Boers: Reckoning, Agony & Reflection On My 70th Birthday

There seems to be no end to human suffering in 2020.

(670 The Score) I don’t know if somebody up there likes me, but somebody on high sure likes to mess me around even as I celebrated my 70th birthday a few days ago.

Please allow me to explain the genesis of all this.

Back in 1999, when I was more than willing to party, my 49th birthday came with a tough look ahead that had millions of Americans sweating. Remember Y2K? I’d prefer not to, but the sense of dread was palpable as we reached the last three months of the year.

Without being too long-winded, you might recall that many predicted the so-called Millennium bug would strike our computers the minute the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31.

Plenty of smart people believed that the world would go into instant turmoil, that the chaos couldn’t be stopped. I vividly remember the Doomsday predictions were fast and furious and seemingly unending. Planes would fall out of the sky, power systems would fail, bank accounts would instantly be wiped out and nuclear missiles would inadvertently launch turning much of the world population into unrecognizable mush.

Oh, and Happy New Year.

The Doomsayers were wrong, of course. No one was nuked, no planes fell, not even one from Boeing. All the generators and kerosene lamps that were sold weren’t necessary. At least not for the predicted Apocalypse.

But promise of the new century quickly evaporated for me and millions of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, when we all suffered the cruelest of blows as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed in a sneak attack by the terrorists of al-Qaeda led by the very dead Osama bin Laden.

That was the only day in my 25 years at The Score that I didn’t do my job. I just felt empty. Watching the planes crash into the Towers left me feeling pretty damned angry too, but I was at a decided loss for words that I’d never before experienced. I was working mornings with Dan Bernstein in those days. I knew he was professional enough to handle things, and he did so beautifully. Ron Gleason also spent some time with Bernstein that day. It should also noted that I don’t remember a second of that long ride home. And I mean nothing.

The shock eventually wore off. The sadness I still feel in my gut never will.

What it also did was make my birthdays since fall into the category of who cares. I could never manage separate the two. Yes, I understand that time moves on, that all of us learn to cope with the hard times. No one ever said being a true adult was going to be easy, especially for me. Just say 9/11 to someone and see what emotions it brings out to this very day.

Put simply, I went along with whatever my family wanted in all those ensuing birthday years. Believe me, we didn’t do anything extravagant. That was fine by me.

But when I got sick in 2016, losing almost a full year to the recovery process, I started thinking how much I wanted to get to my 70th birthday. Arbitrary? You bet. But to me it was a milestone that I never expected to reach. But modern medicine is great.

I still have days here and there when some of the residual effects of my 25 hours of surgery can be felt, but it never sticks with me for more than a day or two.

These days, I have to laugh at myself for wanting something so arbitrary, so bad. Sometimes you just can’t change what’s in your heart.

That brings us to 2020, which I had been so looking forward to. I believe it can be argued convincingly this the worst year in the history of our country on so many levels.

I hear the wheels turning already, so let’s put this in context, starting with the coronavirus. It has already killed more than 194,000 Americans and seems certain to cross the 200,000 plateau in the weeks ahead. It has infected more than 6 million men, women and children across our country and millions more in the world, but you probably already knew that.

No, it’s not breaking news. Thank God.

There are millions of Americans out of work and money. Some businesses, particularly restaurants, have also disappeared in record numbers. And most of them will never return, including some that I know you liked or even loved.

You can debate that if you choose.

What isn’t debatable is that the social unrest we’re seeing on an almost daily basis is monumental in its scope with no end in sight.

I always thought that being one of the Flower Children of the 1960s was a piece of history the likes of which our country had never seen. Many of us didn’t like the Vietnam War, so we let it be known in a loud and persistent voice. I’m sure we would’ve been called cowards and losers by Mike Ditka. He got to me later, but not about that.

Martin Luther King, meanwhile, was letting everyone know what Civil Rights is supposed to look like, what all Americans should rightfully expect. Then he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, joining John F. Kennedy, who was gunned down in Dallas five years earlier. And let’s not forget Robert Kennedy, who was also killed in 1968.

But King’s legacy and work continues to this very moment, although his message of peace has been lost on a lot of this generation.

What we’ve seen across the country is rioting, looting and setting fires that have destroyed not only property in so many large and small cities but left us all with an uneasiness born of fear. If that was the goal, mission accomplished.

As if anything was needed to make it worse, we’ve had far too many instances of deranged white people yelling at Black people at parks, at beaches, at stores or anywhere else they choose to act like a bigoted fool. Nobody needs it.
Nobody wants it. And I don’t want to hear another lame excuse from anyone.

Then there are the mealy-mouthed politicians, who have only served to make things worse. But there’s nothing new about that. For the majority of my adult life, I’ve detested the politics on both sides of the aisle. I’ve always hated the politics in Illinois, which remains one of the most corrupt states in the country. And you wonder why I chose to remain in the toy land of sports.

And if it seems like I’m only scratching the surface here, I haven’t forgotten about the wildfires in California and several other western states that have been burning out of control for weeks now and have rightfully been termed the worst in our history. The videos we’re seeing on a daily basis look like something from a post-Apocalyptic movie. The Camp Fire alone has been called the deadliest wildfire in a century by the experts.

So no, I haven’t turned a blind eye to the ongoing catastrophe out West that has forever changed the lives of those left in its wake. Sadly, there seems to be no end in sight to the human suffering across our beautiful-but-conflicted and often-confused country.

Right now, I’m feeling completely exhausted by all of it, wondering if I have still have a useful place in this time of reckoning and so much agony. I guess I do. Maybe I’ll have it figured out by the time I’m 75.

Terry Boers was a Score original and longtime host who retired in 2017.