My friends and I were watching college football last weekend and once again had a chuckle at the Big 12 Conference football commercial (the one where the coaches all morph into each other like a Michael Jackson video). I said of the recently fired Coach Weis, "Charlie's body filled the whole screen." It reminded me of a story.
Ok...Vocational confession: When I'm not sporadically writing snarky articles for TSM or working on my dissertation, I'm a minister in real life. And a failed stand-up comic. You think you're surprised? So is everyone from my high school (about the minister thing). The forgiveness I need to seek from former girlfriends...forget about it. That's another story.
That said. I once had to conduct a funeral for someone I didn't know. It was the first time I had done so and I wanted to be kind; but frankly you don't know in those situations if someone was a good guy or a complete tool. Hence, you don't want to go overboard on the platitudes and appear disingenuous.
I asked my supervisor, a pastor with many years of experience, how I should prepare. He didn't know the deceased either, but he suggested some particular phraseology, and being a young vicar I took copious notes.
"Talk about how his presence filled every room he was in. Admire the impact he made on the Earth while he was alive," he said. "Remark how everyone said he had a huge heart."
With these tips in my pocket, I showed up on my ecclesiastical "game day" to deliver what would turn out to be the eulogy from hell.
You see...I didn't realize that the guy I was helping a family lay to rest weighed north of 500 pounds. Being new to the process, I never thought to rework my notes before speaking.
So I just plowed ahead as planned.
"What can I say about Bob? He had a HUGE heart."
The gasp in the congregation threw me off, but I continued on unaware. I dropped "compliment" #2.
"His family tells me that his presence filled every room he was in."
It was at this point where I realized something was wrong. But I'd say it was midway through my third statement that it dawned on me just what it was...
"Bob made a giant...(wait for it)...IMPACT on the earth." Oh, Lord.
HEADLINE: Failed stand up comic now a failed man of the cloth.
That last one (if you'll pardon the pun) put the final nail in my eulogistic coffin. Needless to say, I wasn't invited over to the house for the post funeral reception.
I share this tale of professional humiliation and failure during this week where Chubby Charlie lost his head coaching job at Kansas. He now must look forward to the next location where he'll continue to chase Watson Brown's record.
I mourn our loss.