It’s that time of year again – time for the Tour de France. My usual 30 minutes of television watching per day has turned into 3 hours as I find myself glued to the action, tactics, and energy of the peleton.
As OLN’s coverage of Day 2 winds down, I sit here and watch my boy, George Hincapie, adorned in the maillot jaune. And I think to myself, ‘you look good in yellow, George.’
Actually, George would look good in just about anything. Standing over 6 feet tall, he epitomizes every girl’s dream of tall, dark, and handsome. A chiseled face and legs thick with power, George Hincapie is literally ‘smoking’.
One of my favorite pieces of sports footage is watching George as he crosses the line en route to his first stage win in last year’s Tour. He approaches the line, looks behind himself, sees no one, and the joy that spreads over his face is absolutely tangible even through the television. As if in disbelief of his own strength, focus, and fury, he puts his hands on his face before reaching them in the air to claim his victory. It was one of the most memorable moments of last year’s coverage.
I had the pleasure of meeting George last year in Las Vegas at Interbike, the world’s largest cycling expo for industry professionals. Never mind how I got into Interbike or why I was there in the first place. I was with my sister-in-law, Meredith, walking through the expo and ogling the goods, gear, and guy candy. Passing by the Hincapie Clothing booth, I noticed that George was going to make an appearance at 3:30 pm. We looked at each other and knew what we had to do – make a beeline back to this booth at 3:30 pm to get a good look at this dreamy man.
At 3:30 pm, we stood in line, waiting for George. Finally, when it was our turn, we approached him and just like in our dreams – he was tall, his hair was dark, and dammit, he was handsome. Standing a few feet away from him, I couldn’t help but mumble to Meredith, ‘he’s smoking.’
George pulled out a picture of himself and opened up a black Sharpie. He looked at us, waiting for an indication of who we were and what exactly we wanted. Noticing the glaze over my eyes and drool dripping my mouth, Meredith took charge and said “Would you write ‘To Liz, you’re smoking’?’
He quickly began scribbling my name across a picture, the closest to George that I would ever get, and then he handed me the personalized picture. A smile spread across my face as I grew excited about finally having a piece of George right in my hands and at that moment I read over his beautiful message surely scribbled in that style just for me and as I was about to reach the pinnacle of my Hincapie-induced happiness, I noticed it said ‘To Liz, your smocking! George Hincapie.’
I stood there, picture in hand, in absolute disbelief. So I read it again. Nevermind the glaring inappropriate use of ‘your’ vs. ‘you’re’ that I was willing to let slide. My eyes started to burn and my body started to rumble as the spelling stickler inside of me gazed with the incredulity and horror of such a simple yet incomprehensible spelling error of the word ‘smoking’. Inside my mind shouted, “Red pen! I need a red pen! Would somebody please get me a red pen NOW!.’ in an effort to instantly correct and erase this error, to put George back onto a pedestal of perfection in my collection of cycling hotties.
Meredith spoke first, ‘Smockin? Like a smock?’. I know in her mind she was thinking of a kindergarten art class, parading around with a paint brush in hand while wearing a red plastic smock. In the corner of the classroom, a kid was eating paste and the teacher was clothespinning another kid’s artwork on to a piece of laundry cord. An utterly cute picture, of course, but not something that I really wanted to be. Smoking is one thing, but smocking? Puts a completely different spin on it. Turns something from steaming hot into suddenly hokey pokey.
Trying to wipe this picture from my mind, a wave of witty sarcasm rushed over me and, without a red pen to quell my anger or at the very least shove in my mouth, I couldn’t hold it in any longer as I blurted out ‘I guess spelling wasn’t your forte. Good thing cycling was.’
George looked at me, quizzically, paused for a moment, and then smiled.
Fearful that we would be escorted from the booth, Meredith and I smiled sheepishly and then quickly moved on.
And as we walked away, we giggled and mouthed ‘smockin’ to each other. We didn’t know what it meant or why we were it, but in George’s eyes, we were smockin’ and from a man like that, it seemed like a pretty good thing to be.
And who knows – maybe one day George and I will even get to share some paste together in the back of the classroom.