If you asked me how many weddings of former athletes I've gone to in thirty-five years of coaching I would be hard-pressed to give you a number; although I'm certain it is more than a hundred and less than two hundred.
I've officiated at two weddings, even obtaining a laminated card from the Universal Life Church in California as proof of my auspicious ordained position. At times I wondered about the simplicity, that if it was so easy to become a deacon maybe I should go after a license to practice law. Anyway.
At this particular wedding over twenty years ago, someone gave every male on the team a condom to slip into the groom's hand as he and the bride greeted guests in the reception line, the juvenile idea something only a teammate could conceive of😁.
As is often the role of a coach, I came to the groom's rescue that day, locating a small trash bag from a waste basket so he could dump said items, his pockets bulging with French letters, hopeful parents or in-laws didn't notice. I took the prophylactics to the men's bathroom, leaving the bag in the trash, glad to be rid of them.
So that was the end of that...
Weeks later I was taking Ellen to Dr. Durkin's office in Roselle to get fitted for orthotics, a task I had done for many athletes, many times. It was a 45-minute drive and I'm prone to exceed speed limits, especially in the red BMW 2002 I had at the time, a cop pulling me over half a mile from the doctor's office. Damnit!
I grabbed my wallet for the ID and asked Ellen to pull the registration out of my glovebox. She pushed the button and the door dropped down, fifty condoms cascading to the floor at her feet. It looked like I hit the jackpot in Las Vegas!
To say I was embarrassed would be an understatement.
Nonplussed, Ellen pulled out the registration card and I handed both items to the officer, staring in the side mirror as he walked back to the cruiser, my face beet red. The silence in the car was as profound as the quiet after a grandmother's fart during grace - I didn't know whether to laugh or pretend it never happened.
I started to give her an explanation but decided to give up. We had an expression back in the day that somehow seemed appropriate - wasted chalk. She would never believe anything I said.
But if I swore if I ever found out the athlete who put them there he would be reminded I have a memory like an elephant. That the college story he hoped was locked in my safe would be exposed to the light of day. Because guys that pull pranks like this always have one.
Enjoy this story? Be sure to check out the rest of the website where you can purchase my books, "A Golden Era" and "A Long Road Ahead" which tell the stories of the high school and college running careers of a father in the 70s and his son in the 2000s.