I meet him in a coffee shop or supermarket in Denver. Maybe he accidentally gets my order, or we both reach for the same jar of peanut butter. We strike up a conversation. Maybe we both have family in the South. Maybe we like the same kind of music. I do not mention football. I don’t voluntarily watch football. He’s taller and more muscular than anyone else I know. Somehow the conversation turns to hiking, and we agree to go sometime.
“How about Sunday?” I suggest.
“No, I can’t do Sunday, that’s the Superbowl. Wednesday?”
“Ok, I guess I’ll be going to a Superbowl party too. Wednesday’s perfect.”
I have no clue.
We end up making out on our hike. It was inevitable. The friendship was there, but the attraction was too, and combined with the beauty of the Colorado Rockies, we can’t help ourselves. “You’re amazing.” He says, as he holds my normal-sized hand in his enormous one.
“This is so much fun. You treat me like a normal person. I love it.”
“What do you mean? Do people treat you differently because you have man-boobs?”
He gives me a playful shove. “They’re called pecs.”
Then he helps me to my feet and kisses me. He gives me a piggyback ride partway down the mountain, and agrees to come to Happy Hour on Friday.
I first start noticing that something’s up when we’re at the bar. People are extra nice to him. A lot of them seem to know his name already. People keep giving him things: beer, money, underwear.
“Wow, people sure do like to flirt with you! It’s gotta be because you’re so handsome and charming.”
He kisses me, and I feel a bartender’s death-stare pierce my back.
He goes to the bathroom and I’m alone with my friends. “Well, what do you think of him?”
“Why did you not tell us that you went hiking with a Bronco?!”
“I mean, he’s really muscular, but I don’t think describing him as horse is that accurate.”
“No, like the football team! Dude plays football. Professionally. For the Broncos.”
“Oh so that’s why he couldn’t go hiking with me on Sunday.”
“Yeah. Because he was playing football. At the Super Bowl.”
He returns from the bathroom. “I’m gonna get another drink. Do you want anything?”
It’s an age-old love story. Celebrity falls for someone who doesn’t even know who they are, who likes them for their personality and not their championship ring.
Surprisingly, not much changes, now that I know he’s a professional football player. Sure, I get invited to parties with all of the Broncos. Sure, my previously unanswered letters to celebrities turn into coffee dates. And okay, I guess I start watching football.
But all good things must come to an end. I get tired of the attention, and the sports injuries. He grows bored of explaining football to me.
“Couldn’t they make the game shorter?”
“The city of Denver spent how much money building this stadium?”
We end things on good terms. He finds someone who likes football for reasons other than the tight pants. I find someone who never makes me watch football again.
We stay in touch, and grab a beer from time to time. That summer, I’m traveling for work, and I strike up a conversation with the guy next to me on the plane, who is incredibly tall. We hit it off instantly, exchange numbers, and make plans to do a brewery tour. I don’t even realize until after the flight, that he plays for the Denver Nuggets.