You get to a certain point in your life when you’ve lived in NYC and San Francisco and attended ComicCons, and you meet celebrities, and it’s pretty cool and all, but there’s a thing about meeting actors: they’re really not the people you want to meet. I wanted to meet Spike; I met James Marsters. Which is pretty fantastic. But he’s not ACTUALLY Spike. (I mostly understand that. Mostly.)
But last year, when I went to see Labyrinth with my friends and Brian Henson was there… well, I kind of lost it a little. Because he’s kind of an actor, but he’s also a creator of puppets, and even more important to me, he’s Jim Henson’s son, and Jim Henson was always someone for whom I’d weep if I’d had a chance to meet him. Another person like him? Mr. Rogers. And Judy Blume. These are people whose affect in my life has been far-reaching, deep, shaped me as a person.
I didn’t realize, until tonight, that a professional athlete was also in those ranks. Me, the anti-athlete, who spent most of her life not getting football, but still singing along with the Steelers Polka, apparently had a childhood icon in Franco Harris.
We’ve already established that the Steelers loomed large in my life. But Franco Harris, especially: he of the Immaculate Reception, he of the Steelers jersey I inherited from my dad (the one my mom shrunk in the wash, which means it’s actually form-fitting and cute on me); he of many Pittsburgh legends; apparently, he was also one of my childhood icons, and I didn’t find this out until I was sitting at the bar of Gullifty’s, and the bartender said, “So Franco Harris just walked in.”
“You’re joking,” I said, three or fifteen times. I went around the corner, and there he was; and then I walked back around the corner and steadied myself, much to the amusement of a waitress. What do I do? I thought. It’s 2012, so, of course! I called my dad.
Only he’s at a board meeting tonight. He’s still there. He doesn’t know how close he came to having a conversation with Franco Harris.
Plan B: I got a napkin and approached him, and apologized for the interruption, and I’ll be damned but he introduced himself to me, as though I didn’t already know who he was–and I’m sure at this point he saw me CRYING, yes, I had tears in my drippy, silly eyes, folks, and that’s when I realized how much Franco Harris meant to me–but he graciously signed the napkin and asked about my dad, and I told him about his 36 years of season tickets, and the woman he was with thought me wearing my dad’s shrunken jersey was hilarious, and I said I’d just moved back to Pittsburgh, and we talked about San Francisco and Stockton declaring bankruptcy, and then I thanked him for his time again, and then Franco Harris shook my hand again and said, “Welcome home! You made my night.”
Hear that, folks? You made my night. I made Franco Harris’ night. That’s the way it’s done, famous people: you made my night.
And good lord, this is a terrible picture of me, and it’s all blurry, but I wasn’t about to ask her for a second one. Besides: he’s still a handsome devil, and that’s what matters.
P.S. My brother is, to say the least, miffed that I’ve been here three months and met a god of Pittsburgh football. All I can say is: nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!