5 Feb

My family wants to disown me. So, if anyone is looking for a slightly spastic, occasionally high-strung, messy yet loveable baked goods enthusiast with a coffee addiction to add to your family, please hit me up. My “fowry” (dowry for family adoption) is half a loaf of cranberry nut bread and the ill-fitting wrist strap of a Fitbit. Let’s start the bidding at $.50.

Seriously, though, after yesterday, I think that all of my family members will conveniently have “out of state business” to attend to on my birthday.

Yesterday, I attended the Patriots Super Bowl victory parade.

No, no, I didn’t just attend the parade…I OWNED the parade. I owned it like an adult person owns a KitchenAid mixer. I PAID FOR THAT SHIT IN CASH.

Sorry, I’m excitable right now.

Anyway, yesterday I went to the parade. After waking up late from a slumber during which my earplugs kept falling to the ground and I thought I heard a mouse like, seventeen times, I hurried to put together a “parade-appropriate” ensemble – my athletic and warm yoga pants, my Tom Brady t-shirt, my aviator sunglasses, and my green head wrap (for those days when a regular old hat will kill the hipster vibe that you’ve been trying to create since fall of 2011).

When Emalie and I met up with Leanne for some pre-parade Dunkin Donuts, she said I looked like a “winter Kardashian.” Rough start.

As we made our way to the beginning of the parade route, I was surprised by how few people there were. Sure, there was your token man yelling about hash browns and beer to a friend. And yes, there were people giving out free hats that said “Verizon” on the front and had the “NFL” symbol in teeny tiny embroidered letters on the far left corner of the hat…

But everything seemed relatively calm…too calm…

(I should have known the indications of a record-breaking day.)

When the parade finally started, my hands were numb, I’d accumulated two items of desk-cluttering swag, and my phone was at 12% battery.

But I was in the front row. And I was ready.

Being the experienced sports fanatic celebrity chaser that I am, I know that it is important to take multiple photos of anyone and everyone that looks like they could possibly be someone of importance…which is why I used nearly all of my 12% battery to photograph the “Practice Squad” that was riding in the first Duck Boat of the parade…

Little did I know, Tom Brady was just around the corner and I only had about 6% left to document him. Wait, make that 5%.

Unfortunately, Tom decided that he was bored with our side of the street, and so decided to readjust his position RIGHT AS I WAS POISED TO TAKE MY FINAL PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PARADE.

Unbeknownst to Tom, I’d been wearing my jacket OPEN for the last HOUR so as to show off my shirt in the 20 degree weather. (Because I’m sure he would have noticed my shirt had he decided to stand on the correct side of the boat.)

After the entire parade passed us, Leanne and I decided that a bunch of photos (mostly on her end) and one or two “I think he looked at me but also I’m not sure” anecdotes would NOT be enough to fulfill our parade dreams.

And so, we took off running and chasing the parade. Slowly at first, then faster, until we were openly dodging and weaving around unsuspecting old folk and babies.

I felt like I was Leonardo DiCaprio in that scene where he’s running to board the Titanic on time. Only instead of running to board a boat and fall in love and then freeze, I was running to catch another look at Tom and to step-up my Fitbit mileage for the day (and also to freeze, but in a much more *low-key* kind of way than poor Leo’s).

Finally, we’d covered so much ground that we were back at the center of the parade!

And that’s when I realized that people were shedding their clothes. No, not just the woman who decided to flash Blount and an entire crowd of youths…but others were also, in a more appropriate, “I’m wearing ten layers, let me remove one” kind of way.

People were shedding their clothes because Rob Gronkowski was signing t-shirts from his Duck Boat.

Without giving it a moment’s thought, I threw my coat and bag at Leanne and ripped off my t-shirt.

“Leanne,” I said, breathlessly, “I want to get this signed!”

We pushed past two lines of people until we were neck-and-neck with Gronk’s boat.

“It’s too risky!” she replied. “Someone will steal it when he throws it into the crowd.”

Ready to give up on our mission and get a Dunkin hot cocoa, I turned to continue walking. (Dunkin hot cocoa vs. a signed t-shirt…six of one, half dozen of the other.)

And then, before I could even register what was going on, Leanne grabbed my shirt and flung it into the air.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out (soberly) for the rest of this experience. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, and there was a weird ringing in my ears. (Possibly damage from the earplugs I’d worn to bed, but there wasn’t time to consider that as a possibility!)

The next thing I knew, Gronk was holding my greyish blue shirt and was writing on it!


That’s right. Athlete she is, Leanne had managed to chuck my shirt at Gronk during the one three-second lull in the action.

