Come, gather round and listen to the holiday tale of the east german rose that grew during a coldwar and would one day stop traffic in a small Michigan town. Long before Spiranac, Sharpova or Alex Morgan, the undisputed reigning world champion of smokeshows when discussing female athletes was Katarina Witt. Even now at 57 she could probably crack the top ten. The news that the two time olympic gold medalist would grace the cover of the 1998 Gala Christmas Issue of Playboy indirectly led to the minor injuries of a drunken cyclist, a brief but frutitless police investigation and one of the weirdest days I ever had during high school. This ridiculous story was witnessed by my good friend Kres and documented by the local newspaper clipping below, which thankfully my mom saved.
It was 37 degrees that day with flurries of snow, I know because I remember freezing my ass off while trying to process what had just happened and the historical weather records confirmed the stupidity of this scenarios setting. The thirty-minute lunch period we were allotted that particular Friday was used to drive to Scooby’s liquor store just 3 miles away to peruse Katarina and her double…gold medals, then jet back to school. After successfully being 17-year-old idiots and finally pissing off the clerk we left, morale boosted as we headed back for the second half of A.P. Lit. Less than a quarter mile from the store is the only bridge in Petoskey with an immediate right turn as it ends that is now curbed off and non-existent, most likely due to incidents like the one that happened on that fateful November day. As I hung that roger onto Elizabeth Street a sudden impact hit my SUV’s right flank like bird-strike. The human being who suddenly flew over my hood and onto the pavement after elicited reactions of open-mouthed shock, then laughter as we saw this inebriated moron who was on a bicycle in a snowstorm in November, pop right back up after hitting my car. As we questioned if he needed help, a ride to the ER, Cops or anything else the man kept flatly refusing. His knee was cut-up but nothing serious considering the distance he had flown and his landing spot. Finally, my friend who was the passenger and totally devoid of any responsibility asked the most obvious question as we all shivered. “What are you doing out here right now on that thing?” His answer still echoes in my memory, the sound of it slurring and smell of cheap gin still permeate my mind. He exclaimed “I was kicking some ass on my bike!” prompting my friend to have to physically turn away from the conversation to conceal his laughter.
Our return to school entailed me phoning my parents to tell them to expect yet another call from the sheriff about one of their sons, several hours of anxiety believing I was going to jail at any moment and most of the school including teachers hearing about it and openly laughing at me in the hall. In the end the cops didn’t lift a finger for wasted Lance Armstrong who reported in person the story of how he had hit a car with his Schwinn in a snowstorm a mere two blocks from the police station. The local paper somehow found out about it, and it was page 2 news to just to give you an idea of how exciting my hometown was. Front page that day was about a turkey who learned to ski. My folks running into people in the community inquiring if I had mowed down a biker that day or not were the only repercussions I faced, happily. If you ask me now if seeing Katarina Witt naked that day was worth all that, my answer was and forever will be the same. Fuck yes, it was. And to all a good night.