Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner?

I used to coach boys basketball and was also dating the cheerleading coach.  This was convenient as we would often go out to dinner after games or practices concluded.  There was a place not far from the school that the best chicken wings I'd ever had, and on Tuesdays they included them on their 'all you can eat' buffet.  I became a little single tracked in my life as I pretty much just thought about Tuesday nights and all you can eat chicken.

After a road game one particular Tuesday night, I was all set to take the little lady out for the $6.95 buffet ("baby, you can have whatever you want up there") but we obviously couldn't leave till all the kids got picked up by their parents.  My boys were all gone, but we were still stuck with one cheerleader.  She didn't know where her mom was.  We called every number we had.  No luck.  I felt badly for this girl, but frankly I was feeling worse for myself as I was pretty sure the buffet ended at 9:00 and time was starting to become a factor.

After well over an hour of sitting around waiting and repeatedly re-dialing the same phone numbers we somehow reached mom.  She was at a bowling alley the next state over.  She explained that it was league night and she wasn't coming.  I don't know if this mom won her bowling match, but I do know she did not win "Mother Of The Year."

A guidance counselor stopped back by the building by freak coincidence and elected to drive the student home.  My gal pal and I raced to the restaurant but this story, unfortunately, does not have a happy ending.  The buffet was closed.  We went somewhere else, but regular food didn't taste good anymore.  I wanted to fall to my knees and curse the sky while lightning flashed like in the movies, but I had dress pants on.

There are lessons learned in everything though.  For all my remaining years of coaching, after the team was picked, I started each year with the players and their parents and I told them the story of the chicken buffet dinner that wasn't.  I calmly explained that if I ever missed my chicken wing dinner (or any other dinner for that matter) because the player was not picked up punctually that they would not play in games.  People pay attention when their children's court time is in question.  I never had a parent more than 10 minutes late for the rest of my coaching days.

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