The start of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York is always a nostalgic time for me, as I look back on all those lovely female tennis players who slept in my bed over the years.
Sadly, I wasn't in my bed at the time. I was out in our garage on an Army cot, swatting mosquitoes.
This all happened in the glorious 1970s, when women's tennis was dominated by the likes of Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, and featured a favorite of mine -- a transsexual named Renee Richards.
Renee sure did liven up the tour, and as far as I'm concerned that's what women's tennis could really use to spice things up these days -- a former male or two.
But I'm getting away from the story of all those lovely female tennis players, sleeping in my bed.
This was the deal: my sister Mary was a rising star, and when she traveled the country to play in tournaments she was "put up" in the homes of the local players.
So when the circuit swung around to New York City, my parents reciprocated by accommodating female players from out of town.
This they accomplished by kicking me out of my bedroom, and sending me to sleep in the garage.
Actually, I liked sleeping in the garage. I considered it my first apartment. Besides,
some of those girls were pretty cute, and my imagination carried me to feverish dreams of that midnight knock on the garage door, a knock that never did happen.
Two reasons for this: victory and defeat.
If the visiting girl won her match, she needed her rest for the next day, so she went to bed early.
If the girl lost her match -- which is what usually happened -- she came back to our house cranky, depressed and far from amorous.
Win or lose, those girls were strung even tighter than the tennis rackets they swung with so little success.
A typical tense dinner table scene from back then, after the visiting player had just absorbed a first-round clobbering:
Me: "How'd you do today?"
Visiting Player: "Lost to Billie Jean, love and one."
Me: "At least you got a game."
My mother (whispering): "Charles! Be nice!"
My father: "Could somebody pass the potatoes?"
(Visiting player suddenly bursts into tears, runs upstairs to my room.)
Me: "I guess she doesn't like passing potatoes."
(My mother glares at me, then runs upstairs to my room -- MY room -- to calm the girl down.)
Look at it this way -- half the players are knocked out of the U.S. Open in the first round. I'd say half of that half stayed at our house. It adds up to a lot of rejection.
But those annual two weeks in the garage taught me a great deal about life. One thing I learned was that when it comes to a good night's sleep, an Army cot is not the way to go.
The other thing I learned was that guests who have it good don't leave in any particular hurry.
Even when they lost in the first round, those girls hung around New York for the full two weeks of the tournament. Why not? My mother fed them, washed their clothes, and consoled them after players like Evert and King destroyed their dreams of glory.
Well, dreams die hard, and so did my dream of finding love in the garage.
To make my romantic pursuits even tougher, some of those girls were bible-thumpers, praying for victory over players with less faith but better forehands.
One of them pegged me for a heathen right off the bat and actually tried to save my soul, which was not only insulting but a nasty speed bump to encounter when I was trying to get her to join me in the breaking of a few Commandments.
So there was no romance, but when she left New York she did leave a gift behind on my pillow -- a soft-cover bible.
I never read it, but it came in handy the following summer, when I was once again banished to the garage for the duration of the U.S. Open.
I used it to kill mosquitoes. Praise the Lord, it worked even better than a fly swatter.
Charlie Carillo is a producer for the TV show "Inside Edition." His novels "God Plays Favorites," "Found Money," "My Ride With Gus" and "Shepherd Avenue" are available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents.
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