And then, Gronk threw it back. He raised his arm, gave a goofy look to the crowd, and chucked my shirt into the abyss.

“NOOOOO” I screamed, as my head – still moving in slow motion (it’s not just for films, guys) – turned to see the shirt disappear.

What happened next was perhaps the most epic display of panic and adrenaline to ever manifest itself in a single human being.

I leapt – like a puma that had a baby with a kangaroo and then got a 5 Hour Energy spokesmanship gig – over three rows of people, all the while screaming, “THAT’S MY SHIRT. THAT’S MY SHIRT. WHERE IS MY SHIRT? THAT’S MY SHIRT!!!”

When my feet finally touched ground, I found the man who was holding my shirt! Yes, a kind, older man was gripping it and showing it proudly to his wife.

Still replicating the behavior of a Dance Mom whose kid just made it to Nationals, I patted this kind sir on the arm and said, “EXCUSE ME, THAT’S MY SHIRT!!! SHIRT. THAT. MINE. IT. SHIRT. THAT. MINE. SORRY. PLEASE SHIRT. FOR ME. IT.”

I had completely lost touch with reality – as well as the English language – and had entered a world where shirts signed by Gronk are as valuable as four person tables at a trendy NYC café.

I’m surprised that the three hairs on this poor man’s head weren’t blown backward by the wind and spittle that comprised my intense discourse.

Kind sir said, “Oh, ha, okay! No problem!” and gave me my shirt. It was that easy.

(But, for the purposes of “Irish Storytelling,” as my grandmother calls it, I will be telling people that I “wrangled the shirt from an elderly man.” How that adds positive elements to the story, I’m not really sure…but the word “wrangled” does sound exciting and rather animalistic, doesn’t it?)

Shirt in hand, Leanne and I proceeded to scream and squeal and jump and then perform a synchronized dance to “Uptown Funk,” which was playing over the loudspeakers. Apparently, signage-induced excitement can teach a girl how to dance.

When I finally got my phone working again, I excitedly texted – or “fexted,” as we call “family texting” – my family to tell them the good news.

The responses I received were *lacking in supportive aspects.* (That’s alternative preschool talk for REALLY RUDE.)



Dad: Is she kidding?

Lydia: I think she is.

Mom: No one knows.



Dad: Looks like a chicken with ink on its feet ran across you.

Dad: #yougotGronked

Me: I wrangled the shirt from an old man after Gronk signed it and threw it into the crowd!

Dad: Looks like the old man had black ink in his fingernails. #liarliarpantsonfire

Lydia: Fake.


Cecelia: I’m genuinely livid if this is true.



Lydia: Dad, go find some connections and plan a meet and greet with one of the players. This is all your fault!

Mom: You didn’t ask to go, Lyd. How would you have gotten there? You’re not being fair. Sophie, that’s so exciting. Well done!


Ah, Mom. Always the voice of reason.

You see, though?? My fears of being disowned are completely legitimate.

There is absolutely no truth to the accusation that I thought “football” to be a “French pastry.” There’s no way the French would agree to having any type of American word attached to their pastries.

I should admit, though, that it’s true I am not the biggest football fan.

Actually, that’s not true. What’s true is that I am the biggest football fan when there is a Super Bowl and when my team is playing and when we win and I get to be in the first row of the parade.

NO ONE can deny that I am obsessed with celebrities. And this was a parade full of celebrities!

So, while two weeks ago, had you asked me what “Gronk” was, I may have responded with, “a rare form of Gangrene,” I am currently hip to the football scene.

And now I have Gronk’s shirt.

No, no. Now I have my shirt that says Tom Brady’s name on it, and that is signed by Gronk.

And now my shirt’s fibers are mingled with Gronk’s DNA (and some nachos that I spilled on the shirt during the Super Bowl).

And now Gronk’s DNA is resting on my DNA.

So basically we are married.

It pays to be a SupahFan!


Ps. I should note that, despite all her complaining and resentment, Lydia and I are on good terms because she later sent me a text suggesting that I “Write a blog post about my day and make sure to include all of her biting text message comments.” Which I did.

4 Responses to “Gronked”

  1. thatssojacob February 10, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    I was holding my coffee cup the whole time I was reading this story and only now took a sip, that’s how good it was.

    • sophpearl February 18, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

      Haha I feel bad for preventing you from drinking coffee, but I really appreciate you reading and enjoying! Thanks so much!

  2. leslie37 February 6, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    Hilarious Sophie!! You actually made me want to go to the parade – I want to get Gronked!

    • sophpearl February 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks, Leslie!! It was totally worth it. Exhausting, but worth it 🙂

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