Saturday afternoon last week, I drove up the hill to a nearby Safeway. A bus with a "12" was parked in the lot. As I entered the store I heard pounding drums, like a high school pep rally or maybe a group of angry natives (not that there's much difference). One of the Seattle Seahawks football players was there at the store, high-fiving checkout clerks, tossing a ball back and forth with employees, and posing for pictures.
Unlike most eyes in the store, mine were not directed at this player, no matter how much he stood out like Mt. Rainier among the Cascade foothills. No, I had eyes only for five of the people in his entourage… None were tall, but all were young. And gorgeous. And blonde. The Seahawks cheerleading squad has a lot of diversity, as I verified later online. But only the blondes were at my neighborhood Safeway that day. And these girls were really blonde, as if they were from an alien race of Nordic beauty queens.
(Was it a message from the universe, perhaps? Such as I'm going to meet the next Marilyn Monroe?)
I noticed these cheerleaders weren't making eye contact with any of us mere mortals. They therefore seemed unapproachable. After all, weren't they out of my and everyone else's league? Their league, I reminded myself, was the N.F.L…
That's N.F.L., as in National Forget-about-it League, or maybe the No F*cking-way League.
But fifteen minutes later, after I'd purchased my groceries, I saw the last of the entourage as everything was winding down on the far side of the bus… the tall player was talking to the store manager, and two of the cheerleaders were standing there quietly. I said to myself, "Oh well, when will I get this chance again?" I put down my bags, and even though I was wearing an old shirt which should've been thrown out years ago, and I hadn't shaved or brushed, I ambled over to the two young ladies.
I opened with the cheesiest, dumbest line there was. "Excuse me, you two aren't cheerleaders for the Seahawks, are you?"
To my surprise, they responded not with scowls but with smiles that did not stop. I followed up one question with another, and they quickly turned to me and gave me their undivided attention. It mattered not that the 6 foot 10 football player was standing a few feet away. They were all mine for a couple of minutes and gave me the intoxicating impression they were eating out of my hand.
That was the amazing thing. I must have been a mess; they were immaculate in their cute little Seahawks uniforms and perfectly made-up hair. But they acted like they were flattered to meet me.
Who knows? Maybe they were just happy that someone was finally giving them attention instead of giving it all to the football player. Or maybe they were happy they'd recently made the squad. All I know is that after talking to them for a couple of minutes, I decided this was one of the best days I'd had in a very long time.
And so, if any N.F.L. cheerleader should happen to read this, I'm still here. But even if you're not a cheerleader, even if you're not blonde, if you can smile at me from ear to ear, if you can act delighted to be in my presence and seem like you're flattered I'd notice you, if you can –whether or not you're actually beautiful–at least act like you are, then maybe you'd like to talk to me as well.