"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


My Pope Joke

The Pope celebrated a mass for nearly 50,000 people this morning in D.C. It reminds of a little Pope story I’d like to share with you…this comes to you by way of an old friend of mine…imagine it being told in a thick Chicago accent, such as Joe Pesci in “Raging Bull.”

Back when Pope John Paul II was elected, it created quite a stir amongst the Polish of the world. And no where was it more poignantly expressed than through the prideful masses of those expatriates here in Chicago. After all, the Windy City is home to more people of Polish birth than anywhere, save Warsaw itself. And when the Pope announced that Chicago would be on his agenda during his U.S. tour, one of those Polish in our great city took special notice.

Singer Bobby Vinton had fallen on a bit of hard times back then. His career was on a downturn, and he just wasn’t relevant to many people, anymore. When he heard about the Pope’s upcoming visit to Chicago, he saw a golden opportunity to use it to his advantage. After all, they were both Polish, and who was more popular with the Polish than the Pope at that time?

So Bobby called the Vatican and asked for an audience with His Holiness in Chicago. Actually, he left a message. Several messages. And, he never really got a call back. He did get a form-letter though. The Pope would be unable to see him.

But Bobby was a fighter, and didn’t give up that easily.

The day before the Pope’s parade downtown, Bobby headed down to a prominent State Street men’s store and was fitting for a suit. It was a real beaut, too: white, with wingtip shoes, and a gold watch chain. This would really get him some attention.

The day of the parade, he found a choice spot along the route, and waited. He stayed out of the way while the crews worked to set up the barricades along Dearborn Street, and as the crowds began to arrive and pack in, asses-to-elbows, he stayed patient.

Soon, however, a huge cheer arose from the masses, as the motorcade leading the Pope-mobile turned the corner. Tickertape streamed from the tops of office buildings and music blared. Bobby stepped forward as the Pope approached, a look of self-confidence on his face, and held out his hands as if to say, “Eeeeeeeh, here I am!”

And got absolutely nothing. The Pope didn’t notice him at all, and drove straight past, waving, oblivious. But, just as Bobby was beginning to realize what happened, then suddenly the brake lights did come on. The door on the Pope-mobile opened, and out stepped the Pontiff.

A thick silence of anticipation fell over the crowd as he slowly walked towards the curb and approached a filthy, disheveled, homeless man, about 20 yards down from where Bobby was standing, a look of incomprehension across his face.

The Pope leaned, placed a hand on the street-person’s shoulder, and gently whispered something into his ear. Then he turned, gave a wave to the crowd, to it’s huge, delight, and got back in the white car and continued the parade.

Bobby immediately ran over to the bum and demanded what the Pope said. But the bum was too drunk to say anything, so Vinton picked him up and led him to an alley. There, he undressed the bum and changed clothes with him, then placed a wad of $20s into his hand, and left him leaning against the curb.

Back out to the parade he ran, to find another spot by which John Paul would pass.

Again, the Pope-mobile approached, and Bobby maneuvered to make himself as conspicuous as possible. And this time, the Pope looked right at him, and ordered the car to stop.

The crowd again fell silent as the Pope stepped out of his vehicle and approached Bobby Vinton, standing on the curb wearing the homeless mans soiled and filthy clothes.

Anticipation welled up in Bobby as the hero of his people approached, walking straight towards him, an arm beginning to outstretch, that gentle expression of love on his visage. Soon, close enough to see John Paul’s blue eyes, the hand reached out and touched him on the shoulder, and the Pope leaned in to his ear.

“I thought I told you to get the FUCK…OUTTAHERE.”

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