FROM AUGUST 30, 2010
2010-chickfila-kickoffSaturday’s game will be special.  In many ways.  I will be with my cousin and her friend, both lunatic North Carolina fans.  My cousin’s dad, Uncle Gene was always the first to join in on Carolina away games.  My dad was often very quick to join him.

Well, this coming weekend is kind of a second-generation tradition thing.  Add into the mix, a third generation – my son.

But the whole trip sort of originated with that third generation – my son, Matt.  He and I have been to many games.  So have he and his mom.  So has just he.  But this game is special for him.  For me, too.  And I hope it is for Bret as well.

Bret was a young man my son met while spending a year at the “other Carolina” – SouthCarolina_Logo1the University of South Carolina – a few years ago.  Matt and Bret became good friends.  And Bret’s mom lived just a few miles from me in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

After spending a year in Columbia, Matt moved to Charlotte.  Bret moved home with his mom.  That’s when I met the young man.  He would come spend time at my house when Matt was home for a visit.  They mostly argued – about sports’ statistics and gambling techniques.  But they cared for one another.  That was clear.

Bret was a die-hard LSU fan.   Matt is a die-hard Tar Heel.  The both of them had talked about attending together a Carolina-LSU game some day.  That never happened.

Bret had some health issues.  None of the issues should have caused such a sudden and tragic end to that young guy’s life.  But some health problem did.  I’m not really sure what it was, or why he had to die so soon.  But he did.

Erik Highsmith, Brandon Taylor

Matt and I have pulled very hard for LSU since Matt’s friend died.  And we have toasted young Bret those times LSU won big games.  And we promised each other that if we ever had the chance, we would attend a Carolina-LSU game and toast that young guy’s life.  That game is Saturday.  We have dubbed the affair, “The Bret Bowl.”


I hope Bret hears our toasts to him this weekend.  And I hope he knows that the memory of his life brought my son and my cousin and another die-hard Tar Heel family member and me together – one more time.

Cheers young man.  Cheers Bret.


September 11, 2014:  Your team won the game, Bret.  But the four of us Carolina guys did, too.




I’m number 25.


“Go in, Moon, but don’t shoot.”  That’s not exactly what a young high school basketball player wants to hear from his coach.  But that is what mine said to me that one time when I finally got into a game.

Coach.  I just don’t think his heart was in the game.  He was some sort of a football star – in high school or college or both.  He was very big.  And he was an assistant coach on our school’s football team.  He knew football.  I guess.  He was a nice guy.  I liked him.  He was a bit intimidating, but I liked the guy.

coach gregg

Coach is the big guy on the right.

And the man did have a way with words.  I will never forget one time when he gave us one of the most inspirational halftime speeches I have ever heard.  It was a pep talk to beat all pep talks.  One night at half time, we were losing badly.  We had been playing badly against a team we should have easily beaten.  Coach set us straight in the locker room at halftime.  His talk put Knute Rockne’s best to shame.  It wasn’t a sappy “Win one for the Gipper” kind of stale old speech.  Coach’s inspirational words would have made Pat O’Brien’s character proud.

This talk was so memorable and monumental and important and effective, I will try to recall, word for word, the special message my awe struck teammates and I heard that night.  Okay.  Here goes.

“It’s like you got a wuuman.  She layin’ right daya in frun ah ya.  An you ain’t gettin’ nary a bit of it.  Not nary a bit!”

I think we lost the game by 30.  It seems none of us could get the image of that “wuuman” out of our minds.


lunacynotagThis is the first of many “Classic Lunacies” that I will be posting each week.   These are the most important old ones that were once lost.   They are the basis for what this has become over the years.    They are the basis for what is to come.    And – they are back now.




Miss Lawrence was my first grade teacher.  I loved that woman.  She looked a little like Carol Burnett – tall, thin, friendly face.  She was encouraging to us youngsters.  She always had good things to say.  Well, most always.

I was a good little kid.  I was a good first grader, and polite.  Miss Lawrence liked me, too.  I was one of her favorites.

One afternoon, we were reading aloud The Weekly Reader.  We took turns reading.  Miss Lawrence would call on us, one by one to read a paragraph.  At one point, she said, “David, please read the next paragraph.”  So, naturally I began to read aloud.  She turned her head, looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “Shut up.”  She then turned to the other David in the class, sitting on the opposite side of the room and said, “Please continue.”

Wow.  Talk about hurt feelings.  Add to that the incredible fear I suddenly had.  Miss Lawrence just yelled at one of her prize students.  For the first time.  And all I did was what she told me to do.  So I kept my mouth shut the rest of the day.

At some point that afternoon, I became overcome by the urge to use the bathroom.  I’m not sure if I was just an obedient kid or if I did what I did next because Miss Lawrence had scared the hell out of me.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to ask her if I could use the bathroom.  So, I let the liquid flow, right there in my little school desk seat.  I sat in that puddle for the rest of the day.

Fear and hurt feelings are no match for bodily functions.  Thank God for the freshly pressed white handkerchief my mom placed in my back pocket that day.