I am now less than five days away from attending what will be, at least for me, my biggest social event to date in this millennium.
My dear friend Brittany Davidson and the love of her life, Zachery Morgan, marry Saturday in St. Joseph. Their reception follows at 7 p.m. at a downtown ballroom.
I cannot and will not miss it. Brittany has been one of the best things to happen to me, at the very least since moving to Kansas ten years ago. I have to argue she ranks above almost everyone else right now, only trailing my family, Peggy Cox and a select few others as to people who are of utmost importance into my life. As far as Buffalo Wild Wings goes, she’s 1A right now with Liz, but she’ll move to 1 alone when Liz leaves for Colorado Springs very soon. If Zach won her heart for life, he is a hell of a man. I’m honored they would want me to share in their big day.
That’s about all I could think about during my long and arduous travels through Nebraska and back into Kansas last Friday. I enjoyed the pictures at the former Rosenblatt Stadium, T.D. Ameritrade, the Cornhuskers’ Memorial Stadium and the Nebraska capitol, but the countdown to the big day for Brittany and Zach is really gnawing at me. In a very good way.
Brittany has told me time and again she wants me there. She does have some concern that I will lose my cool and melt down as I have in the past, but those fears aren’t as bad as they might have been before I started therapy with Crista.
I’m sure a lot of my friends at Buffalo Wild Wings, especially Alex, Tori, Raymie and the recently departed Lisa, will also be sad if I din’t make it. Don’t want to let them down.
Crista has really helped me put my life together. I still have my flaws and my concerns, but who doesn’t?
I have only been to two weddings in my life. The first was in July 1997 at a small chapel on the LSU campus between Adam Young, a former colleague of mine in the LSU sports information office, and former LSU volleyball player Luciana Santana, who came to LSU from Sao Paulo and ended up staying, much to the benefit of everyone at LSU. They now make their home in Bossier City in northwest Louisiana. I was not going to go at first, but Michael Bonnette, who was a groosman, convinced me to go. He and Robin (who was six months pregnant with their first son, Peyton) was there, as was Lee Feinswog and Brenda LeBlanc, who had been married less than a year at that time.
The second wedding was the Saturday before Thanksgiving 1999, when Bill Franques married Yvette Lemoine in Bunkie, her hometown. My father has nothing but bad memories of Bunkie; it was in the Avoyelles Parish town where a large rock casued a huge crack in the windshield of the family’s Oldsmobile station wagon during our June 1986 trip to Russell. Fortunately for my dad, (a) we sold the station wagon one month later to purchase my mother’s new Oldsmobile Delta 88; and (b) he only had to drive through Bunkie one more time, since Interstate 49 was completed to bypass Bunkie by 1990.
Bill and Yvette met at Michael’s July 1995 wedding in Opelousas. Yvette and Robin Arnaud were best friends at Bunkie High, and they took turns standing in each other’s wedding, although Michael did not attend Bill’s because he was on LSU business with the women’s basketball team in California. Bill and Yvette dated for four years before getting married, and some of us associated with LSU’s baseball team, led by Bill’s close friend, Dan Canevari, and equipment manager Mike “Bones’ Boniol, teased him mercilessly about Yvette. I joined in sometimes with trainer Shawn Eddy and assistant coach Bill Dailey.
Yvette was not a frequent topic of conversation at the Ivar’s sessions with Bill and Jim Schwanke. We had other things to worry about.
I was not in any mood to drive from Baton Rouge to Bunkie that day. I had been sick most of the week week with diarrhea and vomiting; it sometimes came out simultaneously at both ends. I won’t go into any more detail. The night before the wedding, I covered a high school football game between Eunice and Capitol at Baton Rouge’s Memorial Stadium (Capitol 9, Eunice 0) and ended up going out to eat with some peple thereafter, not returning to my apartment in southeast Baton Rouge until after 1 a.m.
The next morning, I was groggy and still not 100 percent, but I got dressed and made the drive northwest. I got to the church in Bunkie at 11:30 for the 1 p.m. ceremony. Bill and I actually talked for a few minutes before the church opened.
The reception was in Cottonport, another small town in Avoyelles Parish. I lasted 20 minutes. I decided to get back to Baton Rouge before dark.
No such worries this time. I’m staying in St. Joseph. I’ll be well-rested. And I don’t want to leave my friends too early.
I got back to Russell just before 7 pm.. Friday–in time to watch a Shark Tank rerun. I have not left 1224 North Brooks since.
Brittany, Lisa, Liz and a lot of other people, whether they be from Buffalo Wild Wings, western Kansas or Louisiana, have told me tmie and time and time again to be careful about what I post, because someone will take me seriously and it will end up having negative consequences.
I should have learned that one fateful week in October 1997 when I was attending LSU.
Today marks the 17th anniversary of LSU’s 28-21 victory over then-No. 1 Florida, the 1996 national champion, in Tiger Stadium. It was the first time LSU had ever beaten Steve Spurrier, whether when he was the Gators’ quarterback or coach. Unruly students tore down the goalposts and did damage to the field.
I should have been watching the game from the press box. Instead, I was alone at my home in New Orleans, crying, not watching the game. Why?
I was working in the sports information office, a wonderful opportunity, and one I was maybe not ready for. I just did not have the social skills in that era to handle working anywhere, let alone the sports information office of a Southeastern Conference, but a lot of people, especially Herb Vincent, then LSU’s sports information director and now the associate commissioner for media relations at the SEC office.
How much did Herb believe in me? He hired me as a first semester student to work in the sports information office back in the fall of 1994, but he had to fire me at the end of the semester because I wasn’t getting the work done. Frankly, I wasn’t ready for it. I was 18 years old, but my social skills were way, way behind; far more so than they are today.
