Yep. It’s my day. 28 on the 28th!!
Oh. Right. I said I wasn’t going up in age this year. “27 Forever”.
But, as I’ve said before, I truly am a fan of birthdays. I don’t like the “getting older” part, but presents? cake? Seriously, how could anyone hate that?
(My dad, that’s who.)
Anyways, on Sunday I went to the Rideau Carleton Raceway with some good friends to celebrate a whole whack of July birthdays (Cowan on the 16th, Brenda on the 24th, Wayne on the 26th, and me.) We enjoyed the 100-item buffet dinner and placed some bets on horses. It was my first time being there for the races, and it was a great evening!
(Brenda just sent me this pic from Sunday night – my birthday wishes on the announcement board! We cheered for each other every time our names came up. haha!)
Being at the Raceway and betting on horse #6 to win got me reminiscing about the last time I was there, also in hot pursuit of a certain #6. Just a little over 10 years ago…
Back then, there was this guy playing for the Ottawa Senators. You may have heard me mention him before. Yeah, you know it. Wade Redden. At the time, he was the stud defenceman on the team, and a real star in the league.
And I was in love with him.
So imagine my excitement when my friend Brenda surprised me with tickets to the 65 Roses Gala at the Rideau Carleton Raceway for my birthday. The reason for the excitement? Wade Redden was the local celebrity chair of the 65 Roses Club (a fundraising committee for Cystic Fibrosis), and he was going to be at the event.
This was my chance to finally meet Wade.
I’d been his biggest fan since I was twelve years old. At the time of the 65 Roses Gala, I was almost 18 years old. So that was six years of hard-core Wade Redden obsession. And by “hard-core”, I mean…hard-core. I knew his hometown, his birthday (and celebrated it), the names of his family members, where his brother went to school, his favourite food, his favourite colour, his favourite brand of cologne, his dog’s name…Pretty much any little tidbit about Redden that I could dig up, I soaked it in and stored it away.
So when Brenda told me my early birthday gift that summer would be tickets to possibly meet him at this Gala? It was pretty much the best birthday present ever.
She warned me the whole way there, though, that she had no idea what this event was going to be like, or how many people would be there. She couldn’t guarantee that I would get to meet Wade, or even see him up close. Brenda made sure to warn me of all this, so that my hopes didn’t get too high.
She didn’t have to worry. We arrived at the Raceway at least an hour before the Gala was to begin, and as we strolled into the main lobby, I spotted him.
He was going up an escalator to the second level. I pointed. “Brenda…Brenda…that’s him.”
She didn’t bother trying to stop me from racing towards the escalator so that I could follow him & his entourage. She just followed along, smiling, knowing that the tickets were already made worthwhile.
We followed him into the big room where the Gala was being held, and I watched in sheer excitement as he munched snacks from the tables. Brenda suggested we go ahead and approach him before the crowd arrived, but despite my desire to do so, I was far too nervous to actually go up to him.
Lucky for me, Brenda’s not a timid person.
She dragged me over and said hi to him, and he smiled and greeted us warmly. She asked if it would be okay if we took some pictures with him before too many other people showed up, and he graciously agreed to do so.
So I stood next to him, and he put his arm around me. I put my arm on his back. I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh my God, I’m touching Wade Redden’s back. I’m touching Wade Redden’s back!!!”
As we posed for the camera, he said to me, “So, how’s it going?”
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t speak. I remember trying to move my mouth, but I couldn’t. I just kept smiling and touching his back and freaking.out.
He seemed to understand. He just chuckled. Then I took his picture with Brenda. And then he took off.
That was, easily, the highlight of my night. Right there. The Gala hadn’t even begun, and my dream had already come true.
Later on, after the speeches and a draw for prizes, he was sitting at a table signing autographs and posing for photos. We approached him once more, this time to get him to sign my Sens jersey. He remembered us, smiling, saying, “You guys again!”
He signed my jersey, and posed for another photo with me:
I look at this picture now, and I’m still in awe of him. It was, pretty much a dream come true. (I only wish I didn’t look like a bag of crap…like, maybe try putting on some make-up, Jill? How about doing something with your hair?? At least try to look presentable for the man of your dreams?!?)
A few weeks later, I turned 18.
I can’t believe that was 10 years ago. I remember the details as if it was yesterday.
It was, indeed, the best birthday present ever!!