ANYWAY. That's not what I'm here to talk about. 'Cause some stuff happened in the last few days that merits the triumphant return of Miracle Monday!
I guess it's a good idea to start at the beginning, right?
This one starts in... February? March? I don't even remember. The beginning was so inconsequential to me because I never thought it would turn into anything, so I didn't bother committing it to memory. But in any case, right around the Miracle on Ice 35th anniversary reunion, my Tumblr friend Emily was lamenting to me about how upset she was that she couldn't go. But I had just stumbled across another event that most of the team was scheduled to appear at -- the National Sports Collectors Convention, in Chicago -- so I sent her the link. She started making plans to go, but it didn't really cross my mind much after that. I'd already done my fair share of flying around the country for Miracle on Ice things, and didn't feel any pressing need to do it again so soon. At the beginning of July, Emily texted me that she was definitely going to it, and I was SO HAPPY FOR HER. Like, hysterically-laughing-in-the-middle-of-Walmart happy for her. But still, didn't really think much else about it.
That is, until two weeks later. I very randomly decided to check out the show's lineup again, and noticed something very important: Mark Pavelich was going to be there.
Quick context, in case you're new here:
1. Pav is literally known for being reclusive and quiet and not attending public events. Before this year I didn't even know what he looked like, because the most recent pictures of him were from his NHL days back in the '80s. He doesn't do interviews (so I'd never heard his voice before), he doesn't go to things... nothing. So Pav committing to an event like this was a Big Deal. Somewhat miraculous, if you will. (Hah.)
2. Pav is my favorite. Favorite athlete, favorite famous person, favorite human being... pick one and he's it.
So immediately upon seeing his name on the "attending" list, my hands got clammy, my heart started racing and I felt like I was going to throw up. Meeting Pav was one of those bucket list items that I never physically put on my bucket list because I never ever in my life believed that it would happen. But suddenly, he would be attending an event that I could afford to go to, and it was several days after the Pan Ams ended. And with all the hours I'd worked (and all the overtime I made), I could stand to miss a day or two of work for it. And he'd be signing autographs late in the day on the 31st, so I could even fly in that morning and miss even less work. (Really, it was all a little too perfect.)
Within a few days, I was sending Emily a text: "Guess who's coming to Chicago!"
The next two weeks passed in a haze of endless hours of work and thoughts of "I just need to survive this so I can go to Chicago." I was pretty perpetually anxious for awhile, though a bright spot was getting my autograph and photo opp tickets in the mail.
You're damn right I'm #1 for Mark Pavelich.
In the meantime... blah blah blah, work work work, blah blah blah... and then suddenly I was walking into a convention center in Rosemont, Illinois and hugging someone I'd previously only known online like we'd been friends for a decade.
Emily and her dad had been there all day and she'd already gotten to meet John Harrington, Mike Ramsey and Phil Verchota. I was, y'know, dying a little bit about that. She was also going to be meeting Pav, plus Mark Johnson and Buzz Schneider. Pav and Buzz were signing autographs last, at 4:30. By the time I arrived it was around 2:30, and Mark was signing at 3:15, so we hung around for awhile before she got to meet him. This was also when I discovered that, despite not having tickets, I was allowed to stand in line with her. So when she was meeting Mark and getting his autograph, I was standing right behind her and grinning really big. (Note: this becomes an important plot point later. Not the grinning, the standing in line.)
Then it was back to gossiping and fangirling and just generally amusing ourselves for another hour or so. There was a lot of freaking out, and feeling like we were going to throw up, and giggling, especially at this:
And then Buzz and Pav were brought out for photo opps and holy crap. While Emily got her photo with Buzz, I steeled myself to say something
When Emily was done with Buzz, it was my turn, and I awkwardly sidled up to Pav.
He looked at me. "Hi." (PLEASE NOTE: this was the first time I'd ever heard his voice. When he said hi to me. TO ME. PERSONALLY. I'm never getting over it.)
I somehow mustered the brainpower to say "hi" back, and then he put his arm around me (!!!!!) and we took a picture together.
Before I walked away, I turned to him. "I like your glasses!"
He looked at me. "What?"
(LOL, I wouldn't have been expecting that either.) "I like your glasses!"
"Oh, thank you!"
And then I scuttled away and waited for Emily to take her picture with him before FREAKING OUT WITH HER a little bit. Because what else are you supposed to do when you meet your favorite person?!
