Yeah, that's it. I'll blame it on the day-time beers.
I was in Fort Myers, Fla. and was visiting with my girlfriend's parents. My lovely girlfriend, Brianna, surprised her parents with tickets to the symphony that night so she closely monitored my day-time beer intake.
I still had to wait on the outcome of two boxing matches in Las Vegas and then decide if I could get something into my paper before deadline. Ahh, the life of a traveling sports hack.
USVI professional boxers Samuel Rogers and John Jackson were fighting for minor WBC titles that night and instead of sitting ring side in Sin City, I was rubbing elbows with silver-haired snow birds from all across the land.
Yes, they came from far and wide to take in the soothing tunes of the local symphony. What's the difference between a symphony and a orchestra you ask? Good question. I googled it during the first intermission and learned they are basically the same thing. So I did take something away from this valuable night of culture.
Then my cell phone buzzed because I had a text message. Then it buzzed again. And then a third time.
Not only did I have two local boxers fighting over a thousand miles away but a high school all-star football game was being held back on St. Croix. It was a game I helped organize but since it was postponed twice (due to confusion), I was in Florida and not on the sidelines.
Turns out, there were no sidelines. No one mowed the grass and the referees did not show up. So they had 50 angry football players getting screwed over once again and about five different coaches texted to tell me how pissed they were because another commissioner dropped the ball entirely.
Welcome to the Virgin Islands.
I quietly slipped out of the theater and didn't make a sound. As I briskly walked into the foyer, my phone started to ring. It was one of the boxers calling from Vegas. I knew this was my only chance at the interview so without thinking, I walked into a nearby bathroom.
I walked into a stall, pulled out my voice recorder and interviewed Samuel Rogers about knocking some chump out in the 10th round. While I listened to his descriptions of divine perseverance and Mohammad Ali cliches, I quickly noticed that I was standing in the cleanest bathroom stall I had ever seen.
I talked loudly because I had to hold the recorder close to the speaker on my phone. My heightened voice did not deter an older woman in a prom dress from entering the main bathroom area.
“What the hell?” I asked myself out loud.
“No, no … I said I wanted to thank God,” Rogers said back on the phone.
I looked around for a second and then immediate shock consumed me. Why are there no urinals in this bathroom? Oh shit...
I put my phone call with Rogers on hold without telling him, walked past grandma who was now washing her hands and didn't really acknowledge my presence. I can only hope she was hearing-impaired.
I exited the woman's bathroom just as a group of teenagers stood near the candy/coffee counter gawking at me. As if they had waited for this moment. To my right, a few women sat in chairs and gave me the stink eye from hell. The teenagers started to point and snicker.
My utter embarrassment hit a new plateau because I started to stutter, “I, I, I, I thought...wait a second...I, I, I...”
The teenage snickers elevated to full-blown laughter as a result of my bumbling banter. I looked to my left as an elderly male usher stood near the theater door and just looked down toward his feet, closed his eyes and shook his head slightly.
A few superiors in my day had given me that same look before and I think my dad had thrown it at me once or twice while growing up. It was the look of pure disgrace and unnerving disappointment.
I literally ran down the hall to escape but the teenage laughter echoed behind me. The whole time, Rogers was still on the phone and I had digitally recorded the entire fiasco.
“Aaron, are you still there?” Rogers asked.
I didn't know what to do. I bolted into the men's room (I triple-checked before I entered), walked past a row of filthy urinals and slowly put the phone back to my ear.
“Oh my God,” I said faintly.
“That's what I'm saying,” Rogers said. “I put all my faith in God and he helped me in the ring tonight.”