Guy walks into a bar.
It’s in Mundelein, a sports bar and grill on Lake called Emil’s. Nice place if you like pizza and flat-screen football on a Sunday in December. Nice place if you’re a Bears fan (nine screens). Or even a Packers fan (five screens). Natural enemies call a truce when at their watering hole. At Emil’s on Lake? They even say, “Hi.”
The place is full, so full that jersey-clad waitresses mumble, “Excuse me,” as they ease past crowded tables. Cedar-paneled walls and a large Blackhawks flag supplement the décor. And there’s a lot of thin-crust pizzas at a lot of tables. The manager is named Mike. Everyone in the establishment seems normal. Except for one guy, the guy that walked in. He’s a writer.
Not just a writer, either: a writer on assignment. A hot tip has put him on the trail of an elusive quarry. He’s been looking for this story for a while now, and so he has that hungry look. He’s followed leads like this before, and they’ve never panned out. But this tip sounded like a sure thing: show up on Sunday, approach from downwind, don’t make too much sound. You’ll find what you’ve been searching for: female NFL fans at a sports bar.
He’s thought about it for a while now. What questions he would ask (So, how’d you get to be a Bears fan?). The story headline he would submit, so that an editor could think up a better one (Football No Fantasy for Female Fan-Addicts). Even how he would camouflage himself (dress like a normal guy, and don’t get the laptop out).
On a typical Sunday afternoon, and maybe on a typical Sunday night, or a Monday night, or even a Thursday or the occasional Saturday night (hey, this is the NFL we’re talking about, and they’ve got bills to pay just like the rest of us) Emil’s is reputed to be wall-to-wall with gal-pal sports fans in their natural environment. Guy knows what to look for: Tebow jerseys (possibly, in pink); ball caps with ponytails poking out the back (possibly, in pink); and those little buckets of lite beer (forget the pink).
This particular Sunday? No show. Nada. Finis. Maybe they’re onto him. Maybe they sniffed him out, even though he took care to disguise his scent (Jagermeister dabbed sparingly behind the ears) and even brought his much-cooler-looking twenty-something son. Or maybe they just knew (female intuition?) that this Sunday was not the Sunday for kicking back with a girls-day-out. (Yeah: Bears lose by 24, and the Packers go from 13-0 to 13-1, humbled by the lowly Chiefs).
Or maybe it’s too close to the holidays, and they suddenly remembered that it’s the last shopping Sunday. Or maybe they found a new place with screens that are even bigger. And flatter. Or maybe they just changed their minds. Could there be other sports bars in Lake County?
Guy walks out of the bar.
At first he’s disappointed. Wasted day. But then he heads to O’Hare, boards his flight for Denver (maybe there’s something to this Tebow?) and finds Seat 32A. Right next to a female NFL fan.
She’s Army Lt. Morgan Light, a 23-year-old med student returning home from a friend’s wedding in Pennsylvania. When she finishes med school in 2014, she’ll be promoted. Yes, she’ll be Capt. Morgan. And her current biggest dream?
Meet Tim Tebow.