[Fowler’s a bit of a pompous ass, but I managed to pull him out of his shell once the salsa started to work its magic. A tough interview, but one I'll remember for years to come.] Joe: What's up, Charles? Chris Fowler: The name is Chris, and I am enjoying the green chile. This place is the best. Joe: I think that guy behind the counter looks like Charles Woodson, you know, the guy that you voted to win the Heisman over Peyton Manning?
CF: That man's not Woodson.
Joe: You know, the guy with like one interception per year, and then you taunted Tennessee fans with that ass-hat look in your eye then you said, I created "trailer park frenzy"," then you smugly laughed it off. Way to go, Charles.
CF: The name is Chris. [he takes large bite of fajita, stares down at plate--is Woodson casing him?]
[Fowler plops the chicken back onto my styrofoam plate. He stands without a word and heads for the exit. He flips Woodson the finger as the bells on the door jingle.]
Later that evening, at a
CF: Sort of a pussy and he spits when he talks. But I guess he's OK. [pause] Well, I have to get back. I'm giving him the Notre Dame gonna win the BCS speech for tomorrow’s Gameday . Joe: I won't keep you. [Fowler starts back towards the register.] Hey, Charles? CF: [smiles] It’s Chris. [pauses] Please don't tell Herbie about the Lattes, he really rides my ass about all the carbs. [I give him the thumbs-up and he returns to the register.] Joe: You've won this round, Fowler.
Later that evening, I'm driving through some nighttime city streets in Atlanta in one of those new little cars that are somewhere between SUV and compact car and nearly always silver and aggressively marketed to young, upwardly mobile urban adventurers. A really catchy techno jam that will send the 18-34 crowd frantically Googling its origin is pounding on the Kenwood and my Uma Thurman-look-alike wife is lip-synching her heart out in the passenger seat and whom I brought with me to help break through the ESPN College Gameday security perimeter, I know Chris Fowler is a weak man and she can exploit his weakness to get me close for an interview. She's had some Zima so there's something definitely dangerous and reckless about her despite the outward flawless porcelain appearance.
After what seems like miles and miles of uninterrupted green lights in Buckhead, a red light finally slows us down. A black H2 rolls up on us, its tinted driver's-side window slides down. It's quite dramatic.
Craning my neck just a little bit, I can see his maternal grandmother-looking paramour Lou Holtz fiddling with the knobs on his stereo, mouthing to Fowler, “who's that?”
Like Fowler doesn't know. Like there isn't a black-and-white photograph of me on his vanity mirror with the eyes scratched out with the tip of a safety pin and clips of the transcripts of The Loser With Socks Blog on his huge oak desk and explicit instructions to his personal assistant to always, always forward my calls to his cell, even if he suspects I'm just going to flush the toilet and hang up on him and he's just going to smash his fist onto the craft services table and send a plate of cold cuts clattering loudly to the ESPN College Gameday sound stage floor.
Before I can utter a derisive "Granny” sidelong into the H2's window, Uma's hand comes down hard on my knee and the car lurches forward. If you believe the obnoxious advertising campaign, an H2's made to drive over things like abandoned bunkers and purse-size, floofy dogs rather than accelerate on a damp