Mind Games

Has it really been 30 years?

The day was supposed to be a memorable one. One I’d been looking forward to for many weeks. My birthday happened to fall on the same day as “bring your child to work” day. I woke up earlier than normal and left with my father, whom I’d shadow for the next six hours at his job as a high school teacher and coach.

I was still shy around girls, but I loved the attention I received as each class of students rotated through my father’s class. He let me help take roll. But I mostly sat back and observed how these high school students interacted with each other. They seemed to like my father, and he liked them. Maybe attending the same school with him in a couple years wouldn’t be so bad.

But the most memorable part of this experience was the somber mood that hung over the school that day. The year was 1980 on the 9th day of December: The day after John Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment.

I’d heard the news the night before when Howard Cosell made the announcement during a Monday Night Football broadcast. I knew Lennon was one of the Beatles. But Paul McCartney was the familiar name. Songs like “With a Little Luck” found their way into my 45 collection and were played over and over.

Years would pass before I’d comprehend how much Mark David Chapman took from us that December evening.

At the end of the day, I sat next to my father as he drove through the snow covered streets of Ogden. I asked him about Lennon as I tried to understand why he was killed. He explained to me he was a member of the most famous rock band and an accomplished song writer. That night we watched the news together. I saw the flowers pile up outside his apartment. Tears flowed down the faces of a generation hoping the 80’s wouldn’t be a repeat of the 70’s.

Lennon gets more interesting to me with each passing year. Here’s my favorite song of his that makes 30 years feel like yesterday.