FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 1995 - exactly three years ago tomorrow - remember where you were, remember what you were doing?
I was hugging the mayor and high-fiving the governor.Bush-league behavior, I know, for a working journalist, but I was momentarily overwhelmed by the news that Salt Lake City had been awarded the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
When Juan Antonio Samaranch announced, "The city of Salt Lake City . . . ," I choked up, without warning.
At the time of the announcement, I was sitting in the media section of the Budapest Convention Center, surrounded by the world's press, including Channel 4, so I acted like a Hungarian insect had flown into my eye.
But as soon as I could make my way to the stage to interview the Utah delegation, I decided to use up my one allotted lifetime exemption from cheering in the press box.
It's not every day your hometown wins the Olympics.
As a group called the "Hungarian Cowboys" sang country-western at that night's victory party, the euphoria flowed like the nearby Danube.
I remember thinking, at the time, that seven years was forever.
But three years, and the Nagano Games, have already expired.
Time flies when you're next.
Unless you happen to be on I-15 behind a road-grader.
The local road situation is far and away the biggest indicator that the Olympics are coming. In a condition known in layman's terms as "OVERREACTION," the government decided to simultaneously tear up every street all at once so that, when the Olympics arrive, no one will compare Salt Lake City to Atlanta.
That's fine for the year 2002 and fine for the people who make orange road cones, but in the meantime it has the potential of turning everyone who owns a car into Michael Douglas in "Falling Down."
Other major indicators that the Olympics are coming are the assorted scandals and controversies that have popped up the past three years S.B. (Since Budapest).
This includes the resignation of SLOC chief Tom Welch because of domestic assault problems; spirited debate over "Budweiser, official beer?"; a gag order on SLOC employees after someone leaked "top secret" information; and a deteriorating relationship between SLOC and the media that is quickly approaching the pit bull-postman stage.
To be sure, edginess is a definite sign of an approaching Olympics.
Twenty-two years ago in Denver, edginess got so bad they turned back their bid. Ten years ago in Calgary, edginess resulted in a complete overhaul of the organizing committee. Six years ago in Albertville, edginess caused Jean-Claude Killy, the organizing committee president, to sulk for a year before coming back to work. And Jean-Claude Killy was to the French Olympics what Napoleon Bonaparte was to the French Revolution.
So far, only one thing has happened in the past three years that is NOT overcomeable. That being the death last summer of Alf Engen.
Alf was 88 and lived a great life, so his life remains a celebration, but it would have been appropriate if the man who discovered Alta, put Ecker Hill on the map and pioneered Utah winter sports could have been here to see the Olympics.
It would have been understandable if Alf, a man who could remember when "water purification" meant waiting until the snow melted, might have balked at Olympic development.
But Alf was always first in line to welcome the Games.
When the Olympics really do arrive and I'm sailing down I-15, waving and smiling at the Huber Bros. on the way to the luge, I'm going to salute Alf Engen.
In the meantime, I'm going to remember that day I hugged the mayor - and continue to complain about the roads.