A Little Round Ball

UM Tiger fans gathered for the taping of a radio show featuring Coach Josh Pastner during which a drawing was held for an autographed round ball.

Just because I am an arts type of person, it doesn’t mean I don’t dabble in the basketball from time to time. In fact, I have  even been known to dribble to and fro from basket to basket.  (And no, that was not a typo, “the basketball”, it is after all called THE ballet, and THE opera isn’t it? I am just showing the round ball some respect.)

What I like to do is to get say five baskets, then I run down to the other end of the court, and try to make five more baskets. To add a little extra zip to the proceedings, I pretend I am being chased by another team. Do that for about thirty minutes, and then go work out for about 45 minutes. That is what I used to do at our church gym–and to great effect!

This factoid surprised my dinner companions, some fine young fellows,  two of whom are associated with Tiger Sports Properties. TSP is the outfit that handles the  marketing and licensing for  the University of Memphis athletics folks –and they were  the  reason I found myself attending the taping of a radio show featuring young Coach Josh Pastner.

I was surprised to see how large young Coach Josh is! I thought he was sort of a small guy, but of course, whenever I have seen him on television he is standing around next to some pretty tall guys on the UM basketball team. He is very polite and his mom, like the moms of the Tiger Sports people,  would be very proud.

It was sort of funny, we were introduced, and he was saying all of the right things to

An autograph from the "early years".

say, like thank you for supporting the team, and I was saying all of the right things as well, like we are so happy to support the school and our community, and it turned into one of those situations like you see when one Japanese businessman will bow, and then the other bows, and then the other guy bows some more, and then so on forever.

It finally ended with me telling him to come see us on Valentine’s Day. I cannot imagine having a coach for a husband, and I wish the best for their young family. It cannot be an easy ride  to be traveling  such an unpredictable road. Bless them.

The autographed basketball was the perfect metaphor for our discovery that it is indeed a small world!

The next surprise was when my name was drawn for the autographed basketball. And the next one after that was that when I went to retrieve it, it was so small! So to review, the coach was bigger than I thought, and the ball was much smaller.

But that was not the greatest  surprise of the evening.

The shocker was that when  I asked the fellows where they were from,  I learned that both of them had been assigned to schools in Utah before coming to Memphis.

“Oh!”, I said, “My brother has lived there, and now his son and daughter in law live in Logan.”

Brad asked her name, and was flabbergasted when I told him, “Jette.”

“Oh my gosh, she was our real estate agent! ” he exclaimed. And then the other fellow chimed in that he had met her, too, when the marketing company had presented a proposal to the university group where  she serves on a board.

We slipped out and called her–her number was still in the contacts on his cell phone!

Now this is the kind of story that warms the cockles of any southerner’s heart, since from birth we are acclimated to the expectation that there are myriad cousins out there just waiting to be discovered. A southerner believes the past time of figuring out  seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon is a game for Hollywood amateurs. We are not surprised to discover that we are related to the person seated next to us at a dinner party–we expect it. If we are not related, then we know that we must surely “know their people”.

I like this about us southerners. Our need to know what is going on with folks. Our desire to feel connected, and to understand how other people are connected. It’s a healthy thing. It means we care.

Meals are a great way to connect, and we should all try to eat with one another more often. It’s a joyous thing.

In the south, more than two degrees of separation would intimate that there is an aberration that has occurred in the universe.   But even if that is the case, that will not stop us from creating a connection. It is vital to a southerner to feel a connection to everyone we meet.

So the evening was all good. Afterward I scurried over to our rehearsal, and listened as our singers learned their parts for the upcoming opera, Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Even though I wound up eating a dish that featured some frolicsome grits with pork tenderloin–I came away with a renewed zest for getting myself back on the court.

And best of all, I discovered what a little round ball it truly is.