The Ray Allen Story
I took my then-girlfriend to see The Bourne Ultimatum on opening weekend, which Wikipedia tells me was in 2007. This was near the very tale end of a five-year-long relationship that was, at that point, in the on-and-off-and-on death rattle stage. We went to the movie theater in my hometown in Connecticut, which (I think) at the time was still called Destinta Theaters. We had an argument and got there late. The previews were already rolling. There appeared to be only a few seats left, in the second row from the front, which I wasn’t thrilled about. We grabbed a couple.
About ten minutes into the movie, NBA star Ray Allen walked in with his wife and another woman. This in and of itself wasn’t that unusual; he popped up every once in awhile because his wife is from the next town over and her mom still lived in the area. They’d been together for a long while and she had been a bit of a local celebrity herself. (I believe that when I was in high school she was in an R&B group called Shades.) They spotted the three seats next to us and came over. Allen sat next to me. “What’d I miss?” he asked me. I filled him in.
Pretty much immediately Allen’s wife and the other woman, who I’m guessing was a girlfriend of hers, started gabbing. Not loud or disruptive or anything, but they were very clearly chatting to each other and not to him. Meanwhile Allen would say stuff like “bam!” and “got’em!” after Jason Bourne would kill someone or do something cool. For a second I thought to myself, is he talking to me? And I know that this is a very odd thing to feel for someone who’s just sitting next to you at a movie theater, but I felt a little bad for Allen, who seemed lonely. Celebrities have a way of arresting your attention.
Anyway he had both a cellphone and a Blackberry, and at one point he dropped the Blackberry. After using the dim light from his cellphone to try to look for his Blackberry for a moment, he climbed down into the area in front of his seat to look. This is where the trouble began. This is a gentleman, if you’re unaware, who’s like 6’6, and there isn’t a lot of room in the space in front of a movie theater seat. For an agonizing minute I watched him try to maneuver his giant body in that space, looking in vain for his Blackberry. It was painful to watch. My girlfriend, who was perfectly unaware of who he was, started making unhappy noises. Then I made a strategic blunder: I got down to help him look. In hindsight, this doesn’t make a ton of sense; the last thing that the situation needed was more human mass squeezed into that space. I’m certainly not NBA-sized, but I am about 6’2 in shoes, and I was simply deepening what was at heart a geometry problem. But I dropped down to help without really thinking it through.
What followed couldn’t have taken more than two minutes, tops, but felt like it took an eternity. I got down there to look and found myself in a forest of limbs. I never really apprehended just how much human there is to a particularly tall person before that moment. Everywhere I turned in that sticky, dark space, I found more Ray Allen. I would twist to reach deeper under the seat in front of me and find myself staring at another of his knees or elbows. I wasn’t sure he even knew I was trying to help until at one point he craned his long neck around towards me and gave me a forlorn look. We were making something of a commotion and I heard a few people shushing and my girlfriend was making increasingly insistent unhappy noises. At one point I turned myself and found to my horror that I was wedged between a movie theater seat and the torso of NBA All-Star Ray Allen. And then I guess he must have finally gotten his hand on his Blackberry because he laboriously pulled himself into his seat and I did the same. The rest of the movie was uneventful.
Allen and his party left as soon as the credits started to roll. In the car after the movie my girlfriend and I had a blowout fight; it started out with her demanding to know what the hell I was doing crawling on a dirty movie theater floor with a stranger, but the fight wasn’t really about that, as I’m sure you’ll understand. We almost broke up that night, and I remember wondering how I would explain to my friends why we broke up. “Well, you see, Ray Allen dropped his Blackberry….”
I have no idea if Allen would even remember the incident. Like I said, we couldn’t have been down there more than a couple minutes, and unlike him, I’m not famous and worth remembering. But I’ll never forget it; it was, in a way that’s charming with hindsight, one of the more surreal experiences of my life. And that’s my Ray Allen story.
“Well, you see, Ray Allen dropped his Blackberry….”
I think, going forward, this should be known as a code phrase for every unrelated scenario that ended up being the catalyst for a completely inevitable break-up.
"So...my girlfriend and I finally called it quits. It was a long time coming though."
"What was the last straw?"
"Ray Allen dropped his Blackberry."
Speaking of NBA size and skill, I've been in pickup games with former, current, and future NBA players. They made me feel like the first human on the evolutionary chart and they were a human that was far beyond our existing understanding of what a human can do. They make otherwise good and great players look like children. So I love the image of Ray Allen doing something very ordinary. Even Hercules occasionally stumbled, right?