anger to incredible idealism. His idealism may not have been realistic, but I never wanted it to end.

He was a fixture in the City of New York. Coming to represent what was good and bad about the City. He could walk through Central Park with his child in a stroller, pretty much unmolested. But that feeling of Freedom and the realization that maybe it wasn’t true ended that Monday night.

Shortly before John’s death we realized that the failed idealism of Jimmy Carter would soon end. He was the wrong person for the job. So now our youth would end with eight years of Ronald Reagan. December 8, 1980 was the beginning of the end of my youth.

2. September 21, 1981. I was in my last year of Law School, at the end of a 70 mile round trip to and from Suffolk County. I had just dropped off a woman with whom I was having a surreptitious relationship. The nature of the relationship had brought on one of numerous fights.

It was a rainy night about 11:30. The Grand Central Parkway was slippery. After coming around a turn, I noticed cars stopped in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and skidded into the car in front of me. I was the sixth car in this accident. I was driving a 1977 Datsun 280Z.

Luckily the front hood of the car accordioned. I was barely hurt. I got out of the car to see if the man from the car in front of me was alright. He was fine. I went back to my car to straighten it out. I realized that I had locked the keys in the car. I also kept a spare key in my wallet.

As I was getting out the key a seventh car came around the bend too fast. The car hit my car. My car hit me and threw me into the center lane of the parkway. A hit and run driver ran over both of my legs. I never broke a bone!

I’ve always considered my self an agnostic. That night as I crawled back to my car only I and perhaps one other mysterious being know who I was calling for. As Gene Kelly said to Spencer Tracy at the end of "Inherit the Wind," "They’re growing a strange crop of Agnostics this year."

The first event Jaded me. My idealism was gone. The second event jolted me. Any feelings of immortality were gone.  I further realized that we are sometimes lucky and should feel blessed to survive those moments that define us.





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