Friday, August 11, 2006

The Accidental Coach

Have you ever been mistaken for someone else by the public? Were you shameless enough to take advantage?

My given name was never an issue until some Hollywood twit who appropriated my name after I'd made established use of it started directing movies: some good (The Rock) and more not so good (Pearl Harbor). In 2004, I received a series of three phone messages from an Ohio-based factory working mom, seeking a part "in your (my..snort) next movie" for her and her 14 year old daughter, both of whom she assured me, "could act real good".

By the third message, I thought it best to let her -- or more specifically, me -- off the hook, and returned the message to her answering machine, letting her know I wasn't the one she thought she was calling.

It's probably a good thing she didn't accidentally call Parker/Stone's voice mail, but I digress.

Though I was told a few times that I looked like Dennis Weaver (in his role in the movie Duel, until my hair went gray and my moustache went phffft), no one ever thought I was him, thanks to the age difference. But on one occasion back in 1989, I was thought to be someone I wasn't, three different times in the same location.

Several someones in south New Jersey have autographs that are truly unique. And worthless.

Not being an autograph hound myself, I don't have a single autograph of note from anyone. I've been used to get autographs now and again, the most famous of which was from Bart Starr. But not being a collector of them, I didn't then, and don't now, have a great hankerin' to be an autograph magnet, either.

Even accidentally.

In the summer of '89, I -- along with two working colleagues -- was in south New Jersey, there to conduct a surveillance operation at an industrial facility on an on-going theft issue. At the same time, the NFL's pre-season training camps were underway. And it so happened -- which we didn't know at first -- that the hotel we were staying in for the next few days, was also the temporary home to players and staff of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles.

I first became aware of this when taking the elevator to the ground level to meet with my cohorts for breakfast. It stopped three floor short, and four sizeable specimens lumbered on, leaving me squeezed in the corner. At ground level, their exit (allowing me to breath air again) stirred a lot of buzz in the lobby, whereupon I learned for the first time who they were, and that the team was staying here during training camp.

As a Broncos fan, my initial reaction was a quietly uttered "eh".

But it sort of explained what would follow.

After returning from a meeting with plant officials, two of us boarded the elevator along with four young teens, who immediately began asking for our autographs.

I developed a *duck hit over the head* look, while my cohort -- quicker than me at the time -- said, "sure, kid...", and promptly signed some illegible scrawl in their little black book they handed him, telling them he was a special assistant to the special teams coach.


When I challenged him with a "what the New Jersey toxic waste dump are you thinking?", after we exited the elevator, he just laughed and said, "they'll never know the difference".

The next time I was accosted for an autograph -- the next morning, again as I entered the elevator -- I couldn't bring myself to play the game, much to the amusement of my two colleagues, both of whom had unhesitatingly complied with a couple requests made of them. I was having a bit of an ethical debate with them over why not just tell 'em you're not affiliated with the team, and their snide response of "let 'em think they're getting an autograph; makes 'em happy". Besides, as they liked to point out, assistant coaches come and go like the seasons and cheap dates. An analogy I could appreciate at the time, but I'm digressing again.

Finally, the morning after our assignment had wrapped up, we were to gather in the lobby for the ride to the airport. As was usual, I was the first to get situated and down to the lobby, awaiting my molasses-speed comrades. Sitting in a chair and working on my expense report (that's another ethical debate, but I digress even more), I was approached by two young lads who asked me for my autograph; it occurred to me then that my choice that morning of a green shirt might be easily misconstrued.

Yup. This morning, I tempted the fates and actually thought to play the game; but I just couldn't bring myself to. At least, not entirely:

"Look kids, you don't want my autograph. I'm nobody special. I just coach the waterboys."

I was right; with a disappointed "oh", they left, seeking bigger game.

Looking back at it, perhaps I should have enjoyed the moment as the "accidental coach" more fully. As my cohorts suggested, they would have never known.

But I would.


Blogger Ms. Vickie said...

Skunk-This is the only way I knew to make certain this did get to you.
Please go read my post for today. I just want to make certain you are
aware of what is going on with a very good friend.

11 August, 2006 13:06  
Blogger Miss Cellania said...

Can I have your autograph? Better yet, can I have an audition?

11 August, 2006 13:11  
Anonymous Gertrude Butterbean said...

I always knowed you was real good. And now I find out you coached them water boys?

Heck far! I do want yer autograph! Well, only if it's free.

Oh and just by the by, I wanna make sure ... what's an autograph? Is it a pitcher of a car? No wait, is it a pitcher of a race car? Oh boy, yeah!

You got one of them autographs with Dale Jr. on it?


23 September, 2006 10:28  

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