I was in a place I shouldn’t have been and doing something I should not have been doing…
The explosion of social media and almost constant barrage of picture snapping and video recording by the younger generation has caused many to be thankful smart phones didn’t exist ‘back in the day’. However, recent news events around a certain judge’s Supreme Court confirmation have made many of us in the over-40, err, I mean, over-50 crowd realize, perhaps those closet skeletons we thought were safe may not really be so.
Although I have no plans to run for any type of office, and I certainly won’t be on any short list for justice positions, I felt it best I go ahead and confess. Because, well…there is a tape…or at least there was. And there was maybe an assault.
After 50 years on this planet, I’ve accumulated a regret or three. Most of these I’m able to shrug off and put in cold storage. There’s one particular decision that I just can’t quite shake off, though. In early March 1986, I should have been in Columbia, SC. Instead, I was in Gatlinburg, TN.
Let me back up a year. On March 15, 1985, it was a packed house of 3000+ at the Irmo High School gym for the AAA South Carolina State Basketball Championship. It was defending state champs Riverside Warriors up against the 6′ 5″ Praylow twins and future Villanova star Rodney Taylor of the A.C. Flora Falcons. Despite being in the finals for the second year in a row, the Warriors were the underdogs. Yours truly at 5′ 11 and 3/4″ was backup point guard for Riverside.
In a highly unusual move, Coach Louie Golden actually put me in the game for a minute to give starting point guard Derek Polson a short break. During that time, I managed a steal, and with the 6′ 6″ 230 pound hulk Rodney Taylor of A.C. Flora breathing down my neck, somehow beat him to the basket for a two-point layup. In a low scoring, defensive struggle, we ended up stunning the Falcons by one point on a last second basket for the upset victory. I’ve joked for years that my two small points made the difference.
The following Monday, I joined my other team on the baseball practice field, having already missed six games due to the basketball playoffs. I soon decided that I’d go out on top in basketball, and not play my senior year. Despite being the likely stating point guard on a team that might make it to state championship for a third year in a row, I felt missing that many baseball games again my senior year would hurt my goal of playing college baseball.
That’s why in March 1986, when Coach Golden and crew found themselves in the AAA State Championship for the third year in a row, I found myself at a church retreat in Gatlinburg instead of on the court.
A Little Ditty
Being in Gatlinburg led me to do a second thing I regret about that weekend – doing that thing I should not have been doing. I committed what might be considered an assault against a girl who was a friend of some dude named Jessie and two other individuals named Jack and Diane. My friend and baseball teammate Todd and I decided we’d plunk down cold hard cash at the tourist trap recording studio, and we recorded two songs – “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield and “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar Mellencamp.
This was long before the days of autotune, and the recording left nothing to the imagination, while it broadcast over the loudspeakers on the sidewalk . We were awful. At least I was. Apparently, being part of the church youth choir for years didn’t help in the recording studio. I couldn’t use my choir strategy of sitting between and blending in with the Chrises – O’Rear and Stokes.
I do not know what happened to that tape. I don’t have it, and I lost touch with Todd over the years. I hope he threw it out long ago. I suppose if I really wanted to put my hands on it, I could run for public office. I’m confident it would then magically appear.
PS. The 1986 Warriors faced A.C. Flora and Rodney Taylor again for the championship. This time Rodney took no prisoners. The 1986 South Carolina AAA Basketball Player of the Year scored about 30 points, and the Falcons kept the Warriors from winning their third straight championship. Sadly, Rodney passed away in 2015:
PPS. I guess if the basketball team made it back to the finals, then my skills weren’t missed too much. I certainly wouldn’t have helped much against Rodney that night. I never did play college baseball, but our 1986 baseball team did win the state championship. Makes the regret of skipping basketball a little easier to live with.