Last night I met Mario Lemieux.
I’m sorry. I think I’m going to cry. Give me a minute.
Okay. So, after years and years and years and YEARS of loving the man, and after more recent years of kinda sorta stalking the man and trying to steal his stuff from his foundation offices, with no luck (yet), I finally was in the same room with Mario Lemieux, walked up to Mario Lemieux, talked like a demon-possessed kid speaking tongues to Mario Lemieux, got my picture taken with Mario Lemieux, and was — wait for it — TOUCHED BY MARIO LEMIEUX.
I need to cry again.
The reason my husband and I, and my butler Mike and his wife Meg, and Luke from Microsoft and his wife Jessica were invited to the event was because of Make Room for Kids.
The event was the table games preview at the Casino last night, with all losses benefiting the Mario Lemieux Foundation.
The reason we were able to corner the man, and I DO LITERALLY MEAN CORNER THE MAN, was because someone ill-advisedly put us all on the VIP list. That person, who shall remain nameless, will probably never do that again.
Right now, she’s all, “That’s church, sister.”
Upon arrival at the casino, the six of us headed straight for the VIP restaurant area to eat delicious noms. There were spicy watermelon things, buffalo chicken things, tiny Primanti sandwich things, mystery lobster things, crab cakey things, and on and on and on. Oh, and cheesecake things.
So there we were, like jesters in the royal ballroom, sitting in a booth, eating all manner of weird, but delicious foods, and drinking wine.
The six of us were sharing stories of our run-ins with famous people when Mario and his beautiful wife Nathalie walked into the restaurant.
And a hush fell over the crowd.
Not really. A hush fell over our table and then our conversation turned to this, “HE’S HERE HE’S HERE HE’S HERE THERE HE IS LOOK AT HIS HEAD. HE’S HERE. WE ARE IN THE SAME ROOM WITH MARIO LEMIEUX.”
The fact that we were the ONLY people in the VIP room doing that tells me something, but I’m ignoring it. LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU TELL ME I’M COMMON FOLK.
We began strategizing because no way in hell were we leaving without a picture of us with Mario. As we were discussing strategies, Mario and his wife left the room, probably to go mingle with the common folk. HA! Kidding.
After about 15 more minutes of stuffing my face with tiny foods and downing my second glass of Riesling, we decided to head out to the table games and donate some money via losses at the tables. It was then, when we rose and walked toward the restaurant exit, THAT MARIO WALKED BACK IN.
We stopped in our tracks as he engaged guests in conversation.
And we laid in wait. When he had finished his conversation, he looked like he was coming straight for us and we collectively began to internally jump up and down. We all got big smiles on our faces and our shoulders rose with anticipation and we rehearsed in our heads what we would say to him, and Mario walked right past us.
So, most of the people in the VIP room, when they talk to Mario? It’s no big deal. They have an air of indifference. I’m sure he appreciates that, but I couldn’t do that, because I’m all too aware that in that room at that moment, Mario was the entire head at the top of the totem pole and I was the left half of the eyeball of the tiny bug pooping on the ground next to the totem pole.
After another minute or so of waiting, we did our CORNER HIM LIKE NINJAS bit, and approached him in a way that he had no way out but to go through us. And if he tried that, we were totally going to trip him.
I sort of spoke initially for the group and tried to give the Make Room for Kids elevator speech as fast as humanly possible and did it in a way that made zero sense, so little sense in fact that I’m pretty sure Mario thinks Luke Sossi invented the XBOX.
Let’s just roll with that.
So after my blah blah blah giggle XBOX transplant I love you will you marry me blah blah [click click] [pew pew] speech, I said, “Look, we’re probably the only people in the VIP section who are going to ask you this question, but can we get a picture with you?”
And Mario did not say, “I have hundreds of millions of dollars; my shoes are made from the hide of a royal cow who was fed only gold flakes; my watch costs more than most people will earn in a lifetime; and you, you common folk crashing the VIP section, I fart in your general direction.”
