Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Big Jenk and Ben

The plan was to write something of substance today. I wallowed in Grey's A and football for a couple days, and it was time to start thinking about something that mattered again. Then, at 12:30, 335 lbs of substance walked into my life.

Odd Encounter of the Week: Kris Jenkins

A little backstory: I have a Carolina Panthers problem. I really really like them. I was a founding member of the 5-person "Panther Nation" (complete with screen name, website, and pledge of allegiance). I have a gameday uniform composed of Panthers sleep pants, socks, t-shirt, hat that looks like a real panther head, and Growl Towel. I used to unintentionally wake my suitemates up on Sunday morning, growling as I headed out the door to church.

So today, I'm shelving books in the Interior Design section when I look over and a large football-player-shaped man is hanging out in World History. I examine his face and, lo and behold, it's Kris Jenkins, the 6'4" 335 lb starting defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers.

I immediately become nervous. I HAVE to talk to him. He's in my store! But what do I say? And can I shake his hand? Should I talk about the game or does he get tired of that? How do I make him think I'm cool and not just a groupie?

I spill some of my nervous energy out onto my co-workers. Unfortunately, everyone on the clock with me at 12:30 is a woman. Not to play off stereotypes but a lot of women don't like football. These don't either. And they sure don't know who Kris Jenkins is. I tell them all about him and how I want to talk to him.

They say I am blushing.

Anyways, I finally work up the nerve to approach him under the cover of work. "Sir, can I help you find anything?" I ask in as professional a voice as I could muster.

And then the moment came. . . . he says Yes!

Ahem, I mean, uh, I help him find the book he was looking for like any good bookseller would do. Man, I am nervous though. I want to act normally, but how can I be normal when I am in a conversation with Kris Jenkins, the guy whose picture was my computer background all summer as I longed for my Panthers while listening to nothing but Red Sox and Patriot gibberish?

He is looking for Sun Tzu's The Art of War on the computer search engine. Of course he's looking for such a book! So he can further pummeled the stripes right out of the Bengals' offensive line next week!!! I attempt to help, but he's so big that I can't get close enough to the computer to do anything without bumping into him.

Later at the shelves when I'm helping him find which translation would be right for him, one of my co-worker confidants comes up with a Panthers calendar and asks him to autograph it. He awkwardly hesitates, as I had played it cool up to this point - except for my nervously shaky voice. The whole time he has been just Average Joe, all 335 lbs of him. Then she tells him it's for me, that I'm a big fan.

@#$%, my cover is blown. No way he thinks I'm cool now.

But Ben, he never thought you were cool. He 6'4" and plays in the NFL. Your 5'11" and shelve books.

Oh, yeah.

As he's heading to the cash register to pay, I decide to show off my football prowess, offering the keen analysis, "By the way, ya'll played a great game Sunday. Take care."

"Thanks, take it easy man."

Then he smiled at me. I was giddy the rest of the day.

I could go on all night, but that's enough. Besides, I have a calendar I have to go hang on my wall.

6 comments:

maruf hadi said...

hi,greeting from kuwait,nice post bro

Jenn Pappa said...

awww little ben has a crush... seriously great story, very well written and i'm glad you got your autograph.

heroes are a good thing

Alex said...

dude, i'm jealous--at least you had reason to talk to him. all my celebrity sightings in the chapel hill/durham area (marion jones, the UNC men's basketball players, the chic-fil-a cows) are all at the southpointe mall and i can never figure out how to angle my way into a conversation with the people.

great post as usual, hope to see you sometime soon.

KaTiE said...

That is so AWESOME! I am very jealous! I had a guy come into Starbucks every Sunday night this summer up to mid-August. We had Panther talks and a countdown until he didn't show up anymore. Two weeks later he was on tv beside Coach Fox...and he is a defensive coach. If I had known who he was, I'm sure there would have been some slurring of the words and more pressure in making his drinks right. Congratulations on getting an autographed calendar! yay for Panther sitings!

Em the luddite said...

My famous brush with sports fame was when I shared an elevator ride complete with conversation with Matt Doherty my freshman year, having no idea that he was anyone notable. When the other girl on the elevator (who was shocked that I had the nerve to talk to him) exclaimed to the class that we were just on the elevator with Matt Doherty, I still didn't know who he was and promptly forgot his name.

I suppose your story is more fun.

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