• Down and Out with Derek - Epilogue

    The smells and sounds of the kitchen downstairs awoke Derek with a yawn. He stretched under his Power T comforter, knocking his stuffed orange dog to the floor. Derek groggily mumbled "Get back up here, Kiffy" as he picked his cherished stuffed animal up and set it back on the bed.

    "Derek! Breakfast is ready!" Barbara Dooley called from downstairs. Derek sighed the sigh of frustration any man in his 40's who still lives with his mother knows, and headed down the stairs. It was time to get this day started, and go "water that bamboo." Derek changed out of his orange onesy pajamas and into his Tuesday khakis and custom Tennessee polo. Derek was a detail-oriented type of guy, and couldn't stand wearing the Adidas coach's polo. He had some tailor-made to more fit his vision of the image of a Tennessee coach. Every time he put his special shirt on, he smiled and remembered what he had learned from Coach Saban: "details matter, and make the difference." "The culture of success starts with me," Derek thought as he proudly examined his Tuesday outfit in the full-length mirror he kept in his room.

    "Derek, honey! Breakfast!" Barbara called again. "I'll be right there ma, I just need to comb my hair." Derek answered back, with only the smallest trace of annoyance in his voice.

    Thirty minutes later, Derek came trotting down the stairs. "Good morning, Precious!" Barbara cooed as Derek pulled out a chair at the table and sat with perfect posture. "Good morning, ma. You don't have to cook me breakfast every morning, you know." "Oh Derek, you know how I love to take care of my sweet little baby. My little coach." she said with a proud grin. "How are things going with planning for Spring practice?"

    "Not good, ma. I'm really at a loss here. I'm like Pope Alexander the VI when France invaded Italy and didn't want to accept his decision on the line of ascension for the Neapolitan crown. My team and staff are Catholics that won't listen to their Pope. It ain't right." Dooley lamented.

    "Oh, my little Derek. I have no idea what you're talking about but you're so cute when you talk like that. I'm sure you'll figure something out. Finish your waffles and have a good day at the school. Don't forget to grab the lunch I made you on your way out. Now, dinner will be late tonight because I am going to be a guest on a radio show in Atlanta. I'll see you tonight."

    Derek had been mostly tuning out the constant drone of his mother's breathless responses, but the last part had caught his attention. "Aw ma, you aren't going to embarrass me are ya? You know I don't like it when you go on those shows." Barbara, who had been standing over the sink, spun around to face Derek with her hands on her hips. "Now Derek, your mother knows what is best for you. I have to make sure folks hear what a wonderful sweet boy you are, and how TALENTED you are. I don't want a bunch of malcontents picking on my sweet little angel over some stupid ball games."

    "But ma, the guys are going to make fun of me again. It isn't like th--" Barbara cut him off with a stern face and the raising of one finger. Derek knew what that meant. "Ah, jeez ma." He sighed, finished cleaning his plate, bid his mother farewell and departed for the office.

    Catching his reflection in the rearview mirror as he pulled out of the driveway, Derek couldn't help but smile. Damn that custom polo looked good. Details matter, and it was going to be a good day.