Even though I wasn’t working in the office during the spring semester in 1995, he pulled my butt out of a huge fire. I got into some serious trouble, and it looked like I would face suspension if not banishment from the university. However, Herb went to the LSU police and Dean of Students office and asked them not to do that. He told them I could be redeemed. His stepping up to the plate allowed me to at least save some dignity when I left LSU at the end of the spring 1995 semester and eventually return at the beginning of 1997.
Herb didn’t bring me back full time when I returned to school, but he let me work LSU baseball games. The Bayou Bengals won the 1997 national championship, and even though I wasn’t in Omaha, it was quite a ride.
I was very unhappy in the fall semester of 1997. My father was on an assignment in Brazil, and that added to my loneliness. I had terrible times working the home football games, and I felt my work in the sports information office was hurting my academic work, which was total bull; it was just a crutch to try and get out of work in sports information.
On the first Sunday of October, I hastily drafted a letter to Michael Bonnette, who was then Herb’s chief lieutenant for football publicity. I told Michael I was sick and tired of all the work invovled, and I was quitting.
At first, I thought it would blow over and I would be back Tuesday. I didn’t work on Mondays that semester because I was seeing a counselor for my problem, which I didn’t know was Aperger’s.
I didn’t think Michael would give the letter to Herb, but when I came back that Tuesday, he asked me what the heck I was doing there. He thought I had quit. Herb did, too, and he reassigned my duties to quite a few different people, none of whom were happy. I called my mother from the office crying hysterically, and Michael took the phone from me and talked to her. He then went to talk to Herb, and the decision was made: one-week suspension. I would miss the LSU-Florida football game.
It was torture that week. I stayed in Baton Rouge to go to my classes and cover a high school football game that Friday night, and then I drove back to New Orleans Saturday to stay alone.
The next day, I was driving on I-10 over the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles Parish when I heard a terryfying sound. FLAT TIRE. And the Spillway is the worst possible place to have one, since it is a 12-mile elevated stretch over a swamp with no exits, no services, no nothing. Fortunately, a state trooper came by to help me change my tire, and I drove it to a service station in Kenner, where my mother met me. She drove behind me back to Baton Rouge, and she spent that Monday, my 21st birthday, with me, except for when I went to class.
The Tuesday after the Florida game, I returned to the sports information office. Herb was still disappointed in me–as he should have been–but he welcomed me back. Everyone who had inherited my duties all breathed a sigh of relief.
I should have learned my lesson that day. Alas, I kept doing the same thing over and over. I see where the ladies of Buffalo Wild Wings are coming from when they tell me not to post stuff like that. It can get ugly…or worse, downright scary.
Today is a painful day for me. It is a reminder of the bridges i have burned and the people I care about deeply who have exited my life, never to return.
Wendy Wall celebrates her 44th birthday today. If I knew where on earth she was, I would like to send her flowers. If she would connect with me on Facebook, I would certainly wish her happy birthday and leave a heartfelt message, much as i did for Brittany Davidson yesterday. If I had her cell phone number, I would have texted her at 12:01 a.m.
However, Wendy has forgotten me. And that hurts.
I first met Wendy in March 1997 at an NCAA women’s basketball tournament game at LSU. She had been brought in by Michael Bonnette, LSU’s media relations contact for the women’s basketball team, to help on press row, like I was doing. Strangely enough that night, Rebecca Borne was also there. Her dad, Dan, did the public address for the two games played the previous Saturday, since regular announcer Bill Franques was with the LSU baseball team at Georgia, but Bill returned Monday, although Dan was at the game Monday just in case.
Wendy was already married by time I met her. She is six years older than me and was taking graduate courses at the LSU Manship School of Journalism when she came to wok in the sports information office that fall. I really came to like her. She was genuine and truly nice, something I had not found in many women I met up until that point.
She was the media relations contact for softball during the 1998 season. I was busy with baseball during that time, but I would find a way to help her whenever I could.
I’ll never forget one day when I was driving back to Alex Box Stadium after making a run to get drinks for Bill and I at a convenience store near campus. I saw Wendy leaving the journalism building as I was turning onto North Stadium Drive, which runs between Tiger Stadium and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. I saw her and honked my horn. She turned around and smiled, and of course I drove her back to the athletic administration building instead of making her walk. She laughed at the giant drinks I had for Bill and myself.
There was another time where I had no idea where Wendy was one Wednesday morning. I knew she worked late the previous night because of a softball doubleheader. I couldn’t reach her at home or on her cell, and I told Michael I was worried. When I came back to the sports information office after a visit to the baseball office, Wendy was sitting in Michael’s office. I was flabbergasted. She thought the whole thing was really sweet that I was concerned about her.
Wendy left LSU in October 1998 to take a job in Houston, and her husband Sid found a great job too. My dad, my brother and I joined them for dinner one night in 2000 when we were in Houston to watch the Astros play the Royals. My dad took a real liking to her, too.
Wendy gave birth to son Davis in 2002. I heard from her near Christmas 2003, but I haven’t since. I’ve cried a number of times over it. I would give anything to see her. She’s a notch below Stacie Dauterive Seube, Toni LaRocca, Brenda LeBlanc and now Elizabeth Psenski and the ladies of Buffalo Wild Wings, but Wendy still means an awful lot to me.
If I had 10 ladies on a list I would give anything to see again, Stacie would be first. Toni second. Brenda third. Wendy would probably rank fourth, probably ahead of Tiffany Peperone and even Renetta Rogers.
I know we’re all supposed to go on with our lives. It doesn’t mean we can’t lament the relationships which have passed us by.