Story time, Rookies!
Once upon a time,
I may have scared the crap out of Jermaine Kearse.
I taught at Hudtloff Middle School – the same school that Kearse went to as a kid. Only, I’m too young and adorable to have taught during his time.
(But just barely).
After the ceremony, folks in attendance lined up to meet our celebrity athlete, and get his autograph. I couldn’t help but think, though, that if I’d actually taught him, there’s no way I could ask for an autograph. To have graded his essays, kept him in line in the hallway, made him clean up after himself in the lunchroom … and then ask for an autograph years later? That’s a special kind of humble, and I don’t think I’ve got it.
Well he wasn’t my student, so I could approach him as a fan. I got in line, but my family decided to wait in the car. Only, they’d left a trail of flotsam behind them: coats and cameras and books and I had my purse and –
A woman came along the line, passing out commemorative flyers of the day’s events. “You can get his autograph on it!” she exclaimed.
Oh! Good idea! I mean, I had bought a brand new Hudtloff sweatshirt, just so Kearse could sign it. But, he could sign a few of the flyers for my kids!
I juggled my armloads of stuff, plus death-gripped my new flyers, through the half hour line. The sun beat down, and I was afraid of getting actual sweat on the sweatshirt.
About five people to go …
Suddenly, an official-looking man, not nearly as friendly as the flyer lady, barked at us.
One thing! Jermaine can only sign ONE THING per person!!
Oh. Okay. Obviously the flyers had to go. That’s what the kids got for not standing with me in line. I scrunched them in my sweaty palm, and shifted my bags and camera.
One more person.
I fished out my phone for a selfie.
“Remember, ONE THING!!”
Geez, I got it.
I strode up to the table where Kearse sat, all shaded and with probably pristinely dry palms and pits.
“Hi Jermaine.” I plopped down all my stuff, as to be less crazy-looking (ha!).
Upon seeing my flyer laying on the table, Kearse reached for it, pen poised to sign.
“NOOO!!!” I screamed in his face, yanking the flyer away from him. “Do NOT sign that!! Dear lord! I did not buy this sweatshirt to have you sign that scrap of paper!! Aaarrgghhhh!”
A look of frightened dismay swept across his face. “Oh. I’m sorry … I … Just …”
I pointed to my sweatshirt, acutely aware that a line of people were waiting and watching. “See? I’m a teacher? At Hudtloff?”
“Will you sign my sweatshirt?”
I turned around and squatted in front of him – another awkward indignity – while he signed the back of the shirt.
“They said one thing …” I stumbled, gathering up all of my belongings. “I wanted to make sure … you signed the right thing … And I … Big fan.”
I schlepped my stuff back to the car, thankful Kearse didn’t call security on the screaming bag lady.