Not a whole lot of people walk through the old lady’s department at Macy’s. It’s quiet, tucked away in the corner somewhere, and filled with… interesting clothes. So I wanted nothing to do with this section when I had to walk through it one night with my mother at age 19 when we were looking for some clothing for my grandmother. What I wanted to do was go search the mall for the famous last name of the family my father SWORE he saw in Modell’s.
Two very important people. Two people, I knew I just had to meet. Two people that birthed the greatest human on the face of the earth, at least in my young eyes.
The year was 2007, we had experienced the dynasty of New York Yankees championships from 1996-2000 while continuing to give us a chance to win all the years after. This incredible run was due to a core four that embodied winning to a tee. However, it was centered around one, robotic, winning machine of a man: Derek Jeter. It had been my childhood and teenage dream to meet this man and that night, in the old lady department of Macy’s on a cold, winter day in Livingston, NJ, my dream came true.
I was pacing the aisles, looking down at the floor, and waiting for my mom to pick something out that would most likely sit in my grandma’s closet anyway. I wondered where my Dad might be next, following around who he swore he saw. Was it true? Could it be? How does no one know? How are they not being followed? I forgot that only super weird fans like myself would know exactly what the parents of a baseball star would look like.
Just then, without looking up, I made a turn around a small rack of clothing and instead of walking into open space, I stepped on the very large feet of a very tall man.
Oh gosh, excuse me, so sorry!, I said as I looked up. When we made eye contact, my heart stopped. I knew immediately who I was looking at. He smiled and stepped to the side and said not to worry. He had no clue I had every clue of who he was. He was about to be very surprised that this random young woman in the old lady’s department of a Macy’s in a random mall in New Jersey knew EXACTLY who he was.
Then I looked to his left and there was his wife. She smiled and turned to walk away. A simple run-in with two sets of strangers – or so they thought. I turned and swiftly walked over to my mom as I tried to hide my excitement and I tugged at her purse.
The JETER’S. Dad was right. It’s Dr. & Mrs. Jeter!!!
We were like 12-year-old girls at that point, wanting so badly to go and talk to them but not wanting to be those people. Finally, as we got closer, my mom decided to start the conversation with what is still embarrassing to me to this day and something our family still makes fun of her for.
Creepily, my Mom interrupts their shopping and asks,
May we meet you?
May we meet you?! What are they gonna say, no? I didn’t help matters after I shook their hands and told them they, “raised one hell of a son.”
Who am I right now? Stop talking.
Then my Mom awkwardly discussed his dating life. Mrs. Jeter surprisingly responded, “Well we’re certainly on the look-out for a daughter-in-law.”
Wait, really? Is she serious? Because I know someone. That someone is me.
Well, I have an older sister.
WHAT?! Why did I just offer up my sister and not me?! End this conversation now.
We small talked for a few minutes and shared how much we loved Derek and how much we loved the Yankees. They were nice, cordial, and appreciative, but also very shocked two women in this random department in Macy’s knew who they were. They weren’t noticed by anyone but us, they said. I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or if they were thinking we were stalkers. Nonetheless, I shook their hands one more time and thanked them for their time. It was one of the coolest moments of my life.
Some of you may be thinking that is one of the coolest moments of your life? I get it, it’s Derek’s parents, not Derek himself. It’s not like it led to a bond and friendship that brought our families together and they introduced Derek to me and we fell in love and I traveled to games with my new Mom and Dad and they got their amazing daughter-in-law they were always “on the lookout for” and we watched our man do his thing. (Not that I’ve ever really thought about it).
Alas, it was not meant to be but I still think back to the moment I almost met Derek Jeter. However, what I remember most isn’t the interaction we had or the awkward conversation. What I remember most was what my mother said to me as we walked away.
Well, honey, that’s as close as you’ll ever get to meeting Derek Jeter. You shook the hand of the woman who wiped his butt.
(She did not use the word butt).
Now, 13 years later, I’m a mom of two little boys. And you want to know what I have spent most of my days doing over the last four years?
I always thought I still wanted to meet Derek Jeter, but my Mom was right. That was probably, most likely, as close as I’ll get to meeting him. And you know what? After being a Momma for the last four and a half years, I can tell you from experience that shaking the hand of the woman who once wiped Derek Jeter’s butt is absolutely close enough.