Sunday, July 5, 2009

1: A Chance Encounter

My best friend and I decided to meet at a local restaurant on a hot July evening for a late dinner. I reasoned that it was too hot to cook; apparently, everyone else that came into the diner had the same thoughts—not to mention it was karaoke night, so the local singers were out, too. The place was packed, and when we were finally seated, the hostess escorted us to a cramped booth by the kitchen door.

As Eva perused the menu, I scanned the room. The only advantage to our seats was the view of the restaurant. I spotted a man at the bar who closely resembled the Saturday Night Live cast member Andy Samberg. Eva and I both thought his skits were hilarious, so I quickly pointed him out to Eva.

“Look! That guy looks just like Andy Samberg!”

Either I said that a little too loudly, or he felt my eyes on the back of his head, because he turned his head and looked behind him.

“Don’t look now,” I whispered to Eva, as I looked away after accidentally making eye contact with the doppelganger. After a few seconds, I casually glanced back up, only to find that he was still looking at me. I picked up my menu and pretended to read. “Oh, damn, he caught me.”
Eva was still enveloped in the menu. “What are you going on about?” she asked. “Have you ever tried the wings here? Are they any good?”

“They’re okay,” I answered. Again, I peered at the bar. The Andy look-a-like was walking away from the bar—and towards us! Now that he was standing, I noticed his muscular build and concluded it was definitely not the SNL star. He must have thought I was checking him out, and that’s why he was approaching. I was so embarrassed, and I’m sure my face was bright red, but I couldn’t look away.

He was wearing a pair of blue jeans, which I had noticed fit his butt fantastically, and a black fitted tee shirt that showcased very broad shoulders and strong arms. He was wearing a simple black baseball cap, pulled down over his face. Wisps of dark brown hair curled from under the edges of his hat, and they looked soft and touchable.

“Hello, ladies,” he said, in a very soft voice that seemed disproportionate to his body size. “Would you like an autograph?”

An autograph? I thought. Why would I want this stranger’s autograph?

“Um, no thanks,” I replied.

Eva finally looked up from the menu as the hulking figure by our table adjusted his hat so we could see his eyes, which were as dark brown as his hair. “Oh my God! It’s Sidney Crosby! You’re in town, being interviewed with Ben Roethlisberger about Pittsburgh’s young athletes.”

“That’s right,” he said. “I’m supposed to meet Ben and the interviewer here in a few minutes.”

“Why don’t you sit with us while you wait?” Eva asked.

I could have smacked my forehead. He was the captain of Pittsburgh’s professional hockey team, the Penguins, and my friend was inviting him to join us at our table. “So that’s why I recognized you,” I explained. “My coworker’s a huge hockey fan, especially of the Pens.”

“Oh,” he said. “Would you like my autograph for your coworker?”

I wondered why he was so generous with his signatures. Wouldn’t he be glad that no one was pestering him for his John Hancock? “He’ll never believe I met you,” I responded.

“He would if you had your picture taken together,” prompted Eva.

Sidney slid into the booth seat next to me, and I moved in to give him more room. With an ass like that, he needed more room. “That should be proof enough,” he suggested.

I was thankful that I had put on make-up and done by hair before going out—a rarity, especially in this heat.

“Really, you don’t have to,” I said politely. “I mean, I’m sure you want some peace, and don’t want to suffer through this fan stuff.”

Eva shot me a dirty look. Here was a gorgeous man, and famous too, who wanted to spend a few minutes with us, and I wanted to turn him away. Eva couldn’t care less about hockey, but she did care about the fine male specimen Sidney was.

He shrugged. “It’s the fans who make the team. Pittsburgh’s such a great city to play in, and it’s amazing to see fans out here, too.”

I laughed. “It’s not like this is the boondocks. I mean, yeah, we are more country than urban, but we’re big hockey fans out here, too. The high school team won the Penguins cup this past June.”

Sid turned his head to face me, and I got a better look at him up close. His brown eyes had flecks of gold in them, and his big lips were pink, soft-looking, and (dare I say it) inviting. I was fascinated by his mouth as he talked. “Maybe, but I’m not getting mauled out here by people, and I’m even being mistaken for an actor over a hockey player,” he joked. So he had heard me, and I felt my cheeks burn.

“Oh, come on,” I said, trying to cover my mistake. “I’m sure you’ve heard that before, that you look like Andy Samberg, because I’ve seen the comparison more than once. Besides, I’m sure it’s nice to avoid the to-do of going out around here.”

The waitress stopped over and interrupted our polite conversation. I was thankful for the disruption, because I was nervous and unsure of what to say to him. I was only slightly awestruck—Sidney was calm and easy-going, so I wasn’t intimidated much by who he was—but I was awfully shy because he was so damn cute! I was afraid of misspeaking again and embarrassing myself, and therefore giving him the wrong impression of me.

“Have you girls decided on anything? Are you joining them, sir?” the waitress asked, completely unaware of Sidney’s superstar status.

“No, not for long,” he replied, “I’ll just have a water, please.”

“Okay,” she said, sounding annoyed that he wouldn’t be ordering anything with a price tag, which would mean her twenty percent tip wouldn’t be inflated. “And for you?” she asked in Eva’s direction.

“Um, I’ll have the Italian panini,” she said.

The waitress wrote down her order, and then turned to me. I asked for the steak salad, with ranch dressing on the side, and a bottle of Miller Lite. She asked to see my I.D., and I flinched. Normally, it’s nice to be carded, but when I remembered how awful my picture was, and that I would have to pass it by Sidney, I immediately regretted ordering alcohol. How unflattering.
Sidney didn’t seem to notice, and I hurriedly slipped my driver’s license into my wallet after the waitress handed it back. She said she’d return with our drinks and quickly walked away to deal with her other tables.

