My wife wasn’t feeling well this morning, and so she took the day off. Then she started feeling better around lunch, and decided to run a few errands. I joined her. We went to the usual places in Midtown, and ended up at Chipotle to pick up lunch. All the tables were empty, but the line to order was all the way to the door. It was weird.

“I guess we’re between rushes,” I said.

Ten minutes later we ordered our food, and Tina was waiting at the register when I looked back and saw that the line was still to the door. Unbelievable … and OH MY GOD LUKE KUECHLY WAS IN THE LINE. Me and Luke made eye contact. It was awkward because I had to maintain eye contact for a second longer than is comfortable to ensure that it was him. Yup, it was. Evidenced by the two big dudes flanking him. Linemen, I suspected.

Luke is a good-looking man. He’s a bit over 6′, has wavy dark brown hair, and green eyes that stand out against his fair skin. I’ve seen him on TV and billboards, but never really noticed his eyes. When they locked onto mine, however, I was transfixed. It was a little (a lot) weird.

I turned to my wife, who was paying, and whispered, “Luke Kuechly is in line.” And before I could say “don’t turn around or it will be weird!” she turned around–craning her neck and leaving the girl at the register holding her hand out for my wife’s credit card. “Where?” she asked, excitedly.

This made it particularly embarrassing for me because after we made that uncomfortable eye contact earlier, I know he was thinking, “That dude’s going to ask for a picture or something. Or worse, tell his wife.”

When she spotted him, he must have made eye contact with her too because she quickly turned back to the girl at the register and said, “Oh my God Luke Kuechly is in line!” To which the girl said, “Oh yeah, he comes in here all the time.”

As I waited for them to bag our order, I slowly walked to the drink area and then, ever so stealthily, looked over again. And once again me and Luke made eye contact. Now I had to say something, right? What else are you going to do when you make and hold eye contact with someone? Still, I didn’t want to look like a gawker. Hell, I once bumped into Al Pacino in NYC and didn’t ask for an autograph. I could manage the Panthers middle linebacker. So I said, quite loudly from across the room, “You guys!” And immediately thought, where the hell am I going with this? At that point the big lineman looked over at me wondering who this old guy was shouting from across the room. I continued, “Nine and Oh! Keep it up!” and gave them a thumbs up. (??) Luke smiled and said, “Yes sir!” To which I responded (because at that point you have to say something else, right?), “You’re making us proud.”

Luke smiled and said, “We’re trying, sir!”

Then I took the bag of burritos from my wife, grabbed her hand, and headed to the door as she smiled at him the whole way out.

When we got outside she asked, “Are you sure it was him?”

I saw a Maserati in the parking lot. “Pretty sure,” I said.

In conclusion, this Kuechly kid is a good guy from everything I’ve heard by people who have met him around town. Very polite. Very accommodating to fans. Oh, and he’s led the NFL in tackles since 2012.

(My wife made me promise to add that he’s cute. Whatever.)




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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.