Mack Williams: In the ‘Green Room’ with the cheerleaders
Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2022
When I told someone the other day that I had sung the National Anthem one game per year over the last 9 years for the Winston-Salem Dash baseball team, he asked if I’d ever performed the same at a basketball game, to which I said “Yes, Wake Forest, this past February!”
On that game day, and post parking, my daughter, Rachel, son, Jeremy, son-in-law, Richard, daughter-in-law, Rose, and I walked past the torso-height veterans’ memorial stones outside the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Each marker has the name of a Forsyth County soldier and the war of the soldier’s death, giving the over-all appearance of multiple un-capped obelisks. Although I knew none of the memorialized soldiers, just seeing their names engaged my mind in imagined reveries of their lives as I headed inside to sing for, and enjoy the game.
A Wake Forest Athletics’ staff member met me and advised me on the protocol. He settled me into what I like to call the “green room,” consisting of tables chairs, coffee, water, etc. The cheerleaders were warming up there; and when I saw them, please believe me when I say I had no “awful old man thoughts!” My brain was too busy processing how surprisingly young they seemed to be! I was rapidly approaching my March 5th 71st birthday then ; and evidently, my age made them appear younger than they should be! I thought to myself: “The cheerleaders look high school age, instead of University age!” In a paraphrase of a song by the late “Meatloaf”: “Objects in the rear-view mirror appear younger than they really are!”(especially if one’s years are further advanced down life’s highway).
I met the two “Demon Deacon” mascots back stage. Yes, there are two of them, and not because each Demon (or Deacon) needs to provide break time for the other! One wears huge rubber shoes, while the other one’s shoes are more normal. Only the one with the oversized rubber shoes drives the motorcycle out to “rev up” the crowd; while the Deacon in more regular shoes just walks upon the basketball floor, as the other (along with the motorcycle)waits in the wings. It did occur to me how doubly confusing it might have been if Clark Kent had sometimes donned a pair of wire rims instead of his Buddy Holly glasses!).
As the Demon Deacon with the oversized rubber shoes sat next to me before the game, I told him his huge shoes reminded me of when my mother (Lorraine Williams) was fitted with orthopedic shoes in the late 1950s. I added that back then, my brother Joe and I said:” Our mother wears Frankenstein shoes!”(there has been great progress in orthopedic shoe design since). And when, in my “Demon Deacon-confessional,” I said that we must have been mischievous youngsters, the Demon Deacon just nodded in the affirmative (sports mascots usually don’t speak; it’s part of their mystique”).
My singing went well, with my son Jeremy making a video and my daughter Rachel taking pictures as I was projected onto the Jumbotron while singing (I started to say “Mellotron,” but that’s the instrument Mike Pinder played when he was with “The Moody Blues”).
My family enjoyed the game and being with each other! While glancing at the digital game clock, the thought occurred to me that we had come together from three separate cities; and that in addition to counting down the remaining moments of the game, the great clock was “ticking away” our “together time.”
But afterwards, time would “do an about face” and begin counting the moments till when we would all be together again.