You never know who you might see at the airport. You never can tell even if you might end up downing tequila shots with one of the most famous and universally beloved men in Houston before noon on a work day.
Continental Club cocktail waitress / merch girl / one-half of the sisterly Dancing Girls duo Tricia Gernand recently lived out those adages at Hobby Airport.
Earlier this month, Gernand was jetting off to Seattle to attend BurlyCon, America's foremost confab of burlesque culture. Her plane was delayed for about an hour, so she decided to kill that hour in the concourse's Pappacito's. It was about 10:30 in the morning.
Gernand pulled up one of the four or five stools at the bar, set down her bag on the next stool, and ordered a breakfast taco and a bloody Mary. Two handsome young men took seats near her at the bar, one of them very talkative and African-American.
"I am having a bad day," he said to everyone and nobody and ordered up what Gernand had selected. Only he wanted his bloody Mary to be a double and his breakfast taco to be deluxe: it arrived mounded with egg, sausage, potato, and sour cream.
"A young man in a wheelchair and his mother introduced themselves to [him]," Gernand recalls. "I didn't really hear what was going on but thought to myself, 'Oh, he must be somebody.'"
Gernand, only paying half-attention, heard the man talking about an injury of some sort. Returning his attention to Gernand, the man offered her a shot, and soon enough Ashley, the bartender, slapped down two chilled glasses of Patron. Gernand and the stranger clinked their glasses and they toasted to better days to come. Gernand then told him that she'd quit drinking tequila some time before, and the man apologized her for making her drink it. "Such a sweet fellow," she recalls.
A while later their chat had died down and Gernand turned her attention to the screen of her cellphone. An airport employee approached her new friend. "I know you, you play football," he said. "Ah, nah, man, I play chess," he replied. "I get that all the time, right?" he asked his buddy, the other handsome young man.
"The worker apologized for interrupting and walked away," Gernand recalls. "I laughed."
The man then turned his attention back to Gernand and asked her where she was headed. She told him she was on her way to a burlesque fest in Seattle.
"What's burlesque?" he asked. Gernand told him it was ladies performing striptease. "Apparently, he has missed out on burlesque, poor guy," Gernand says. A few minutes of chit-chat followed: the weather, traffic, Houston's growth, and then the man left with his friend.
Gernand caught the bartender's eye and asked if the man was somebody.
"Arian Foster, number 23," the bartender replied.
"Which sport?" Gernand asked. ("I don't follow sports," she tells Houstonia. "That didn't mean anything to me.")
"The woman standing in line piped up, 'the Texans.'"
Gernand googled him, and sure enough it was Arian Foster, #23.
"Ashley and I chatted about how she studies him in a community college class, how I was good luck and should stick around, and about how this was going to be my most popular Facebook post ever."
And after duly posting "#23 from the Houston Texans sat next to me at the Pappacitos airport bar and bought me a Patron shot. I'm so ignorant, but we had fun!" it proved to be just that, or at least damn near it.