It's not youse, it's me
While I don’t possess “the sort of mind that can bend spoons,” I do wield some incredible powers of attraction. Or, at least I did this past week when I manifested Shane Victorino to appear at dinner last night.
My story began on Sunday. I spent the majority of the day doing work for my job (#startuplife) and finished up around 9 o’clock. Afterward, I started searching online for a Victorino Phillies shirt.
I have a Vic jersey and shirt in blue, but I always wanted one in red. And I wasn’t going to let a little thing like him being off the team for a year and a half change that. He was my favorite player, and I wanted what I wanted.
So, I found and ordered one off eBay. (From a store owner who probably never anticipated selling one two years after his trade.) I sent out this tweet:
While I waited for its delivery, I spent the week thinking about Shane’s time with the Phils: his rise through the organization, his first World Series win in ’08, his trip to the All-Star Game in ’09. Everything leading up to his July 2012 departure from the Phillies.
It had been a busy end of the week for me, filled with a work event and three separate appointments. By 8:30 p.m. on Friday, I was rushing to the train station to head into the city with my boyfriend, Nick, for dinner.
We headed into the restaurant* and were soon seated. But not before spotting a Phillies hat encased in glass and marked with “Victorino.”
“Oh yeah,” began Nick. “I never asked about your tweet – why did you order his shirt this week?”
I launched into a familiar “because I love Victorino” speech that included his passion and dedication to his fans, this team and our city.
I have a handful of good Victorino stories based on others who have met him. My favorite one involves my cousin and her friend when they were in grade school. They attended a local signing during the 2008 playoffs. Shane took a seat at a table while fans waited in line to get his autograph. When it was their turn in line, my cousin and her friend excitedly screamed, “We love the Flyin’ Hawaiian!”
“You do, huh?” Victorino asked. He stood up, grabbed two of the decorative hula skirts hanging on the wall behind him and gave one to each girl. How could you not love this guy?
We were led to a table off the main walkway, and our waiter approached and introduced himself. He was a cordial guy, who made quick cracks about Matt Damon and the Green Bay Packers as he took down our orders.
We had been there for about 10 minutes, sipping our drinks and eating bread. The waiter reappeared to make room for our entrees. Before leaving, he announced, “And yes, if you were wondering, that was Shane Victorino who just walked by.”
I hadn’t noticed. And I didn’t think he was telling the truth.
“Can you believe Victorino’s here?” Nick calmly remarked, breaking apart a piece of thin, crispy bread.
“Wait. Do you think he was serious?” I asked.
I grabbed my drink. I wanted to believe it, but I couldn’t separate fact from fiction with our jokey waiter. I put down my glass and pulled out my phone to search Twitter – my trusted source of information – for clues. Shane’s Twitter hadn’t been updated for 12 hours, and there was no recent mention of stopping by Philly.
“Yeah, of course!” Nick laughed. I gulped my drink.
Well, I thought. The waiter said he walked by, and the door is off to the right. He probably walked right by and left the restaurant. Yep. That’s what it was. Whether it was really him or not, that person is gone now.
A few minutes passed and our waiter checked up on us. “She doesn’t believe you about Victorino,” Nick said.
“Oh, yes. He’s really here,” he replied matter-of-factly. “With 17 of his closest friends.”
I chuckled nervously. Our waiter said he still frequented the area and checked up on his charities. That made sense. Shane had spent a lot of time in Philadelphia and created roots here. It was also the offseason.
No sooner than a minute after our waiter walked away, Victorino walked by our table. Nick’s back was turned to him.
“Oh my God,” I said. “It’s him. He is here!”
The restaurant was crowded, even as closing time neared. He walked by discreetly, unassuming and dressed in a hoodie. Did anyone else know it was him?
I spent the rest of the meal partly out of body. Eating slowly, ordering a second glass of chardonnay and finishing every last bit of crème brûlée, I plotted my next move.
I wanted to go over to his table. I needed to go over. But the last thing I wanted to do was cause a scene.
I wrestled over what to do. I started texting and going over possible scenarios with Nick. He told me I was over-thinking it, which I knew I was, but I wanted to be careful. And respectful. I didn’t want to be “that” person.
Finally, Nick said, “I can’t believe you’re going to let your self-righteousness get in the way of meeting someone you really like.” And that’s pretty much all it took.
“OK,” I said. “I’m going to go over.”
Nick got up to use the bathroom. I scanned the restaurant, which had emptied out a little more. I looked toward the adjoining room where I watched Victorino walk in during dinner. Despite glancing over many times throughout the night, I couldn’t see him.
Confirmation: I wanted it. Before making my way over, I wanted to know what an employee thought. If he frequented this place often like our waiter mentioned, I wanted to get an idea of how he’d react to a fan encounter.
I watched the waitstaff clean up tables, timidly waiting for a moment to grab someone’s attention. Then an older woman stopped a waiter to ask where the restroom was. He escorted her past my table, and then walked back. My chance! I called him over.
“Excuse me, I watched Shane Victorino walk into that room earlier…” I pointed to the left. “Oh, yeah,” he nodded.
“Do you think it would be OK if I walked over to say hi?”
“Sure!” he said, like it was no big deal. He backpeddled and glanced into the connected seating area.
He walked back over. “You didn’t hear it from me, but it looks like he’s sitting in the back to the left.”
“The back to the left?” I repeated.
“The back to the left,” he reassured me. He smiled and swiftly walked away.
Before I knew it, I got up, walked through the doors and began walking in between groups of diners. I scanned the patrons on the left until my eyes fell on the last guy seated at a long table. It was Victorino.
He caught my glance and looked back toward his table. OK, I thought, I will pop over, say hello and leave just as quickly.
I touched the two-time World Series winner’s back and walked to his right. I didn’t say my name. I didn’t ask for a picture. I just stuck out my hand and watched as he shook mine.
“I wanted to say hi, and that it is so crazy to see you here. I just ordered your Phillies shirt this week.”
His friend chimed in, “You just ordered his shirt? You’re a little late, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” Victorino added. “C’mon, man!” They playfully laughed and I laughed back.
“But I needed a red Victorino shirt! I have another shirt and jersey in blue.” I reasoned.
“OK,” Victorino agreed.
I noticed a few leftover diners start to look our way. Before taking off, I thanked him for loving our city (oh, God) and coming back to visit. I put my hand out a second time and shook his hand once more.
I walked back to my table, legs shaking and giggling uncontrollably. Nick started asking for details. “We just need to leave first!” I said, trying to catch my breath.
We walked outside. I breathed deeply and started to explain how the situation unfolded. Then a wave of emotion came over me, and I began to cry instead.
Between choppy breaths and trying to recount the situation, Nick laughed and commented how “awful” he felt holding my arm while passersby stared at him like he was the cause of my tears.
Who knew a quick, “Hi, thank you, bye!” could be so overwhelming?
Thank you, universe; thank you, Nick; thank you, amazing waiters; and thank you, Shane Victorino, for making this young lady’s day. Sincerely, Forever a fan.
Find me at https://twitter.com/IDHYPhilly
* I decided to remove the name of the restaurant. I want to protect the waiters who helped make my night, just in case.