I had just arrived to work yesterday and was loitering around Barb’s desk like I’m wont to do until it’s officially my start time, because god forbid I should be in my office-thing prior to 1:30 and have to answer the phone or something. While I was standing there, an office-wide email went out announcing that one of the Pittsburgh Penguins had arrived at the Firm to deliver the season tickets and have his picture taken with the winner of last week’s raffle, which I didn’t enter because it required me to have to leave my department and venture onto another floor alone, and we all know how awful I am at that. I’m a firm believer in the Buddy System.
The email went on to say that if anyone wanted to check out a Penguin in the flesh, just mosey on up to the reception area on the 28th floor. Maybe you know that I’m a pretty big hockey fanatic. I scarred Chooch for life when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and I was holding him and screaming and he was CRYING. I mean, CRYING HIS STUPID THREE-YEAR-OLD HEAD OFF. He was like, “Put me down, Crazy Lady!” and has hated hockey ever since.
“Do you want to go?” Barb asked, and I was like, “Um, if I don’t have to go alone, then yes!” So I was running back to my office-thing to get my badge-thing, when Amber2 and Girl-Chris (she’s new and likes weird fruit and owls and My Chemical Romance and has gone to Warped Tour and she feeds me, so we’re basically best work-sisters now) were all, “Hey, do you want to go up with us to see who it is?” And that is how we wound up with a real life stalking posse.
I was so frantic about this though that first I almost forgot to grab my phone and THEN I almost fell when I was running around the corner because my shoe was untied. Barb made me tie it in the elevator.
To get to the 28th floor, we have to take the elevator down to the lobby and go to a different elevator bank on the other side of the building. As we were walking over to that side, we saw some old broad holding her phone up to take a picture. We entered the elevator bank JUST IN TIME TO SEE ONE OF THE ELEVATOR DOORS CLOSING ON MOTHERFUCKING JAMES “ERIN’S PROM DATE” NEAL OMFG. We were joking on the way down that they were probably going to send a 4th liner, and Amber2, who loves James as much as me, jokingly wished for it to be James Neal. And then we laughed because why would James Neal want to come to a law firm. BUT THANK YOU AMBER FOR WISHING IT TRUE!!
So we get into another elevator and proceed to freak out while some random woman stood in the corner trying to pretend she didn’t think we were idiots. When we arrived at reception, I was bracing myself to have to elbow-chop my way though a throng of excited law firm workers, but there were like, 10 of us. When we walked in, James was on the upper level with his cameraman in tow, getting ready to be escorted to a private room somewhere down the hall.
I sent this picture to Henry and he was like, “Nice. Who is it?”
“PROM DATE!!!” I replied, and he was all, “lol.”
It wasn’t the best photo-op, but it was better than nothing! I haven’t been that close to a real life hockey player since 1992! I figured we were going to go back to work after that, but Barb shouted, “Well, he has to come back out sometime!” So we hung around for a few minutes while Barb made us look at these disgusting spiders hanging outside the window and then tried to make up some story about why they like the 28th floor, but thank god JAMES NEAL came back and saved us from Barb’s Nature Hour! We all clapped for him and he smiled and waved and we prepared for him to walk down the steps to our level but sonofabitch if he wasn’t escorted to the elevators on that level.
Barb started running. “Maybe we can get on the same elevator!” she gasped, jabbing at the down button. The door started to open and we all held our breath. But it was empty. I was kind of relieved because I’m not sure I could handle being on an ELEVATOR with the guy. Elevators are pretty much in my Top 5 Most Awkward Locations.
Barb tried one more time before conceding. “They probably have one of those keys so that the elevator will just go all the way down without stopping,” she said, and we all stepped into the empty elevator, accepting that our brush with greatness was just that: a tiny, brief brush from a distance.
The elevator spilled us out into the lobby and there he was, just about to leave through the revolving doors with his cameraman, surrounded by NO ONE. The four us just stood there in a huddle next to the security desk, giggling and acting like basic puck bunnies, which is really so not like me! I love hockey terribly, but I am not the type of person to stalk the players after a game. But it was JAMES NEAL and he is so great, you guys. Just so goddamn great. (And his face is pretty goddamn great too, OMFG.)
I guess his stalker senses began to prickle, because he turned around right before leaving and made eye contact with all of us. Good lord, I can only imagine what we must have looked like to him. A bunch of cats in heat, is my guess.
He smiled at us and I vaguely remember kind of waving back. IT’S ALL A BLUR, OK?
“Do you want a picture?” he asked, and then slowly and cautiously approached us. I don’t know where I got the balls to be the first one to step forward, I think I was operating on pure hockey adrenaline at that point, but then I just stood there in front of him, holding up my phone, forgetting how to even use it.
“Do YOU want to be in the picture?” he asked and I stupidly said, “Oh. OK.” So Girl-Chris tool this picture of me forgetting how to stand next to another human being:
This photo makes me look like I’ve lost zero pounds since January but I don’t even care because JAMES NEAL. I really need to learn how to stand.
I remember instantly perspiring the moment he placed his hand on my back and almost blurting out: I TWEET ABOUT YOU BEING MY PROM DATE LIKE ALL OF THE TIME!!! But to myself I was saying, “Just keep your fucking mouth shut. DON’T RUIN THIS MOMENT WITH YOUR UNINTELLIBLE WORDS.”
It was the longest MOST ROMANTIC 5 seconds of my life, after which I slid into the background and proceeded to have full-body shakes while Amber2 and Girl-Chris had their turns (Barb politely declined the photo op and said she was happy just watching us completely unravel into a giggly puddle of estrogen and pheromones). Then one of our other co-workers walked into the lobby on her way back from getting lunch and was all, “What’s going on? I want in on this, too” and then made me hold her half-eaten foil-wrapped burger while she jumped in for a picture. Yes please, let’s add to Erin’s awkwardness by forcing her to hold a hot clump of meat far away from her body like it’s a bomb.
My face probably bore a striking resemblance to that mound of beef in my hand: one blushing, sebaceous hot mess.
I can’t even remember going back to our floor after that. HOW DID WE GET BACK UP THERE?!
Those ten minutes pretty much rendered Amber2 and me useless for the rest of the day. God, what a great day to work at the law firm!! And then it occurred to me that the goddamn cameraman was all up in our grills, so that was a slight urination on my excitement. I hope that shit doesn’t surface anywhere.
I sent Henry this picture and it took him TWO HOURS to reply. Because now he’s afraid that James Neal is going to come back for me, THAT’S WHY. Yeah Henry, you better be fucking afraid. I heard he’s really into nervously frumpy girls who don’t talk.
(Here, go to this post and watch this 30 second video to know how awesome James Neal is. Oh, and have a good day.)