Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Confessions of a starstruck fan.
By now, most of the fans in our immediate area had pivoted their gaze away from the field of play and onto the celebrity who stood mere feet away behind the concourse railing.
"Holy shit, it is him! And he's throwing t-shirts."
An erratic flock of lime green shirts saturated the chilly night air as the crowd surged and grabbed and caromed off one another. One garment seized on a gust and drifted just above Corey's reach.
Ever the athlete, Corey hastily ushered any fear of pain, humiliation or paralysis to the temporary mini-storage of his consciousness. He leaped high, his ASICS running shoes separating from their sticky, concrete moorings and clutched the floating green booty. Sweet, sweet victory.
Then he toppled over the seats in front of us and landed firmly on his back, wallowing in three periods worth of football stadium filth. He held his prize aloft to spare it the bacterial soup his entire body was occupying.
Thirty seconds later, as my stomach still heaved with spasmic laughter and my eyes still gushed the salty byproducts of hysteria, another t-shirt landed on my shoe. I slowly bent down and scooped it up.
I examined the shirt's graphics: swathes of blue and white slathered the day-glow green cotton fabric, and the only logo present...was that of sandwich juggernaut, Subway.
It was Monday Night Football in Seattle. And the sandwich king himself, Jared, had just thrown us t-shirts.
That's right—that Jared. The Jared who used to wear pants the size of Rush Limbaugh's Dockers until he dropped seven hundred pounds (or so) eating only six-inch whole grain subs with parsley and pepper, and became a massive celebrity.
Well, a celebrity anyway.
It's crazy how crazy we became upon seeing this man. After witnessing the manner in which people reacted to this manufactured icon, thank God most of us were too young to experience Beatlemania.
And to compound the frenzy, we were fed a cocktail more intoxicating than whiskey and Vicodin: famous people and free stuff.
Oh, how the starstruck human can behave.
Occasionally, my enthusiasm is well grounded. When Bill Clinton visited Seattle for one last campaign stop at Pike Place Market prior to the 1992 General Election, I deemed the opportunity too valuable to squander. In typical Clinton fashion, he arrived and hour-and-a-half late, gave a long, rousing oration, and by the time I had waved to his smiling likeness in the departing motorcade and arrived at work, I'd missed half a day.
Was I in trouble? You bet. Did I regret my actions? Not on your blue-dress-staining life.
But then there are instances like the Jared Affair, times when the celebrity tsunami washes away any semblance of rational thought.
Several years ago, while taking my usual lunchtime route to the gym, I passed downtown Seattle's Monaco Hotel. A moderately sized crowd of youngish women and teenagers blocked the sidewalk next to a luxury tour bus.
"What's going on?" I asked someone.
"We're waiting for 'N Sync to come out."
"Really?" I thought. "Hmm. I could hang out for a second to catch a glimpse of these guys up close. No big deal. They're huge right now, and even though I couldn't care less about their music, what harm could it do?"
After ten minutes had passed, I again assessed the situation. "Well, I'll wait a couple more minutes. I can still get in a short workout in and it would be a shame to miss these guys after waiting for this long."
Twenty minutes in, and again I regrouped. "Okay, so I won't be working out today. Whatever. Ten more minutes, though, and then I walk away. This is ridiculous."
After forty-five minutes, I was so hell bent on personally checking out Joey's well-manicured beard, Lance's blue eyes, Justin's curly locks and JC's...(I don't know, nose?) that they would have had to tase me with a Ted Bundy-sized dose of electricity to stop me from seeing 'N Freaking Sync.
Finally, almost an hour after I'd planted myself on that sidewalk among all those hardcore, overwhelmingly female enthusiasts, they emerged together.
I must admit, after waiting for so long, my heart did speed up, if only slightly.
And seriously, the only reason I screamed is because someone stepped on my toe.