Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Favorite Olympic Moment (so far)

     This will be a short entry, but it speaks to the invisible bond that connects the Olympic family.  I am an Olympic pin collector, but not a rabid one.  These are a few of the ones I've collected already in Vancouver.  Others work very hard at it, and there is a cult of Olympic pin collectors who go to every Olympics, Summer and Winter, and display their wares on folding tables, where they will trade their pins for yours.  When I pass them on the sidewalks--and there are a number of them who have assembled near the Main Press center--I usually slow to see if there's anything interesting on display, because Sports Illustrated pins are generally good barter. Yesterday, as I was walking past, moving on, one of the pin collectors called after me: " Each thief passing by."
      I took a couple more steps, trying to process what I had just heard, slowed, stopped, then spun around wide-eyed.  The pin collector, a man about my age, was looking at me with a slightly expectant smile.  I had no idea if I'd ever seen him before, but he clearly knew me, because "Each Thief Passing By" is the title of my first (and to date only) novel, published in 1981.  It sold 4500 copies.  It's been out of print for over 25 years.  (Though you can buy used copies from dealers.)
       I approached the man.  "Who are you?  How do you know that book?" I asked, sticking out my hand.
      He introduced himself.  "Mike Rose," he said.  "1980, Lake Placid, you, me, Dave Silk and Dave Silk's sister sat at a table in the Holiday Inn and watched the replay of the U.S. beating the Russians."
        I remembered that night as if it were yesterday, though I have never written about it.  The entire team was there.   The Miracle on Ice team of 1980 had beaten the Russians that afternoon, and ABC wasn't televising the game until that night on tape delay.  So hours after the biggest hockey upset of all time, the team and a handful of friends gathered in the lounge of the Holiday Inn and watched it all unfold again.  I remember the players giving each other grief about missed checks, short shifts, flubbed passes, and bad hair.  I don't think anyone complimented anyone else the entire time.  It was that sort of team.  They were (and still are) a fun group.  Totally, delightfully spontaneous.  As Eruzione used to say, "We may be young, but we're immature."
       "It changed my life," Mike Rose continued.  "I've been coming to Olympics ever since."
       "It changed a lot of people's lives," I said.   "What have you got to trade?"
       "Take anything you want."   I looked his collection over, and took an USA Olympic Hockey pin from his sweater in exchange for an SI pin.
        "I don't think I've ever heard anyone say 'Each Thief Passing By' to me on the street before," I said.  "I almost fell over."
        "I saw you and thought, 'I know that guy,'" Mike said.  "I figured if it was you that would get you to stop."  Then he surprised me again.  "Listen, I've got copies of Eleven Seconds and My Sergei with me," he said.  "I always figured I might run into you at one of these.  If I get them to the press center, will you sign them for me?"
        "It would be my pleasure." 
        "Great.  It was good seeing you again.  it's been a long time."
         "Mike, right?  Mike Rose.  Stay dry, Mike."
          "You, too."
         My favorite Olympic moment so far.


  1. Classy way for Mike to get your attention. Great story. Perk

  2. That's awesome....carting around your books in case he bumps into you. Think a second novel is your only response. Dan G.

  3. Great story!! Look forward to updates from you when the men's hokey starts...