Back in 1979, on a cold December night at Augusta Christian Schools, two high school students had just watched a basketball game and were ready to say goodbye.
But before leaving the Baston Road campus, the girl and boy succumbed to temptation.
There, under an oak tree, I stole the first kiss from my soon-to-be high school sweetheart.
One thing led to another - love, sex, heartbreak, all in that order.
In the course of covering Columbia County sports, I've visited Augusta Christian countless times. The oak tree is still there, and so are the memories, both good and bad.
But now, in light of what has happened to Mike Gold, and considering my confession, am I still worthy to report on AC athletics?
Gold, the ex-Augusta Christian athletic director and former basketball coach, has lost his jobs allegedly because of a relationship with another faculty member at the school. Gold reportedly has denied having sex with the woman.
Just call me heathen - I make no such denials for indiscretions which occurred more than 20 years ago.
Can I be forgiven? That's not a question for the powers that be at AC, but a prayer for a pass from a higher power. While I'm at it, I'll put in a word for the best high school basketball coach I've known.
After nearly nine years of exemplary service, Gold wasn't forgiven. Sources say he was given the option either to resign or be fired for breaking the stringent standards set forth in his contract with the Christian school.
We have all fallen short of the Glory of God, but when Gold signed on with AC, he set himself up for a fall.
Augusta Christian is accredited by American Christian Schools International. The affiliation comes with strict rules of conduct, including zero tolerance regarding certain interaction between staff members.
Gold broke a rule and now he's gone.
Having not signed anything, and since I'm not employed by Augusta Christian, maybe I still can show may face there and not be stoned (by hurled rocks, that is - and I'm not talking about crack, either.)
As for Gold: since the news of his sudden departure hit earlier this month, he has been harder to track down than Osama bin Laden. Gold is not answering his phone or returning messages from the media.
Really, I had no interest in writing anything on this situation before talking to Gold. He's earned that much respect; however, the issue is a hot topic in Columbia County, and had to be addressed.
While settling in to pen this piece, I was straddling the fence. Hashing out the truth of the "he said, she said" is impossible.
Then the ghosts of Christmas past came calling.
On that December night in 1979, wheels were set in motion under that oak tree at Augusta Christian. Had I known then what I know now, I still would have stolen that kiss.
Sure, sins followed. So did punishments. Possibly redemption.
The same things happened to Gold - temptation, sin and punishment. Certainly redemption.
And if we could journey with the ghost of Christmas future, we'd see the same things happening from here to eternity.
So don't blame Mike Gold for being human. The trouble at AC started long ago, and not with two silly teens under an oak tree in a parking lot.
Go back to the beginning, when there was a tree with forbidden fruit in the garden, and a serpent set the sinful course for us all...
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