I’m releasing a web series that I wrote and acted in. There’s hopes that it will do well, that it will spread and go viral, that people will watch it and laugh, and maybe someone who sees it will recognize me walking down the street. I started wondering what being famous would be like. Then, I remembered this thing that made me famous, sort of, when I was 9 years-old.
A guy from Pizza Hut called and asked for me. My mom handed me the phone. He had good news; I won a contest. I was invited to catch fly balls after the seventh inning of an upcoming Philadelphia Phillies game. If I caught the balls, I won even more stuff.
A month later, my family and I showed up to the Phillies stadium. We checked our car at the turnstile and I told them who I was: The Pizza Hut Kid. We were directed to our special parking spot near the back entrance of the stadium. This is where the players entered.
My parents and I approached the back entrance of the stadium. Security let us in, of course, because I was The Pizza Hut Kid. Soon enough, a girl in a Pizza Hut baseball jersey greeted me. She handed over a mustard-yellow Pizza Hut t-shirt and told me to put it on. It was huge. A double extra-large, at least. I tucked it in. I hated big shirts and I hated tucking in, but that day I was The Pizza Hut Kid, so who cares?
The girl in the Pizza Hut jersey told me the rules: I would run out onto the field after the seventh inning with a mitt she’d provide. Three baseballs would shoot out of a machine, one at a time. If I caught one ball, everyone in the stadium received a coupon for a breadstick. If I caught two balls, everyone received a coupon for a personal-pan pizza. If I caught all three balls, everyone received a coupon for a pizza, breadsticks and soda. The future gluttony of the stadium depended on my ability to catch baseballs.
The seventh inning arrived. My name flashed on the jumbotron. I ran out onto the field. I was just a little dot of yellow for anyone with bad seats. I looked at the crowd around me: moving bodies and white cups. I looked at the players in the dugout; they didn’t watch. This type of stuff happened every game.
The first ball launched into the air. Low, with a little arc. I got under it and caught it. The second ball launched, slightly higher than the first. I kept my eye on it, just like you’re supposed to do. Nabbed it. The crowded roared for The Pizza Hut Kid. The third ball. The highest of the three. The one that determined if I would feed each person in that stadium with pizza and breadsticks and soda. The one that determined my fate as the true Pizza Hut Kid. The ball soared. I moved forward, then back, then forward again. Me and my yellow shirt dove. Caught.
The crowd, as they say, went wild. I had won thousands of people free pizza. I waved and held the final ball in the air. Applause. The girl in the Pizza Hut jersey ran on the field and walked me off. She said I could take off the mustard-yellow shirt if I wanted to. I kept it on. I was The Pizza Hut Kid.
My family and I went to our seats and watched the rest of the game. People patted my back and slapped my hand. Everyone in the stadium knew who I was. They knew what I had accomplished. They knew what I won for myself: recognition, honor, fame. More importantly, they knew what I had won for them: food.
A week later, I was at a movie theatre in my neighborhood. I waited in line with a friend for tickets. A girl my age in front me in line turned around. She smiled.
“Did you catch the balls at the Phillies game last week?” she asked.
“The Pizza Hut Kid? Yes, that was me.”
“Do you want to get in front of us in line?”
She realized I was The Pizza Hut Kid. I fed her family. She knew what I had accomplished, what I was capable of. She wanted to repay me with a spot in line. I didn’t accept.
But for that moment, a week after I had caught three fly balls in a row at the Phillies game, I knew what it might feel like to be famous. If the success of my web series ever results in someone offering me their spot in line again, I’ll take it.
Image via ScreenCrave.