The World Cup has gripped the planet.
All over the world soccer fans are rushing to their TV sets to root, root, root for their national teams. It happens every four years. Tickets for this year's event in Germany were impossible to attain.
In 1990 I managed to get a double set of tickets for the World Cup (Copa del Mundo) in Milan, Italy. My son Gregg and I traveled to Milan and stayed for the completion of the games. I was able to get a room at the small but comfortable Hotel San Carlo about two blocks from the stazione (the railroad station). The stazione was left over from the Mussolini days. It was overbuilt in what was called fascist architecture. A concrete monster.
Gregg and I landed at the Milan Airport and took a bus into Milan. We each had two suitcases because my wife, Lorraine, kept pushing more clothing than we actually needed. We left the bus station and lumbered toward the hotel. I had my tickets and money in my inside pocket of a sport jacket.
As we approached the hotel we were surrounded by women and children who started jabbering at us. They kept getting closer and touching and jostling us. I remembered seeing stories of gypsies who preyed on tourists on 60 Minutes. I shouted at Gregg to be careful. Gregg did not realize we were being accosted.
In all the confusion a young gypsy boy pushed up against me and I felt a touch on my chest. I reached for my tickets and money and they were "gone."
Our wonderful tour would be over in the first hour of our arrival. Fortunately, I had felt the brush of the removal. I seized the lad by the neck and threw him to the ground "voilà," the tickets lay beside him. I scooped them up and yelled at Gregg to move fast and get away. By now Gregg was out of his fog and we got away.
The stay in Italy was wonderful.
We traveled up and down the peninsula watching soccer games. Sometimes we would attend one game in the afternoon and one in the evening. However, we were now very wary and careful.
Gregg and I enjoyed each other and the male bonding. It would all have ended in that first hour when I felt the brush of the hand of the young boy on my jacket pocket. We were lucky!
As I watch the games in 2006 I get teary-eyed thinking of our exciting European trip and all the adventures back in 1990.