Next came the autograph lines. We decided that we wanted to try and be close to last to meet Pav (so we could try and idle with him for a bit without backing up a whole ton of people), so we hopped into Buzz's line first so Emily could get her autograph. If you're new around these parts, I freaking adore Buzz. I named my car after him and met him once before (and he remembered me!!!), so Emily was basically like "COME SAY HI TO BUZZ WITH ME!!!!" So, y'know, who am I to turn down an offer like that? We waited in line together, and again I stood off to the side while Emily got her autograph, and when she was done she stepped aside so I could have my moment. (Guys, this is the realest friendship.)
I don't even really remember what I said. I was just trying to get my words out as fast as I could (because this was time I hadn't paid for), but it was basically "I'm the one who named my car after you and I just wanted to say hi!"
He burst out laughing (!!!!!) and said, "I remember! Good to see you again!" And he held out his hand, and I shook it (he gives a great handshake, FYI), and then I skipped away, wondering if ever there'll be a time I interact with Buzz Schneider that doesn't leave me a giggling pile of mush. (But for real, my presence makes him light up like a Christmas tree and I think that's the best thing I've ever accomplished in my life. Full stop.)
And THEN there was some more waiting before we got in line for Pav's autograph. Emily and I were both wearing Pavelich jerseys, and as we were standing around we were approached by two older men who commented on them. We got to talking, and they said they'd been coming to these conventions for years and that Pav had committed to come twice before and canceled both times. So we were all in agreement that him actually being there was huge, and I mentioned that I flew there from Colorado just to meet him. They seemed really impressed and didn't walk away before expressing their respect for us. (Actual life goals: only wear the jerseys of athletes that make other people respect you.)
Once we finally got in line, I felt a little less barf-y and was actually pretty confident when it was my turn. I handed my tickets to the "handler" sitting next to Pav, and picked what color marker I wanted him to sign with. (Blue. Which, the handler pointed out, was appropriate for signing a picture of him playing for the Rangers.) So Pav started signing his name, and I had to awkwardly pipe up and mention that I also get an inscription. (Seriously, why was that my job? Isn't the handler supposed to be in charge of that?)
I said that just "to Darci" would be great, and then Pav goes, "How do you spell that?"
PAUSE. I've met my fair share of famous people, and gotten my fair share of autographs, and I can't remember a single time that anyone asked me how to spell my name. I always have to jump in and specify how to spell it correctly, but Pav proactively asked about it before I could even do that. :')
So I told him how to spell my name, and then he deliberated for a little while before scrawling something else. And when he was finished, I had to seize my chance again.
"I just wanted to tell you that, as someone who's both short and quiet myself, you've been a really big inspiration for me and it's a huge honor to meet you."
He looked kind of taken aback. "Oh, well, thank you!"
LOL, I don't think he knew what to do with me. He probably thinks I'm really weird. But that's fine, because I think he's weird too. (Don't worry Pav, I just had to carpe diem this one time. I don't have to bother you ever again, I promise. I'll just keep coming to these things to hang out with my BFF Buzz.)
So it was all fine and dandy, until I decided to look down at the autograph he'd given me.
...I have no idea what it says.
Neither Emily nor her dad could figure it out either. The guys at the authentication booth put "play hockey" in the official records, but I've also gotten "play to win" and "pleased to meet you" and a number of other things. (My mom said it looked like "play dumb" or "please don't." LOL, thanks mom.) I just think it's absolutely hilarious that Pav finally attends a meet-and-greet, interacts with people, takes a picture with me, signs an autograph... and still manages to remain a complete mystery. THAT is a talent. An incredibly infuriating talent.
I was, however, very pleased that he didn't look miserable. I was kind of concerned that he'd hate the whole thing (because, come on, a reclusive type at a meet-and-greet? This is the exact opposite of his scene), and while he did look awkward and out of his element, he was smiling and interacting with people. So even if he signed me an autograph that's the written equivalent of a mumble, I think it's perfect and I'm completely thrilled with everything. :)
After we were finished, we walked around the convention center for a bit and stopped at a few booths. But we were all pretty exhausted and it wasn't long before we found a spot on the floor to sit and rest for a few minutes. And geek out a little bit more. Or a lot more. Y'know, whatever.
And, uh, that was it. Those three hours were the entire purpose of my trip. I met Pav, made Buzz laugh again, and turned an Internet friend into a real-life friend. Win, win aaaand win!
Look at this, I just made up for three weeks worth of missed posts in one fell swoop. HA. I guess I'll be back tomorrow to recap the rest of my trip (a grand total of about 20 hours), because this is plenty long enough. I'd apologize, but... I'm not even sorry.