in this harrowing first-person account
Me and the boys meet Luke Ridnour. My oldest was clearly disappointed that this Luke didn't have a lightsaber.
by Rafael "Chunkstyle" Calonzo
SuperSonicSoul Cub Reporter
[Note: It has been called to our attention that if the editorial staff had only been keeping an eye on the society pages of the Bellingham Daily Bugle, we would have known that the woman referred to as Mr. Ridnour's "girlfriend" in this article is, in fact, his wife. The management of this site regrets this error.So I had lunch with Luke Ridnour and Squatch at Quizno's today. Nice guys, but I had to pay for my own food.
The author has since been demoted from Cub Reporter to Lil' Bear Fetus Reporter, 3rd class, and re-assigned to cover 4th grade girls field hockey. --Ed.]
...Ooooor something like that. The barely one-week old sandwich shop in my neighborhood was having its official grand opening celebration, complete with a radio station promo, balloons, and the chance to get the Sonics point man's autograph while waiting for your Turkey Bacon Club to emerge from the patented Quizno toastification process.
When I found out yesterday that Ridnour was going to be in the neighborhood, I have to admit that I vacillated about coming out. I came up with a zillion reasons not to go: I'm gonna look like some stupid geek/fanboy/loser/stalker (especially when I mention the website)... I'm gonna say something really stupid... How lame would I feel about going to see a SuperSonic at a local samwich joint--or worse, how lame would Ridnour feel about being a SuperSonic at a local samwich joint, and do I really want to be a part of that?
In the end I went against my tendency to be a recluse and decided to go. I talked myself into it once I realized that:
1) I totally am a geek/fanboy/loser with a website (I'm too lazy to be a stalker);
2) I can't help but say stupid stuff in my everyday life--why would today be any different? Plus, I would have to say something off-the-charts ignorant for him to even remember me, since
3) a dude like that probably gets paid to do some 300 restaurant/gas station/dry cleaner grand openings a year--shoot, if that's lame, I wish to GOD I could be that kind of lame instead of my usual kind of lame for free.
At any rate, I made sure that I dragged my family along so I didn't look like a complete basement-dwelling shut-in ("Look! I have a wife and kids! That's gotta prove I've kissed a girl!") I also guilted my brother and his son into going, especially since bro had the only unworn SSS shirt in the clan.
So we get there, and Squatch is in the somewhat bustling parking lot, clowning around and shooting free-throws on the bumper-mounted hoop of the Squatch Mobile with some kids. The line to meet Ridnour was out the door... which seemed impressive until I realized the line to order a sandwich was actually longer (hey, cats in the burbs loves them some toasty subs). He was dressed like any other dude his age might be on an overcast Seattle day: backwards hat, t-shirt over long sleeve T, jeans, sneakers. If the line hadn't led right up to his table, he easily could've been mistaken for some kid filling out a job application with a Sharpie. [NOT a diss on his appearance or youth at all--more like, I was impressed that a professional athlete could come across as such a regular guy. His "posse" consisted of his girlfriend and some Sonics PR flacks. How un-celebrity-like can you get?]
Arriving at the front of the line, I gave Ridnour a SUPERSONICSOUL t-shirt and explained that I help run a little fan website where we write dumb stuff about the team. He seemed somewhat amused by that. Then he signed my grimy Sonics hat and posed for some pictures, after which I was promptly hustled into the sandwich line.
I did manage to ask him some stupid questions later when the autograph line dwindled. I asked who he thought was the toughest guy to guard in the NBA. He said "I dunno, it's a new season... But Iverson's pretty tough."
When I asked him if he liked any of the nicknames he's been given, he said, no he doesn't know of any.
"You know, how some folks call you 'Frodo,' or 'The Disciple.'"
"Yeah, some ESPN writer called you that."
"Huh, that's not bad."
His girlfriend giggled and offered "What about 'Lukey'?" He didn't seem to dig that one.
[Note: this hard-hitting line of questioning should put to rest any second-guessing about my decision to switch majors from journalism to art.]
As I waited for my brother to get his food (dude bailed on the whole autograph thing... chicken!), I stood back and watched as the line trickled down to almost nothing. When a few folks wandered in looking for Ridnour, they almost always walked right past him. If he wasn't signing a stack of posters for the Quizno's staff, I'm not sure how folks would've spotted him otherwise.
Later we went out and my brother and nephew shot free throws with Squatch to get free swag. Ridnour came out when his autograph hour was up and showed off his underhand freethrow skills. His lady stood nearby, clutching the SSS t-shirt in her arms.
It struck me then that he probably will never wear that shirt. At best, maybe he'll buff his Hummer with it. I was okay with that. I was comforted with the thought that, someday, when he's polishing up the chromed-out frame around his 'DISCIPL' vanity plate, perhaps he'll see the URL, remember that dorky guy at the Quizno's with his kids, and maybe, just maybe visit the site on his Sidekick or Blackberry out of curiosity.
Maybe then he can read this post, and in the unlikely event that he reads 'til the end, he may answer the one burning question I meant to ask but only remembered after we left:
"Hey Luke, you gonna grow out your fro again?"
Photos: Carrie "Croppin'" Calonzo, Ravenal "Baby Deer" Calonzo