In writing sports stories, I’ve sometimes penned the penultimate stanza, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry,” which I once attributed to Charles Steinbeck, but was quickly corrected by retired school teacher Herb Sherman who said it was actually from a poem Robert Burns wrote in 1785.
When referencing the poem on the sports page, my intent was to show no matter how well we plan, sometimes things go wrong.
For instance, there are high school football teams that seem totally prepared before a game only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Early this week, I experienced my own version of the best-laid scheme that went awry.
It all began when fellow reporter Alexis Beckham asked me if I would take her to Camp Tontozona east of Payson for a news story she was writing about a deck collapse that had injured some high school students and severed a gas line.
Now, Alexis is a University of Arizona graduate and it’s well known that Sun Devil alum, like myself, do not play well with Wildcats.
Alexis, however is a sweetheart and is not one of those Arizona scalawags who run around calling ASU “Tempe Normal” or the Sun Devils “Scum Devils.”
Nonetheless, taking Alexis to Camp Tontozona was akin to trapping a Wildcat in a Sun Devil lair.
My plan was once we were at Camp T, to possibly photograph her near the huge “Sparky” on the camp’s water tank. Or catch her someplace else where an obvious ASU logo was located.
Later, I could pass the photo around to Roundup employees claiming I had successfully converted a Cat into a Devil. Heck, maybe we’d even use it in the sports pages as part of our coverage of ASU’s upcoming visit to Tontozona.
Also, my goal was to wow Alexis with the pristine beauty of ASU’s football camp, which those rogues down in Tucson can only dream about.
After arriving at Tontozona, I was about to jump-start my heady scheme only to notice rain begin to fall.
Then, just as Alexis and I were walking the last few yards into the camp, the mother of all lightning storms struck, sending chills down my spine.
Also, it turned immediately obvious she doesn’t like lightning any more than I do.
So I scampered (Well, that’s not a good word. Maybe, at my age, I should have used trudged) up the hill to where I’d parked my truck.
Once in it, I steered the aging purple beauty down to near the Tontozona cafeteria where Alexis was photographing the collapsed deck.
She scurried in and with rain falling and lightning striking around us, we retreated to Payson and the friendly confines of the Roundup.
Obviously, I departed Tontozona without my picture of the Wildcat alum and Sparky and without a chance to tout the sheer beauty of the camp.
Once again, it’s like Robert Burns inked, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry.”