Monday, September 29, 2014

I met the Pope once.

I met the Pope once. We arrived at his gig, an outdoor mass in a large grassed amphitheater in Auckland NZ at about the same time. He had his Popemobile, I was wearing stilts and leading a phalanx of curious children presumably attracted by my oddness and sense of purpose. I’d gone formal, black pants and tails. His crowd filled half a large grass bowl. His Pope mobile, a vehicle representing an almost satanic lack of faith in divine providence was slithering along one side, making it’s way backstage while I crested the brow of the hill the stage was facing, children strung out beside and behind. These were olden times 86 thereabouts. The social contract was benign. There may have been snipers trained on me but they didn’t make themselves apparent. My temporary underage disciples and I instinctively formed a tactical arrowhead formation. There were 15 of us with a couple of hundred yards to cover and the Popes gang, their backs turned as they craned at a distant stage for a glimpse of an elderly Polish demigod, numbered in the thousands. The under 14’s around me breathed long and deep and stole glances at the sky. It was a good day to die. We halted some distance from the back of the crowd as his Popeness popped and locked his way onstage. [The correlation between geriatric movement and rudimentary breakdancing at extreme slow speeds is INDISPUTABLE.] I don’t know how good his eyesight was but I’m guessing an 11ft man dressed in black surrounded by children standing alone and apart in the outfield about 150 yards away dead center might not have escaped his attention. Which was my purpose that day. I lived nearby and was young and well trained in the art of subjugating public places for comic affect and thought it would be fun to try and catch the Popes eye just as an exercise in social elasticity. There’s a distinguished history of Clowns fucking with Popes and I wanted in. I like to think we peered at each other in a contrived yet nevertheless profound search for meaning before he began warming up his crowd in Latin. I moved closer, right up to the back of the crowd, it would have appeared, on my stilts, that I was standing on their shoulders. They began handing me cameras to take Pope-pics for them. I had become one with the congregation and communed with them in one vast universal love…for Pope-pics. So now the tall dark clown at the back was engaged in a barrage of flash photography. I shot the Pope many times. After about five minutes of popearratzi freelancing I figured both the Pope and I had seen enough of each other, I stopped, turned my back and strode back the way I had come Across a large empty space, up a hill and away.

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