Hi, I’m Josh and I’m an idiot.
The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
Well, I’ve been an idiot about Kentucky basketball for as long as I can remember. I have embarrassed myself in countless ways in front of U of K ballplayers since I was a young’n. Whether it was following any number of them around Fayette Mall numerous times, calling the number that was on Rex Chapman’s IROC In The Lodge parking lot that said, “for sale by owner” and pretending to be in the market just so I could hear Rex’s voice (the King smelled me out as an idiot fan quickly and hung up on me) or, when in high school, a group of us went and sang Christmas carols at The Lodge in September just to lay eyes on the Cats ( John Pelphrey and Derron Feldhaus came out in robes and were nice enough to let us finish our horrendous rendition of “Jingle Bells” before rolling their eyes and heading back in. True story.)
The point is, one would figure or at least hope, that I might grow out of such undignified behavior as I have moved into my 40s. But I must not know the next eleven steps, because I’m still an idiot for The Cats, which brings me to this picture I had made with John Wall last Wednesday night.
I had just returned from a pretty good work out and was laying on my bed reading emails and catching up on KSR (true story) when I realized that there was nothing in the house to eat. Too tired to shower, I threw on some gym shorts and a tee shirt, grabbed my wallet and phone and headed to the car. My dog Max saw me stirring and gave me the desperate look of, “Can I go?” It was just a ride to the supermarket but my dog likes the simple things and knowing that getting out of the house would make him happy, I whistled Max over as he enthusiastically jumped up and met me at the door of my garage.
Just down the hill, I arrived at the grocery story at about 7:30 pm and the weather being cool I rolled my four windows down half way (a safety tip for all of the young KSR readers) and told Max I’d be right back. I walked the aisles, grabbing some healthy food and more not so healthy snacks to munch on as I watched the Olympics later and thought the trip would be of the usual variety. But then, while at the check out I received this text from my buddy, Brett who tends bar at a nearby restaurant called The Local Peasant.
“John Wall just walked into Peasant”
The world stopped. Of course Brett knew to text me right away, as would all my friends or even distant acquaintances. They all know my condition and to be fair, they could be called enablers. But the true test of a friend is what lengths he will go to make his friend happy, and that text from Brett spelled infinite happiness,
I immediately threw all my groceries to the ground and sped off to The Local Peasant, making the ten minute trek with such ferocity that even Little E would have been proud. I arrived to find the usual LA reality of no available parking spot, so after a manic ten minutes of searching I decided that law breaking was in order. John Wall is not this close very often, so I chose to park near the restaurant on a street that required special neighborhood placquereds. I locked the doors, cracked the windows (safety first) and told poor Max I’d be back.
I bust through the door trying not to look as excited and anxious as I did singing to Pelphrey and Feldhaus. Honestly, seeing John Wall would be the highlight of my day, or week, but he didn’t need to know this. I saw my buddy Brett at the bar and when I walked up he was giggling and said, “I’m surprised it took you that long.”
I tried to ignore his patronizing comment, and asked “parking troubles, now where is he?”
Brett’s grinning eyes motioned behind me and there, twenty feet away, eating dinner was John Wall. My John Wall. Our John Wall. Just sitting there eating dinner with a friend, much the way you or I might eat dinner. Except John Wall was doing it way cooler. It was awesome.
I ordered a beer and planned my strategy of attack. I wanted a picture. A picture that would document to all that on this day, the first day of August, in the year of our lord twenty hundred and twelve, the lightning quick former basketball point guard of our beloved Cats and I broke bread at the same establishment. I knew he was in the middle of his dinner and I didn’t want to be so rude as to interrupt him, so I decided my best strategy would be to wait him out.
I chatted up Brett and watched some Olympics at the bar, ever aware of Number 11’s presence. I could not let him sneak out without me seeing him, and thus we had to cover all flanks. After about twenty minutes, I remembered that yes, I had a dog in the car and I told Brett to watch him and not let him escape while I was gone. I took a very indirect path to the front door, one that (surprise!) took me right by John’s table. As I passed he happened to look up and make eye contact so I seized the moment and used my highly trained acting skills for their most important role.
I looked up non-chanlantly and said, “Hey, John Wall! My favorite player! Cool.” (acting.)
He smiled and I asked if I could get a quick picture when he was finished with dinner. He agreed and out the front door I went.
Awesome! I totally pulled that off! I didn’t seem like a desperately pathetic 41 year old creepily following around/stalking a 21 year old basketball player that I didn’t know. Nope, I used my ACTING to make it seem as if I was surprised to see him. I ACTED as if I wasn’t creepy and he was none the wiser. Elated, I walked to the car to find Max comfy and cozy napping in the back. I assured him I was around and all was well and…Damn! What?! Sixty seven dollars?!! For one parking ticket? Sixty Seven bucks?!! That’s all? That’s all they were charging me to get a chance to get a pic with the fastest point guard in the history of totally awesome people ever?!!! Well, the jokes on you City of Los Angeles Parking Enforcement because that was nothing compared to my chance to meet my basketball hero. Deterrence? Whatever.
I walked back to the bar the same meandering route in which I had exited, but this time when I passed John Wall’s table I got cocky. I didn’t even look down at him. BAM! ACTING as if it is no big deal. That’s what is called a power move and I was feeling pretty good as I arrived back to the bar.
I sat, knowing that my eyes were locked on him but still somehow nervous I would miss his exit. That’s when I think I started creeping him out. He looked up in my direction at a few points and I’m pretty sure he cought me staring at him every time. I would try and look away super fast but lets be honest. I had no chance against the cat quick reflexes that are sported by the fastest, quickest, freshest, most awesomeness point guard ever on earth. He was sniffing me out so I had to devise a different, more chill plan. I got Brett to keep watch over him (that’s what friends are for) and when the moment arrived of possible movement, he would give me a secret signal. Brilliant! I’d have eyes on him and I could still ACT as if I wasn’t that excited. Score!
Then irony played her subtle hand as two ladies came and asked to have their picture with me. With me? Umm, you know The John Wall is right over there, right? Whatever, your loss. I agreed and then I thought how cool it would be if John Wall saw me getting my picture taken and then maybe he’d think I was cool. Then he might say, “hey, you are cool let’s be best friends” and then he’d call me when he was in LA and say stuff like “hey, Hop (he’d call me that) lets go shoot around and then go out to a club and dougie and stuff”,
And I’d be like, ” Cool, I think my schedule’s open Jimmy Wall (I’d call him that)” and then it’d be awesome.
Alas, as I got my picture snapped with the women and he didn’t even notice. Oh well. Finally, after a wait that seemed to never end, I saw he was signing his bill. I got my camera phone ready flash on, no video. Here we go. Let’s roll. I tried to ACT as if we just happened to meet at the door exiting at the same time, but I think at this point, the jig was up. I was officially creepy old, freak fan but I was proud I had done so well up until then. Does he know how hard it was for me to sit there that long while he ate (he didn’t have to order dessert). I asked for the picture and not surprisingly, John Wall couldn’t have been nicer. He thanked me, shook my hand and was on his way. Best…day…ever.
On another note, no I didn’t get a championship ring. Those of you that have tweeted saying I should have gotten one before Drake, thanks you but you are wrong. Drake is one of the hottest rappers around. If he mentions Kentucky in one hit song young ball players all over the world will hear it. It’s genius branding. Sadly, there’s not one high school baller on earth that would care if some guy on that Cougar show got a UK ring. Doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop representing with the rest of the BBN. Plus, I’ve got a pretty swell picture.