The Year That Was (Thank Goodness It's Over)

January 01, 1995|By DAVE BARRY

It wasn't such a bad year. Really. Some good things did happen. For example, a whole bunch of Historic Mideast Peace Accords got signed. I don't have the exact numbers, but it seemed as though every time you turned on the TV news, you saw a group of formerly hostile Mideast leaders historically signing some accord and hugging each other as though they'd just won the playoffs. Granted, the next day there were always fatal riots, but still.

Another good thing about 1994 was that the Earth was not struck by a giant comet chunk, which is fortunate because, the way things were going, it almost certainly would have landed on the White House.

Also, I'm pretty sure there were several foreign countries (Belgium comes to mind) to which the United States did not send troops in 1994. This is due in large part to the peace-making efforts of Jimmy "I Am Not Going Away Until I Get a Nobel Peace Prize" Carter, who spent the year jetting all over the globe with a briefcase containing the only known copy of the Clinton administration's foreign policy.

It was also a good year because the Dietary Police decided that there is a type of restaurant cuisine -- broiled fish, no tartar sauce, no butter, no salt, no dessert, no wine, no coffee, no sitting in the same ZIP code as a cigarette smoker -- that we could enjoy without, in most cases, suffering instantaneous cardiac arrest.

And these are just a few of the good things that happened in 1994. The only reason why I'm not listing all the other ones is that I can't think of any. Everything else that comes to mind was bad, starting with . . .


. . . when the world was shocked by a story involving, of all activities, women's figure-skating, which heretofore had been considered a genteel sport wherein petite women wearing enough makeup to cover a ranch home sporadically fell on their butts in front of judges from places with names like Ubzrzezkzdistan.

But all that changed on that fateful Jan. 6 in Detroit when Nancy Kerrigan, a leading contender for an Olympic gold medal, was struck on the knee by a member of a criminal conspiracy that probably would have succeeded brilliantly except for the fact that everyone involved had the IQ of a dog biscuit. Suspicion quickly focused on amateur video-camera operator Jeff Gillooly and his intermittent wife, skater Tonya Harding.

Of course we now know that Tonya Harding was actually a victim. It was a very big year for victims, notably the alleged Menendez brothers, Erik and Lyle, who both received mistrials in January. And let us not forget another famous victim, Lorena Bobbitt, who was found not guilty in January of cutting off her husband's penis, leaving historians to speculate on who actually did it. I am guessing Lee Harvey Oswald.

In the 1994 Super Bowl, the plucky never-say-die Buffalo Bills once again represented the American Football Conference, and once again they performed superbly until they made the tactical error of leaving their hotel, at which point they were once again tromped by the Dallas Cowboys 437-6. But we should not blame the Bills: They were victims. And speaking of sports, in . . .


. . . the attention of the world turned to the Winter Olympics in Norway, where the gold medal in the women's figure-skating event -- which had been endlessly hyped as a contest between Kerrigan and Harding -- was won, in a stunning upset, by unheralded newcomer Michael Jordan.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency was demonstrating, once again, why it is known far and wide as "the Central Intelligence Agency." This was the situation: (a) The CIA knew that somebody was leaking sensitive intelligence information to the Russians; (b) an unstable alcoholic CIA employee named Aldrich Ames, who had access to sensitive intelligence information, was in regular contact with Russian intelligence officials; (c) Ames, who made less than $70,000 a year, was suddenly spending large amounts of cash, including $500,000 for a house. Top CIA brains pondered these mysterious clues for several years, until finally, in February, the answer hit them: Ames was an Amway distributor.

No, seriously, they figured out that Ames was spying for the Russians. Ames was arrested and the brains at the CIA were once again free to dig up intelligence information vital to our national security.

Speaking of arresting people, February was the month when the U.S. Congress established that 1994 would go down in history as the Year of Elected Officials Talking Tough About Crime Even If They Personally Happen to Be Under Indictment. Members of Congress risked physical injury in their frenzied rush to introduce ever-tougher anti-crime measures, including "Three Strikes and You're Out," "Two Strikes and We Poke Out Your Eyeball," "One Strike and We Put You in a Small Cell With a Large Veteran Offender Known Only As 'The Ram,' " etc.

And speaking of legislation, in . . .


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