Misery began descending even before I reached the end of the line. I had waited too long, and now it was already so long that it would surely be cut off before I could make it to the front. Before I reached the sole reason I had gone to the Metrodome on Sunday. Before I got to have my photo taken with Torii Hunter.
The photo wasn’t really even the point. This was my opportunity to get up close enough to the Twins’ Gold Glove-winning center fielder to say what I had to say to him. I had the words all worked out in my head. There was something I wanted Torii to know.
But so many people had lined up before me, by the time I reached the last of them, I was convinced I was too late. The disappointment was impossible to hide. My Ho, who had planned to take a walk around the other exhibits while I waited, stayed beside me and tried to be consoling. It didn’t help.
The line continued growing behind us, but otherwise didn’t move. We waited. I pouted.
A Twins Fest worker in a red polo shirt stopped just ahead of us and announced that anyone beyond that point would most likely not make it to the front of the line in time for a photo. Torii was only available for 30 minutes, and they’d try to move everyone through as quickly as possible, but it might be a long wait for nothing.
I made up my mind not to waste my time. There were lots of other things to do, and no point in standing around for half an hour to end up empty handed. Torii would be back for Twins Fest again next January. I could get my photo with him next year.
But I couldn’t leave.
I apologized to My Ho for being such a dork. The line inched forward. Twenty minutes left.
He held my spot while I stepped a few feet away, just long enough to enter a drawing for free spring training tickets, and then stepped back into place. Fifteen minutes.
The Demigoddesses, who had gone off to listen to a few National Anthem auditions, found us and reported that they were WAY worse than American Idol. Ten minutes.
The line ran alongside the cordoned-off photo area before looping back around into a zig-zagging partitioned queue. We crept forward until he was right there, five feet to my left, wearing a black shirt in place of his number 48 jersey. Torii mugged for the camera with Twins fan after Twins fan, shaking hands, accepting hugs, making faces, sticking out his tongue, grinning. His smile was even more dazzling than the diamond stud that glittered from his earlobe. I took a picture. Seven minutes left.
I knew if I could just get inside that partitioned queue, I’d be golden. With five minutes to go, we stood poised at the entrance. And then we were in. My Ho waited at the exit while the Demis and I zig-zagged through the last of the line until, with mere moments to spare, it was finally our turn. My moment had arrived.
“Torii,” I said, “when they drove you out of Fenway Park on the back of that cart last summer, the look on your face broke my heart. I sat on my couch and cried. I hope you’re feeling much better.”
“Aw, man," he said, "I was cryin’ too. I really was.”
We smiled for the photo. Demigoddess the Elder gave him a hug. Demi the Younger did the same. My Ho made a joke from the exit and Torii laughed. And then it was over.
Security guards escorted him through the swarms of people. He paused for one more quick photo with a bunch of little kids, and was gone.
After that, the Demis, My Ho and I went to play Twingo. Which was fine with me, because I needed to sit down for a minute.
I was all wobbly.