He said, “Sure!”
Of course the professional photographers suddenly appeared to snap the picture, BUT THAT WOULDN’T DO, because I’ll never get those pictures. So after they took pictures, I had to say to Mario, “Um. Could you stay there while WE get a picture now?”
And he farted in our general direction.
I’M KIDDING. He was gracious and kind and took the additional picture with us and then was immediately pulled away by other VIPs.
But we got our picture you guys!
He has his arms around my waist!
Do you mind if I cry again? Do you mind if I crop out me and Meg’s husbands just for a sec?
But wait. The fun didn’t end there.
We stalked Mario to the table games and I sent Woy to take pictures:
At this point, we decided we were risking a warning to leave Mario alone, so it was gambling time. Meg, Jennifer and I left our husbands at the craps table, which boy is THAT an appropriately named game. Know what else would be a good name for it? Chaos.
I much preferred the Monopoly machine Meg introduced me to. No skill. Just feed this machine a $20, smack this button here, and watch the little men in suits run around on the screen. She and I sat there for an hour maybe and took turns screaming and punching each other on the arm when the other would make some money while people all around us did the same. We were with our people. The common people.
Fast forward to later in the evening. Luke and Jessica and Mike and Meg had left. It was about 8:45 p.m. and I was standing in the High Roller room or whatever it’s called, watching my husband play blackjack. This will be the only time I’m ever in that room because for this one night only, the maximum and minimum bet was FIGH DOLLAHS!
I went between that room and the outer room where Mario was still gambling with his wife, and at one point when I returned to my husband he said, “Did you see Jerome Bettis?”
I was all, “JEROME BETTIS IS HERE WHERE OKAY BYE NOW DON’T LOSE ALL OUR MONEY!”
I walked out of the room and there was Jerome Freaking Bettis walking right toward me with a friend of his. He didn’t appear to be there for the table games preview event, but rather was just there on his own. I stepped in front of him, prepared to trip him if necessary, and I said, “[Gasp!] Can I get my picture taken with you?”
But he kept walking, possibly farted in my general direction, and called out, “I don’t think they let people take pictures in here.”
I called after him, “Well, I’m a big fan!” and in my head I added, “You big fat jerk has-been!”
He stopped dead in his tracks like he heard me! As I wondered if I accidentally said that last part out loud, his shoulders slumped a bit and … he burst out laughing, turned on his heel and came back to me to shake my hand and say thanks.
I was on top of the world.
I met Mario. I was touched by Mario. I had a chance encounter with Jerome Bettis who I may or may not have insulted out-loud. I mingled with the filthy rich. I ate rich foods. I felt like I had climbed up the totem pole. Like maybe I was the entire bug that was caught in the spider web two heads from the bottom of the totem pole.
And the universe saw this and the universe said, “BAZINGA!” and smote me immediately with the worst migraine headache I have ever had in my whole life. I spent the last 45 minutes at the Casino wondering if the VIPs would be grossed out if I used one of the tiny dessert spoons to scoop my throbbing eyeball out of my head and place it in a martini glass.
In the car ride on the way home, it felt like someone had replaced my eyeball with a billiard ball. Just shoved it in there. The car ride home was also when I learned from a phone call to my Mom that my daughter had taken ill with a high fever.
Two hours later, close to midnight, having met Mario Lemieux and Jerome Bettis, and having spent time in places I’ll never be again with important people I’ll never be with again, I sat in my living room, my feverish, weeping daughter on the couch with my husband, my son crying because he was so tired and his room was messy and he couldn’t sleep in a messy room, the dogs tearing through the living room chasing each other like common folk dogs do, and I puked and fell off the totem pole, landing hard on the ground where a monkey stepped on me.
And the Universe slowly nodded its head and said, “That’s better.”
But who cares. Mario Lemieux touched me. And it’s all because of you.
The point of this post? Just wanted to say thank you, you guys, for giving me one of the best nights of my life.
I’m going to steal a hockey stick for you next time I’m in the foundation offices.