I really had forgotten I knew him. It was 33 years ago that this picture was taken. I was 10, he was 22. I lived next door to him for a year. I had a mad crush on him because he was nice to me. He was perfect for me, I surmised, because he was 12 years older than me. My parents were 12 years apart and the age difference didn't matter to them.
I look back on that year and its activities and think how I would never, ever, ever in a million years let my 10 year old hang out with a 22 year old man. I think he and his roommate, Jamie, were in need of permission to act like 10 year olds. I gave them that option. He was from California and said (don't know if it's true) that he'd never been in snow before. I taught him to make snowballs and a snow fort. He quit making his own snowballs and started just catching mine and throwing them back at me. He stole my sled for an extended ride to a fellow workers house, just down the block.
When spring rolled around, we all ate popsicles and watched cartoons on Saturdays. My mom made him an Easter basket that I put on his doorstep---ring and run.
I didn't know too much about his job, really. I just knew he had to go to Florida to work that spring. He promised to write me if I washed his new 280 zx while he was gone. I promised. He gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek before he and Jamie left for Florida. I was worried I'd never see him again because our house was for sale and so was his.
He kept his promise to write me and I kept my promise to keep that car clean.
When he got home from Florida, he was really too busy for cartoons and popsicles. We were in the midst of packing anyway. I began to worry about making friends in a new school and didn't give him much thought.
Before we moved, he said if I'd come see him at work, that he'd always come talk to me. My parents promised we would.
He kept that promise too. Everytime I'd go to the baseball game, I'd sneak over from general admission to the backside of the dugout and call for him during warmups. He always came to visit with me. I felt like a princess when he'd come jogging over and nearly everyone around me that was clamoring for an autograph. Sometimes he couldn't break away from warming up and would simply do a sort of sign language for me. He'd point at himself, then make a giant heart with both hands and then point at me.
I grew up and quit going to baseball games for many years. At 16, I needed a job. I went to see if I could get a job as an usher for the Kansas City Royals. After all, I 'knew' someone and it was a cushy job. I got it. I worked there for several years and never attempted to catch his eye behind the dugout again. I did, however, end up in the same elevator as him once. We chatted a few minutes and it was over. He remembered me, and that was all that mattered.
Fast forward to this year. I have recently joined Facebook and was contacted by my very best friend in elementary school. It is fabulous to be back in touch with her. She shared with me, a story of seeing my old snowball and cartoon buddy at a fundraiser 10 years ago. She approached him, reintroduced herself (she would come to baseball games with me and visit with him), and wondered my name aloud to him. She tells me he broke into a wide grin and said he remembered me. As of 10 years ago, George Brett remembered the little girl that thought he hung the moon.
He was never famous to me. Just the guy next door that was really nice to me, and continued to be that way, even when other people were wanting his attention. I wonder if he'd remember me today?