My wife says I build things up in my mind to a place that can’t be lived up to. I’m finally starting to think she may be right.
Every Christmas I picture the hot chocolate on the mantle as my children hold hands by the tree. My wife and I welcome our families at the door with laughter and hugs as we sing carols as we remove their coats. Does it really end up looking like that?
More like kids fighting over empty boxes, drunk Uncle Pete starting a fight with other family members and of course the usual family stresses and arguments over stuff that really doesn’t matter.
Likewise with summer vacation. I picture my two well-behaved children in the backseat of our car, saying "We love you Dad, thanks for taking us to a really cool spot" as we drive off into the sunset. A worry-free trip without stress, without worry and never a problem.
The reality is the van will break down three times, our windshield is held on with duct tape, the kids ask "Are we there yet" every five minutes and my wife is mad at me because I got us lost again.
I admit it. Even though I know the reality of a situation is going to be different from what happens, I’m a dreamer. Actually a BIG dreamer. So big, I was a "Tyler daydreams too much" kinda student. And I still am.
My most-recent real-life reality check was in Minnedosa for the annual Sportsperson of the Year dinner. A week ago today, I was pacing around my kitchen, nervous and worries about how my MC duties would play out in front of 200 sports fans, and a legend that was going to be one of my personal bucket list thrills: Warren Moon of the Houston Oilers/Edmonton Eskimos/Kansas City Chiefs/Minnesota Vikings/Seattle Seahawks was going to be the guest speaker, along with Doug Brown from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Now growing up in Erickson, while my friends worshiped stars of the NHL, I was worshiping stars of the NFL. And along with Joe Montana, and Phil Simms, I had a poster on my wall of Houston’s Warren Moon.
What would it be like to meet him? What would I say? How would I behave?
After 21 years of radio I have met a lot of celebrities, but few had the personal impact of this guy, and I couldn’t wait to meet him, but I was so nervous I though I was gonna puke.
Here’s how it was going to go: I was going to show up early to the dinner, with my football in hand. Nobody would be at the hall yet, so him and I would have a chance to chat. We would talk about his career, what it was like in the "pocket" of an NFL defensive line, what it was like to play in front of 80,000 people and he would share stories nobody had ever heard publicly before.
He would then ask me if I played and I would say we only played "flag" football at our school since Rolling River outlawed it when my parents were in school. He would say "That’s too bad" and ask, "What position did you like to play". And I would say QB, just like you buddy.
He would say "Let’s go outside the hall and see what you got." He and I would play catch for the better part of 15 minutes and I would be catching balls from my idol in the valley sunshine and people coming into the hall would say "Wow that’s Warren Moon. Who’s he tossing the ball too?" Yup, Erickson’s QB that never was, the big TG.
Then we would laugh and say, we better go inside and have dinner. We would talk more football and he would invite me to his radio studios in Seattle where he now does Seahawks play-by-play. He would speak, we would share more laughs and stories, exchange cards, keep in touch and become new best friends. The end.
I don’t build things up in my mind at all.
REALITY: 1) Moon’s plane was late due to technical problems. 2) He missed supper and thus our game of "catch". 3) When he did eventually come, he only smiled and nodded at my jokes and I barely had the chance to say anything to him at our table, because of his late arrival. 4) After his speech, and a few conversations with some of the people at the dinner, I found myself chasing him around the hall without success. People at the dinner wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to chat with Warren. It was just not happening. 5) Finally he is set up in the foyer to sign autographs and I thought, well here I’m gonna get my five minutes with my idol. Just as I step up, someone from Minnedosa wants ME to sign something! ME??? Really?
So here I am at his table, signing something for a dinner attendee and I STILL can’t get to Warren Moon. Finally I had my Clark Griswold "Christmas Lights don’t work" moment, and declared "Okay, Warren is mine for the next two minutes. I need a football signed, some football cards and I want a picture with him."
This was my chance. Here’s how it played out:
TG: Man it is so cool to meet you. I am like your biggest fan.
WM: Thanks. I appreciate it.
TG: I used to play football in Erickson, but we didn’t have a team. Erickson is 20 miles north of here.
WM: You didn’t have a team? So what did you play?
TG: It was a flag football program, but I always was the qua….
WM: Does this town have a team?
CROWD: No, nearest team is Neepawa.
WM: (looking at my cards — points to a shot of him and a moon) Where did you get this?
TG: This is my high school football card collection from ’89.
WM: This is my favorite picture of me.
TG: Can you sign this stuff for me?
WM: Sure man. (signs stuff) Nice meeting you.
TG: You too, thanks for coming here and have a safe trip home.
WM: Thanks, man.
Tracy: Hi I’m Tracy, Tyler’s wife.
WM: Nice to meet you. (Points to Tracy) That’s what’s important right there.
Wow. And that was it. No catch. No stories. Just two handshakes, a picture and a couple of autographs. And his words of wisdom were "That’s what is important". Meaning family, your spouse, and the people close to you.
I got that from his speech too. Fame, money, NFL greatness, in the end you can’t take it with you and only super fans remember you.
I want to thank the crew in Minnedosa for giving me the chance to meet one of my sports idols, and so close to home!
What a thrill. I not only met an idol of mine, but got proof to show for it. And learned once again, to not "build things up in my mind".
FOOTNOTE: Bomber Doug Brown also writes for a paper once a week like me. If you see him, tell him I mentioned him in this column and that he promised to "Show up for work in our crop fields in Minnedosa".
He promised. After all, he’s retired now.
And please tell him I’m joking. He’s big. He will cause pain. I don’t like pain. Thank you.
Joke this Week
After long consideration, a brother and sister decided to put their father in a retirement home. After he was admitted and settled in they went to visit him. They stood in the day room and watched him for a while, as he sat on the couch watching television.
He started to lean to his left and as soon as he did, someone was there to straighten him up then, he started to lean to his right and, just as before, someone was there right away to straighten him up.
Feeling confident in their decision to have him put in the home they sat with their dad to ask him how he liked his new residence.
He said "The place is fine, the food is good, they have my television shows but, they won't let me fart!"
- Susanne Fayant
- Tara Stuart
- Terry Winters
- Trent Bartley
- Cyndi King
- Amanda Mason
- Morgan Sanders
- Ashleigh Birch
- Cam Farr
- Melissa Ratz Myers
- Fara Gradwell
- Danielle Lalonde Smith
- Debra Ethier
- Jorganne Mcsymach
- Kim Blanchard MacKenzie
- Katrina Mitchell
- Sarah Mellings
- Morgan Sanders
- Val Hume
- Morgan James
- April Nelson
- Kevin Clark
- Ashley Hanks
- Grady Routledge
- Becca Turner
- Rolene Maliteare
- William Alberts
- Randy Forbes
- Wendy Wutzke
- Michelle Keller
- LeAnne Langlois
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 19, 2012