Picture it: the dairy aisle in my local grocery store. I lean over to get a container of part skim ricotta when a tall man on crutches reached in to get another cheese product. Immediately, I said, “Oh, sorry.” To which he responded, “No worries. You are fine.” I thought how polite, so I looked up to smile and say thanks, and I realized it was Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies. I didn’t say anything else; I just turned and walked away and continued to shop. Then, when I got to the checkout line, he was in front of me.
Of all days for me to meet one of the Phillies. I hadn’t showered yet, so I was not looking my best. We had left my mom’s house in NJ early in the morning to beat traffic on the turnpikes, so I thought I would just shower when I got home. This grocery store stop was going to be quick, and I was praying I would not run into anyone I knew, and now twice I was face-to-face with Ryan Howard.
So, I decided to act cool. I didn’t want to make a big deal of the fact that he was standing right there in front of me waiting to pay for his groceries. I grabbed a tabloid magazine and pretended to be interested in the story, “Whose celebrity cellulite is this?” Other customers had out their cell phones and were snapping pictures. I was proud of myself in that I was much more dignified. I didn’t take one picture. No, I was hunched over my shopping cart sneakily texting my daughter, “OMG! Ryan Howard is here in front of me!” which on my phone came out to something like “OMG Swan Goyard is gere in fsont of me” because I was shaking when I was texting and couldn’t hit the right letters. I have absolutely no fine-tune skills under pressure. Thank God I didn’t become a neurosurgeon. Luckily, my daughter knew exactly what I was saying because her girlfriend was in the store too and snapped a picture of me behind Howard in line and may I say if I ever see that picture of me on Facebook, someone’s head is going to roll.
In my defense, I could have behaved a lot worse. I let the man and his fiancé ( I think fiance – pretty woman with a big ring) have space and privacy. Okay, I admit I thought of swiping the plastic divider thing that he put down so that I could put my groceries on the conveyer. And, I could have let out the words which I have buried deep within soul since that ill-fated series when the Phillies screwed up and got knocked of post season play:
“Ryan, why can’t you ever hit in October? You give me ulcers every post season. I love you, but hit the freaking ball!”
But I didn’t. I was just very nonchalant and gracious on the outside while keenly aware that on the inside, I felt like a tweenie-age girl at a Justin Bieber concert who might pass out if he said anything else directly to me.
Later, when I told a friend about seeing the famous athlete in the store, she yelled at me for not getting his autograph.
“I would never ask for an autograph in a grocery store; that is so rude,” I scolded her. ” Besides I had no paper on me for him to sign,” I explained. “I didn’t even have paper money; I grabbed my debit card before I left.”
“I would have let him sign my breast,” she admitted.
“Your 47-year-old breast? Yeah, that is what he wants to see in the middle of the grocery store — or anywhere. The man is already injured; have you no heart? And what would you do with a boob autograph? It would fade.”
“No, you Silly Putty the image and freeze it.”
Apparently, she has had experience in this matter. Well, that was my exciting encounter with a sports superstar. I have to admit it really did make my day. Now, if I run into Ryan Howard again , I know I can be calm and retain my dignity as long as he doesn’t speak to me directly and as long as I don’t have my friend and her 47-year-old breast with me.