Ashton would be proud

January 12, 2013

It has been documented several times in this very space how much I love my job.

But even the greatest love can be put to the test.

For example, I’m pretty sure Samson wasn’t quite as smitten with Delilah after he woke up from his nap looking more like Telly Savalis than Peter Frampton (or, for the younger readers, more like Pit Bull instead of Justin Bieber).

Monday, as one might expect, I was a little nervous. Those who know me best know what a longtime fan I am of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Mauch household was set to host a game gathering that night. My wife Junell, bless her heart, spent much time making her famous (or they should be at least) buffalo wings that are always devoured almost as quickly as the Notre Dame offense later that evening.

As we were preparing for any Monday morning at the office, my editor, Roger Enlow, asked me where I was going to watch the game.

“Staying home. You should drop by,” I said.

“Funny you should say that,” Roger replied, removing my briefcase from its ritualistic place on the extra chair in my office.

Any time Roger moves the briefcase I prepare myself for either A) something funny, B) movie talk, or C) some special work idea that he thinks only I can do (I think he overestimates me sometimes).

He didn’t have a humorous smile on his face, so I dismissed a joke. He hadn’t mentioned any new movie and there was no late-night Hitchcock marathon recently.

That left work. Roger usually has good ideas, some that have even helped me in the annual awards categories over the years.

“Rick, there is a family in Pecan. Their grandson plays for the Houston Texans,” he began.

Sounded intriguing.

“They called Jerry (Tidwell, our publisher) this morning. He couldn’t make it home for Christmas and is there today,” Roger continued. “Jerry told them you could come out and talk to him and do a story.”

“Today?” I said, astonished.

“Yes, afraid so,” said Roger. “I have to get their phone number from Jerry, but we can set it all up later today, okay?”

Like the classic cartoon with a devil on one shoulder and angel on the other, the devil was telling me to say “No,” while the angel was telling me that it IS my job, and that is, after all, why DVRs were invented.

“Okay, I’ll do it,” I said, with about as much enthusiasm as a dog whose just figured out what the word neuter means.

MAYBE IT’S NOT REAL

A couple hours go by and I hear no more. Maybe Jerry lost the phone number, I thought (hoped). Maybe the player didn’t want to be bothered (after all he was probably going to watch the game).

I even thought, “Hey, maybe I can watch the game with him. The wife and company will understand.”

Finally, Roger taps on my office window.

“Jerry’s got that number,” he said, with a I-feel-for-ya-Rick-but-what-can-I-do look on his face (YOU could do the story crossed my mind).

“Rick, here’s what I want,” Jerry began. “I think this has the makings of a great story. We’re going to get Mary to get some really great photos, and I need you to come back to the office tonight and have about a half a page written and ready for Roger in the morning.”

I rubbed my chin, rubbed the back of my neck, all the things a person does when nerves kick in.

“Okay, I can do it,” I said, more sheepish than an assistant coach around Valley Ranch.

Then came the smile from both, with Jerry saying there was no such player, no such grandparents. One of the greatest pranks I’ve ever fallen victim to was pulled off smoother than a Brent Musburger line about A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend.

Who knew Roger had such acting chops? For about three hours he had me fooled, playing his part as well as Cary Grant in “North by Northwest.”

Renewed excitement hit me as I was going to be able to park myself in front of my own TV, eat my wife’s wonderful wings, and watch the Tide treat the Irish like Aledo might treat North Side.

As you know, all ended well. Alabama won another national title, and I did NOT have to work that evening.

I did, however, spend much of the rest of the day looking around the office for Ashton Kutcher, because I had been punk’d.

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Category: Sports Archived