With the server gone, our conversation awkwardly began again.

“So,” Eva said, encouraging the discussion, “you’re here just for an interview? This is still the off-season for hockey, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” he said, looking relieved to have a familiar topic. “I’m doing the interview while the Steelers have training camp. I have some things that need to be taken care of before my training camp starts.”

The waitress brought a glass of water for Sidney and my bottle of beer to our table. I took a sip as Eva said, “Like finally buying a house and moving out of Mario’s?”

I nearly spit my mouthful of Miller Lite over myself, but I tried to stop from spewing liquid everywhere—which lead to me inhaling and filling my lungs with beer. I began to laugh and cough at the same time, nearly choking. Sidney turned his body to completely face me and asked in a concerned voice if I was okay. I nodded, but my face colored and I couldn’t stop coughing. Trying to help, he patted my back and offered his glass of water. “Breathing helps,” he added.
That smart-ass remark made me laugh even more. I took his water and sipped, and after what seemed like an eternity, I regained my ability to breathe. I wiped my cheeks to clear the tears that had streamed from my eyes.

“Thanks,” I said, placing the glass back on the table and take a few deep breaths. My throat ached and felt scratchy.

“No problem,” he said, and finally chuckled—either at my near-death experience or as a delayed response to Eva’s comment. “Actually, I have been looking at houses. I looked around last year, but nothing felt right,” Sidney said, continuing the conversation right where we left off.

“You’re a millionaire,” Eva said. “And you’re living with your boss. Don’t you want to have girls over? Have a little freedom?”

“Eva!” I cried.

“What?” she said. “I want to know.”

Sidney looked a little uncomfortable with the question, but he was gracious and diplomatically answered. “You sound like all the guys on the team, ribbing me about it. Living with Mario allows me to focus more on my job and improving my game than I could if I lived on my own and had to clean and cook.”

“Which I think is just fine,” I said to counter my friend’s harsh opinion. “If that’s what it takes for you to play the way you do, and for this team to win championships, I’m all for it!”

“Thanks,” he said, joking. “That means a lot coming from someone who isn’t a fan.”

“I’m a fan,” I said, in mock offense.

“You call yourself a fan, and you don’t even recognize the players?”

“I am a fan, really. I’m just not a crazy fanatic that obsesses over individual players. It’s a team sport, and I support the team.”

“So you don’t own a jersey?” he prodded.

I felt caught. “Yes,” I admitted. “A Talbot jersey.”

“So, you do support individual players, just not me?” he teased.

“Okay, listen,” I said. “I have one jersey to support one player. But only because I felt that Max was underrated, and needed more love from the fans. Yes, he’s considered a clutch player, or a big game player, but if he was given the opportunity during the regular season, I think he would have more of an impact on the games and his points would skyrocket.”

Sidney opened his mouth to comment, but he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Big Ben, the Steelers’ quarterback, had entered the restaurant with the interviewer from the local newspaper. “Well, it looks like that’s my cue. It was really nice to meet you…”

When he paused, my friend quickly chimed in with our names. “I’m Eva, and this is my friend, Noelle.”

“Well, Eva and Noelle, it was nice to meet you. Maybe if the interview doesn’t take too long, we can continue this conversation? You seem to have some interesting thoughts on the team. And then you can get your picture to show your co-worker.”

I blushed and nodded. “It was nice to meet you, too, Sidney. We’ll be here for a while, I’m sure.”

With that, he got up and left, heading over to the quiet corner table that had been reserved so the interview could be conducted. That song lyric popped into my head: You hate to watch her go, but love to see her leave. Wow, did that apply to Sidney Crosby and his bootylicious behind. He glanced back and gave us a quick smile, and I just about melted into the booth seat.

“Oh my goodness!” I squealed quietly. “I can’t believe we just met Sidney Crosby!”

“I know!” Eva replied. “And you were going to tell him to go away!”

“Well, I didn’t want him to go away, but I didn’t want to come off looking like a giddy fan begging for an autograph.”

“Well, you didn’t, because you didn’t get one!”

I shrugged. “He may be back. Besides, I’d rather have that conversation with him as a person than a signature from a famous hockey player. He seemed really down-to-earth, considering he’s the face of the NHL.”

The waitress brought out food over quickly, and we ate without much conversation between us. We were hungry, but also still soaking in the crazy moments preceding our dinner.

As we were finishing our meal, I thought of ordering another beer to prolong our evening out, and to see if Sidney really would return to our table like he said he would after his interview. Unfortunately, the waitress brought our check, without first asking if we wanted anything else, and Eva received a call from her mother, asking if she would be home soon so they could go shopping. Due to these factors, we called an end to our night, even though I was very reluctant to leave.

We stood and gathered our things, and I glanced over in the direction of that corner table. I saw Sidney, mid-sentence, look at us and wave as we left. I nodded my goodbye and sadly headed for the door, ending my glorious night with Sidney Crosby.

1 comment:

  1. bahahaha!!!

    this reminds me of october of last year.
    john tavares: do you want me to sign something?
    me: oh, no
    JT: did you want a photo, then?
    me: um, no that's okay.

    first of all, I totally knew who he was (I WENT TO OSHAWA JUST TO SEE HIM PLAY) and second, I had a Canada jersey that I'd bought that day at the HHOF IN MY BAG... I am the world's biggest dunce... *bows*

    BAHAHAH and my verification word was ISTUD. What, like iPod? For hot people?