Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When I met Darryl Talley

As part of my "voice and story" posts, I'm going to be posting some memories from life.  Not one person experiences life the same way, we all have unique experiences, and some are worth sharing.  This is one I truly believe is worth remembering.

In 1983, I was in 4th grade.  I was, as of then, undiagnosed with a learning disability in math.  I could get the answer, but not show my work.  We took a test that required us only to come up with the correct answer, and I did so well on it that I was a math field day alternate.  Me!  The one who barely could keep up in math class!  To celebrate, my grandmother told me to pick anyone in Morgantown, WV and she'd try to arrange dinner with them for me.  She expected me to pick a photographer from the paper, but I chose Darryl Talley, who was a senior at WVU.  I'm not quite sure why I picked him, I wasn't a huge football fan, but did watch it when I was in the room and Dad had football on TV.  I surprised everyone then with my pick, and it still surprises me.

An aunt and cousin went with Dad, Mom, Grandma, Papaw, and me to dinner at Western Sizzlin with Darryl Talley joining us.  I remember I took a belt buckle to give him, and I wasn't quite sure what to say when I met him, and just stuck it out and said, "Here."   Mom tried to get me to give the gift with a little more finesse, and suggested I wait to give it to him during dinner, not in the parking lot on that cold January day.

One thing I enjoyed most about meeting him, is how he interacted with everyone, but took extra time talking with me.  Everyone enjoyed his company, but yet because the dinner was because I chose him of anyone in Morgantown, he made me feel very special.  He answered questions about having recently been on the Bob Hope show.  (I laughed too loud, much to my mother's disapproval, when he talked of being chased by the make-up artists because he didn't want to wear make-up even if everyone on TV did!)

If Mom thought my laughter was too loud about that, what came next was even funnier.  He started telling about the argument he had with his girlfriend that afternoon.  He had said he was having dinner with a girl that evening, and his girlfriend ended up throwing a shoe at him before he could explain I was only nine years old!

Another loud moment of laughter from me came when one of our Polaroid photos developed.  The men sitting behind him in the restaurant photobombed the picture with goofy looks.  It was the first photobomb I ever saw, and I thought it was great.  It was another 31 years before the word "photobomb" was dubbed the word of the year.

It was a couple hours that was one of the highlights of my childhood.  To make the story even better, a couple months later there was a benefit basketball game at a nearby junior high school.  Some of the WVU football team were playing some local people to raise funds.  When we found out Darryl Talley was one of the players, I couldn't wait for us to go.  I was an awkward overweight kid, but my classmates sure were jealous of me that night.  When Darryl Talley saw us, he waved to us, and rounded up the WVU players who were there to come and say hello to us.  To not only have dinner with us, but then to introduce us to some of his team members and them give us autographs, I thought that was just the most wonderful thing ever.

When I found out he was being drafted by the Buffalo Bills,  it was after school.  I walked back to school that day so I could tell my teacher who was originally from New York and a Buffalo fan.

I followed Darryl Talley's pro football career and even collected every football card on which he was ever featured.  In the early 1990s, I refused to take down the Christmas tree until we made a trip to Morgantown to return gifts that didn't fit me.  As the SuperBowl approached, I decided that I would turn the tree into a Darryl Talley tree as the Bills were playing in the SuperBowl that year.  Recently I read about medical problems he has been having.  While I haven't seen him since I was nine, my heart goes out to him and his family.  He will always be a highlight of my childhood.

1 comment:

  1. What an exciting moment that must have been for you as a kid. Thats to bad his health isnt good.