At around 2 p.m. Eastern time today, the world became captivated by the introduction of the new pope. It’s not something that happens very often. Pope Benedict XVI was introduced in 2005. Before that, Pope John Paul II was introduced in 1978, and held the papacy until his death, when Benedict took over.
So for those of us who are under 30 years old, we really have only seen this one time before. Granted it was eight years ago, but I was 18 at the time. I was more worried about acquiring a fake I.D. for college than who the new pope was going to be.
To be perfectly honest — and I have no shame whatsoever by admitting this — everything that I knew about the introduction of a new pope is from what I learned in the 2004 movie Eurotrip.
If you’re anywhere in your 20s, then you’ve seen that movie. It’s one of those rare movies that compiles ridiculous over-the-top scenes one after the other, but it works, because it’s genuinely funny and has really likable characters. It’s one of my favorite movies of its genre.
Anyway, one of those over-the-top scenes involves the main character, Scotty — portrayed by actor Scott Mechlowicz (whose career unfortunately hasn’t evolved much since) — inside the Vatican during a tour. He’s with his friend Cooper, and the two somehow end up in the pope’s chambers. Obviously they accidentally start a fire, which of course sends white smoke through the chimney, and results in a large crowd forming in St. Peter’s Square.
Then, Scotty trips into the curtains, which drape around him like a robe, and he wanders out onto the balcony, and everybody thinks he’s the new pope.
In fact, you can watch the scene yourself.
The film is obviously a comedy, so it wasn’t trying to present a realistic portrayal of how a new pope is elected and introduced to the world. It’s parodying the situation, evidenced by how easy it was to draw thousands upon thousands of people towards Vatican Palace simply because of the smoke. The people then become ready to cheer and embrace the first person who steps onto the balcony, which humorously happens to be Scotty. The movie also shows newscasters who eat up the situation, and people glued to their televisions while watching the events at home.
Well, I watched the live events on the New York Times website today, and, well, what happened in Eurotrip is pretty much exactly what happened in real life.
First, white smoke emitted from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
After that, you had millions of people all over the world actually spending time talking about smoke. Coworkers approached coworkers, friends approached friends, and family approached family, asking — “Did you see it? It’s white smoke! The smoke is white!”
Never before in the history of the universe has smoke evoked so much conversation. Except that time Justin Bieber was caught smoking weed.
But the smoke blazed, and just like that, thousands of people flocked to St. Peter’s Square like they were zombies in the Walking Dead who sensed live flesh.
And then, they waited.
People were transfixed with that balcony, just waiting for somebody, anybody, to show up. Deadmau5 could have shown up in his Mickey Mouse hat and people would have went crazy.
The Vatican custodian could have accidentally wandered out there with his mop and people would have started crying with joy.
But instead, it wasn’t Deadmau5, it wasn’t the custodian — it wasn’t even Scotty from Eurotrip — it was the new pope.
Can you just imagine that feeling? Standing atop a balcony overlooking thousands of people, while every single one of them is staring at you with tears in their eyes?
I feel like everybody should get to experience a few things in their lives. They should get to participate in a champagne celebration like athletes do after they win a sports championship, they should get the chance to stand in a courtroom with a furious demeanor and yell “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” and finally, they should get to stand on the Vatican balcony, and watch people shower them with love.
I’ll take just one of those.
But seriously, it must have been a surreal moment for Pope Francis I, who goes by the real name Jorge Bergoglio. And it’s comforting to know that he had to wait 77 years of his life to experience it.
It just goes to show that some people peak late. If you haven’t accomplished anything by age 75 — there’s still time. Thanks Jorge.
And of course, there was the extravagant news coverage and attention that Eurotrip foresaw nine years ago. Although, as Twitter so often exposes, there were also those people who had absolutely no idea what a pope was. That link is both shocking, revealing and sad.
But unfortunately, even for those of us who do know — we’re talking about the pope, and not Kate Upton, so nobody will care tomorrow.
Actually, I kind of like the white smoke idea. I think that whenever I write a new blog post, I am going to light a fire and make sure smoke blasts from my chimney, so everybody knows I wrote a new blog. And I actually do a have a balcony on the side of my house, so maybe I’ll stand out there, and embrace all the people who were anxiously anticipating my next post.
All… one of you. Even if the only living thing waiting for me is a squirrel on a nearby tree.
That would be pretty nutty.