I traced the shallow arc of the projectile from the Dr Pepper Hoop Troop’s t-shirt cannon with my eyes, not even moving my head, following its short journey from the floor of the American Airlines Center to Section 318 by force of habit more than anything else. I’ve seen thousands of t-shirts land in the arms, and occasionally beers, of thousands of Mavericks fans. I don’t even know why I look anymore. It makes kids happy. That’s nice to see.
I did look, though, and then there you were, a couple of rows down from where the t-shirt landed in a paper basket of chicken strips some idiot forgot to set down. You were an angel in a Wesley Matthews shirsey and yoga pants. You had dark hair and bright eyes, and we shared a smile. But then, I guess I share a smile with everyone. I always have.
I’m Mavs Man.
It’s not my real name, of course. But I’ve long since forgotten what that was.
I wouldn’t recognize it if I saw it. Sometimes at night, when I can’t sleep, I dream of what my name might have been, and what kind of life someone with that name might have. Does he have a wife, a family? Where does he live? Does he like his job? Can he dunk two basketballs after jumping off
I can. I’m Mavs Man.
That’s who I’ve been for as long as I can remember, which actually isn’t very long. Fifteen years or so. Everything before then is kind of a blur. I get flashes sometimes, just a few seconds here and there, an image or two, maybe just a voice. I think in my head I know I’m supposed to be some-one else. I’ll look in the mirror occasionally and am shocked at what I see. That’s probably not much of a surprise. How many people expect to see a smiling basketball wearing sunglasses when they see their reflection?
Pretty much just me. Since I’m the only Mavs Man.
I mean, at least as far as I know. They tell me—Champ and the rest of the Hoop Troop, that is—they tell me I’m the only one. But I’ve always wondered if there is another guy like me out there, a Spalding given hellish life and the innate ability to pump up a crowd. I’ve thought of going on a search, just hopping in the bright blue van with my face on it and driving until it felt right. I almost did once, but then we had to leave for an anti-bullying event at an elementary school in Little Elm, and I guess I missed my moment.
It can be a pretty solitary life, being Mavs Man. I’m surrounded by thousands and thousands of people almost every day, and yet I never really get to know any of them. There are times, I’ll admit, when I’ve thought of jumping in front of the t-shirt cannon, just to see if I can feel anything anymore. But that all changed a month ago, when I saw you.
Now, this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a beautiful woman in the crowd at a game. Not even close. But this is the first time I felt like I had seen my soul mate. It felt like my heart had jumped off the mini-trampoline, did a front flip while grabbing a ball from the outstretched arms of a fan, thrown down a massive dunk, and just hung there on the rim. Some might call that love.
I knew for sure when I saw you in the concourse after the game. I looked up from sending a tweet on my phone, and there you were again. I wanted to talk to you, but—
You know, I really shouldn’t have brought up the phone thing, because now you’re probably thinking I’m one of those guys, always on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, eyes glued to his screen. You’re probably thinking I’m so busy with my virtual life, I’ll never have time for something real. I’ll never have time for you.
I blew it, didn’t I?