One time I said to a friend, "Sometimes people'll surprise you."
"No, they won't," he replied.
But here's some small evidence they can. It comes courtesy of last week's City Paper cover-photo and interview subject, author Sherrie Flick, via her role as co-curator of the Gist Street Reading Series.
The long-running monthly series regularly sells out, but its venue, the Uptown studio of sculptor James Simon, is pretty small, and many attendees are regulars. There was no reason to think last Friday's reading was much different -- until Anita showed up.
She was a woman in her late 50s, perhaps. She had short blondish hair and -- an anomaly at most literary readings -- she was armored in Steelers paraphrenalia. "Here We Go" pin on her vest. Steelers earrings. Everything but a helmet, apparently. (There are Stillers fans enough at Gist Street, but they seldom dress the fully merchandised part.)
What's more, reports Flick, Anita wasn't even local. She was from Florida, had come into town for Thursday night's home-opener, and stuck around for an extra day. Trolling the Web for something to do, she settled -- like any football fan on a Friday night would -- on a little literary reading featuring a poet and a journalist. (Bonus coincidence: The journalist was author Charles Leerhsen, who's also an executive editor at Sports Illustrated, likely another Gist Street first.)
What's more, Anita was staying in Coroapolis, with her sister, and didn't even have a car. Showing more initiative than many native Pittsburghers would, she'd taken the bus into town, and took it home after.
On her raffle ticket, she wrote: "Anita. Go Steelers!"
Flick adds: "She stayed and talked for quite a while with the readers after the reading. Clearly had a good time. In fact, she walked up and gave us an extra 5 dollars mid-way through. That's how much fun she was having."