A year ago -- almost exactly to the day, actually -- I met RA Dickey. This was back when he was still a New York Met (*sniffle*), and he did a meet-and-greet photo session at the M&M Store in NYC. (Odd, yes, but I wasn't about to question it.) That was in the afternoon, and that morning I'd been planning on going into the city anyway, to see a free Pentatonix show (which was fab, and I got to meet them afterwards too, so basically it was the best. But I digress).
|They are the awesomest. And I told Kirstie I like her blazer. :P|
By the time the Pentatonix thing ended, it was well into the chunk of time that RA was supposed to be meeting and greeting. So I hightailed it from Grand Central Station to Times Square by foot -- 'cause the subway would take too long! -- and arrived at the M&M Store, out of breath, to see... nothing.
I knew it'd be a close call, but I thought I'd at least be able to make it right at the tail end! I was seriously bummed but figured I might as well take a lap around the store, just in case. So I went up the escalator to the second floor and saw the little area all set up, but still nothing. I meandered around the store a little bit, not willing to give up yet because something felt kind of fishy. And then I turned a corner and there he was; RA Dickey, with a handful of store employees, picking out gifts for his kids.
Note to everyone out there: if you ever want to feel like your stomach dissolved, run into your favorite athlete unexpectedly.
So I scrambled away (because I wanted to meet him, but OH GOD what if he saw me?!?!?! #logic) and noticed a line forming, so I hopped on at the end. It turned out that the meet-and-greet hadn't even started yet, and that I was one of the first dozen or so people there. So the line in front of me dwindled quickly, and suddenly it was my turn, and I was walking up to RA Dickey and shaking his hand.
"I'm such a huge fan of yours," I said. (Super eloquent, right?)
He smiled, looking genuinely happy. "It means so much to me to hear you say that."
Thrilled with the state of my life, I went to stand beside his throne (seriously) to prepare for the picture and couldn't help telling him, "I might actually cry if you get traded."
He laughed in that flattered, embarrassed sort of way, we smiled for the camera, and I thanked him and scurried away.
But then, plot twist! The camera was supposed to send the pictures directly to a computer so they could be printed and put into a festive, pre-autographed frame. When I went over to get mine, there'd been some sort of malfunction, and several pictures hadn't loaded onto the computer. The employees were trying to figure out the situation and explain it to those involved, and that's when RA spoke up.
He pointed at me. "Did she get her picture?"
No, no I hadn't. Oh darn, I had to stand next to him again and get it redone!
|This picture gives me such a case of the warm-fuzzies. :)|
A week later he was a Toronto Blue Jay, and I actually did cry when he was traded.
So why the heck am I blathering on about this, you ask?
Well, because I hate that being considered a fan of someone or something has such a negative connotation. Not all of us scream and cry and beg our favorites to marry us, and hearing about the fan that threw herself at Ryan Lochte and injured him absolutely disgusted me. Seriously, are you KIDDING me?! Some of us are perfectly rational human beings and simply want to meet a favorite athlete to thank them. I don't understand the whole hero-worship thing. Whenever I've met someone famous, my first thought is always about how, oh yeah, they're just a regular person. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. So as excited as I may be, I pretend I don't have butterflies, wipe my sweaty palms on my pants and act like I would around any other human being.
I collect experiences, not autographs. Honestly, autographs mean nothing to me. What do you even do with an autograph? The frame in which my picture was given to me has RA's autograph on it, and I don't think I've thought about it since that day. Even pictures are kind of take-it-or-leave it. They can go missing or be deleted, after all. But I'll always treasure the experience of telling him how much he meant to this Mets fan, and getting to see that he actually is as wonderful in person as you'd expect him to be. Those 15 seconds mean a whole heck of a lot more than a scribble on a piece of paper.
So sure, call me a fan, but let's not be under any delusions as to what that means. I work in sports, I'm a rational person, and I may be a fan of the Mets, but I probably also hate them more than you do.