On a Monday in early June, I got a text from my cousin, asking me to come to downtown Cincinnati the next day because he "really needed me to meet someone."
I said, "Yes," because my mom and I were hiking near the city, and we could easily drive to his downtown store to meet with him.
I thought about the possibilities of the special guest.
My cousin didn't give me any information about the person I was going to meet. All he said was I was meeting someone, and I needed to bring a pen and a pad of paper.
I had a feeling it was going to be Cody.
Cody Reed is my favorite Major League Baseball player. He had been since last summer.
It just made sense. Cody was sent to the minor leagues after Memorial Day, and the major league team, the Cincinnati Reds, was in St. Louis for an away series with the Cardinals. The only minor league player I've expressed my admiration for was Cody, but I didn't want to get my hopes up, so I shook off the thought and continued walking.
I felt hungry and begged my mom for food after our walk. We got a chicken salad croissant sandwich and a side of chips to go from the Cincinnati Art Museum and ate in the car on the way to my cousin's store.
When we arrived, my cousin directed my mom and I over to the Sleepy Bee Cafe for lunch.
Oops! I guess we shouldn't have eaten that sandwich and chips.
I was confused because it took a while to get a table, but I went with it. Once we sat down, my cousin apologized for the specificity of the table.
He said, "Our special guest has an injured leg," as he glanced in my direction to see if I got the hint.
I got it. Cody had hurt his knee just a few days earlier.
And that was the moment I realized I was about to have lunch with Cody Reed, the guy I followed around for six hours at Redsfest, an annual festival for Cincinnati baseball fans.
I freaked out.
I texted my dad, "I'M ABOUT TO HAVE LUNCH WITH CODY REED," to which he replied, "Whaaa?"
Two minutes later, a very tall, broad-shouldered man on crutches entered the restaurant.
My cousin told me to start thinking of questions. I was nervous and very shy at first. I was caught off-guard, but I loosened up as the conversation kept going.
My cousin and my mom helped me come up with questions to ask him.
Cody ordered a big meal with a coffee, but I ordered a small fruit cup since I ate beforehand.
We sat at the table for about two hours, talking about baseball, life, and other things.
He explained his close relationship with his mom and what it was like growing up without a father figure, as he was raised by his mom and older sister.
He also explained the business aspect of baseball and how this season might be his last with the Reds due to running out of minor-league options.
Cody and I hit it off and found some commonalities. We are both left-handed and even have the same favorite cereal: Frosted Flakes.
Cody was a very humble and down-to-earth guy, and I really enjoyed talking to him for more than the typical five seconds fans get when meeting their favorite athletes.
At the end of lunch, Cody gifted me a signed baseball, and we took some pictures.
We exchanged contact information and hugged.
And now, it is the coolest thing to say I had lunch with a professional baseball player. I even have his phone number.