Fierce rain fell that day upon my face as I got off the school bus. The Nike’s on my feet got soaked as I splashed through the puddles on the way to my Mom’s car. As I recall this day in my life when I was nine years old, my Mom had a big smile on her face more than usual. “David, Michael Jordan is going to eat at Aunty Lanny’s restaurant,” she exclaimed.
I screamed like a five-year-old does when they see an ice cream truck. I could only picture that my ears raised high, my eyes grew wide, and my nostrils flared at that very moment.
“Can she get me his autograph?” I asked.
“Lanny said she would try her best, but don’t be disappointed.”
My Mom always told me not to get disappointed, especially around Christmas time, which would be her way of deceiving me to believe that I wouldn’t get the present that I wanted.
“We have to go to Coach’s Corner to buy a card for him to autograph!” I shouted.
My tiny ninety two-pound Mom hit the gas pedal as hard as she could, jerking that stick shift as if she was a NASCAR driver in her 1993 Toyota Camry. Dashing through puddles and drifting into the Apache Plaza Mall entrance, she dropped me off, and I sprinted to the trading card store.
“Hey, Dave,” said Ed.
I’ve known Ed at this point for two whole years of my short life because his store was the coolest. He sold hockey, baseball, Pokemon, and all types of trading cards and nerdy stuff that I loved growing up as a kid. Coach’s Corner was the spot back in the day, and I loved it when my Mom would take me there after school.
“My Aunt said she would try to get me Michael Jordan’s autograph. Do you have his card?”
“Take a look in that bucket. There should be a few, maybe a holographic or two.”
My little velociraptor arms scurried through that bin like a Jack Russell terrier digging for a bone in the backyard.
“Take ’em there, Dave,” said Ed.
I was not too fond of it when he’d call me Dave, or when anyone else did for that matter. But, he gave me free Michael Jordan cards, so he had a hall pass this time.
He gave me his signature wink and said, “If your Aunt gets his John Hancock, make sure to bring back one for me too.”
I called him Edward because that is what he got for calling me, Dave. Gosh, I don’t like it when people call me Dave at all. It’s not my government name, so call me David, damn it.
Butterflies occupied my stomach as my Mom drove through the rain to pick up my little sister at my Aunty Lanny’s house. As per usual, my sister cried once my Mom, and I got there because she didn’t want to leave her Aunty. Lanny told me we should go to her restaurant to meet him in person.
I was stoked.
The gourmet five-star French eatery was packed wall to wall. There was security everywhere.
Flash photography, cameras, and microphones you name it. After all, it was Michael Jordan.
I remember learning that this is what it is like to be one of the world’s biggest icons. Suddenly, he and his security guards walked by my Mom and me. I screamed so loud to the point where I don’t even remember what I said.
It was probably along the lines of desperately saying, “Michael Jordan, can I have your autograph? I’m your biggest fan!”
Michael turned around, looked at me, and pulled the cigar from his mouth. He whispered to one of his big security guards to open up so he could walk through to see what he had heard. The guards opened up, and he walked out of them like sunshine through a windowpane. When he saw that it was a kid, he laughed.
“Haha, you scared me for a second there. You scream like a girl. Haha.”
My jaw dropped.
He grabbed my cards and asked me what my name was.
I tentatively said, “Da-da-David.”
“My advice to you, play it, cool Dave. I saw you from halfway across the room.”
As he finished signing all of my cards, he said, “There ya are, Dave.” He shot a wink at me, and he and his security posse jolted, disappearing into thin air.
All I could remember is that he called me Dave. It ruined this memory for me. I hate being called Dave. There are very few things that grind my gears, and this is one of them.
Dave. Dave. Dave. Michael Jordan called me Dave. From that point on, he wasn’t my idol anymore and is why I have no major aspiration to meet anyone that I admire because they will ruin the figment in my imagination of what I perceive them to be.
What you should learn from this story is that I hate being called Dave more then I love Michael Jordan. My name is David, and my name is my name.
I wished that is how the story went. But, the last part didn’t happen. I was lying because it made for a better ending, and I wanted you to keep reading. I never met His Airness, but Lanny did or at least saw him at the restaurant.
But, I know for a fact that MJ would have called me Dave because all Boomers and Generation X’ers call me Dave when they meet me.
The chances were so slim that a four-foot eleven-inch eighty-five-pound woman would be able to throw her elbows up to get through a massive crowd of paparazzi, was going to get Michael Jordan’s autograph for me. She didn’t even know how to speak English at that time in her life and was a shy, soft-spoken immigrant from Vietnam, working as a busser. So, just the fact that she thought of me and tried to do something like that was extraordinary.
The real ending of the story goes as my Mom told me that MJ showed up to the restaurant, ate in ten minutes, and then immediately left in his limo. Lanny tried her best, and she ran after the limo for me in the heavy pouring rain to try to salvage the opportunity.
My spin on the story is better than the truth. But, as I was watching “The Last Dance,” the ESPN docu-series on the MJ and the ’98 Chicago Bulls, it gave me this flashback to this very day in my life. I have a memory of Michael Jordan, which isn’t something that most kids get to have. Even though I never met him or got his autograph, I do have a connecting memory directly related to him. And as I wrote this story, I could remember it one way or the other. Depending on my mood or state of mind when I tell it again, I’ll probably tell it one way or the other. Who knows?
And so it goes.
All from when I was a kid, I still have my “Space Jam” VHS and soundtrack, my nine-year-old pair of Air Jordan’s, my Michael Jordan jersey, and my Nike MJ Chicago Bulls basketball. But, the one thing I have and cherish the most is my story of how my Aunty Lanny ran after Michael Jordan’s limo to get me his autograph.
“The Zos Knows”
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