Thursday, December 17, 2009

Super Neutral Sites

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When I moved to Florida to attend school at Broward Community College (BCC), was Sports Editor of that paper called The New Horizons, and also worked at the Hallandale Digest, I found Pizza Hut in Hallandale to be my home away from home. The environment was so relaxing that I'd do my homework and work on sports stories.

In 1981, I'd eat my personal pan pizza, salad bar and best of all there were refills on ice tea. At that time, I was a transplant from Detroit and I did so much sweating that I needed to get fluids back into my system.

I enjoyed Pizza Hut so much that I took my close friend Mark Paterson, whom I attended the 1982 NCAA Final 4 in New Orleans there, and we'd hang out to talk about sports, school, women, etc. We were both so competitive that we had our own Ice Tea Drinking Contest. My favorite waitress Lisa watched in amazement as we both consumed 2.5 pitchers a piece. The challenge ended in a tie but both of our kidneys paid the price the rest of the night as we had fun with our friendly competition.

Patterson is pictured outside of a store in Hollywood, Florida on www.scottsports33.com. We went to our respective homes and just called each other on the phone for hours to joke around how much fun that was. Back then, I weighed a mere 105 pounds. I wish I could say that today.

When I moved to North Carolina in 1987, the Pizza Hut in Kings Mountain was my hangout.

Being a Yankee/outsider, these people in small mom and pop small town restaurants frowned upon Yankees taking too much time and generally wanted me out in 45-60 minutes. Being accepted was difficult in this environment.

But at this Pizza Hut, a young waitress named Ann Baucum always treated me great and her hospitality was truly appreciated. She had many great qualities. She was a pretty dark blonde haired young lady, attractive on the outside but most of all had a tremendous heart. She had so many great qualities that I wanted to date her because of her sweet personality. There was one problem. She was engaged to be married.

As a consolation prize, I was invited to her wedding but couldn't attend due to my heavy work schedule with the Gastonia (Texas) Rangers. Perhaps the biggest regret was I should have tried to rearrange my schedule and then she could have introduced me to another kind southern lady.

Nevertheless, she kept serving me endless amounts of Sweet Tea and if you haven't had Sweet Tea in the South, this stuff is so potent that it would send a Diabetic into Cardiac Arrest! But did I ever get charged up when I loaded up on it and yes, I managed to get a lot of work done.

When I returned to South Florida in 2002, my primary hangout used to be Gatsby's in Boca Raton. This place was filled with televisions, wonderful waitresses, managers, valet attendants, and big booths to write my stories.

But as my work schedule changed and with Gatsby's opening time of 4 PM no longer sufficient, I needed a place to go during the daytime and write my stories for the Detroit Monitor and Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.

In honor of legendary game show host Bob Barker, since I knew I'd be a regular customer, "The Price Is Right" led me to hangout at CiCi's in Deerfield Beach. For under $7, no tip necessary, there is a nice pizza, salad and dessert buffet, plus all the Diet Coke I needed to keep my Wheels Turning enabling me to write my stories and do my studying.

There were times when there were no kids therefore, ESPN programming was on, which gave me more ideas to write about enabling me to keep "My Wheels Turning." The more caffeine I consumed, the more creative I came on and off paper.

Having my best friend Dennis Roetzel to talk to and hang out with made the experience that much more worthwhile. We've had great time and should the day I come where I leave South Florida, I can only hope there are more people like Dennis in other areas. What a truly one of a kind person!

While I appreciate the new computer my parents bought me when my other desktop crashed, and this new one is the brains behind My Blog, what you see here is a result of what I've done on many occasions at my many "Super Neutral Sites" therefore these places enhance my concentration and helps keep me away from the distractions at home.

Even though Libraries are great, I enjoy certain types of restaurants with quiet areas, good food, drinks and great people to associate with. I have to admit that when I do go into a restaurant, I am territorial and stake out my favorite spots. There are times that I'll wait a period of time to get that booth or table, take a interim spot and when the people leave, motor over to my "Office Away From Home."

The reason championship games, particularly the Super Bowl are played in "Neutral Sites" is because it's easier to maintain focus. The same can indeed hold true as a student or professional. A legal pad and pen at the dollar store will go a long ways when you want to concentrate on your next idea, goal, etc.

Whether I'm in the USA or any foreign country, the legacy of the "Neutral Site" will always go with me.

I've even done work at Hooters, Chili's, Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's and many of these places allow you to bring your laptop and have wireless access. They do give refills on drinks.

But just give me a cooperative manager, Diet Coke, Ice Tea, and you can compare that to putting gas into an automobile which will keep my vehicle running firing on all cylinders. It's easy to bang out stories written on legal paper, edit them on the computer wrapping it up with spell check.

Even my mother, who has admitted that spelling isn't her strong point, enjoys spell check as well as editors and professors.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and My Blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com

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