Baseball Makes Everything Better
“Time to shut it down if we want to make it to the game on time. And you know these New York boys, don’t let them miss a second of their Yankees.” Sylvia rushes me out of my office.
“Okay, okay, Nate should be downstairs.”
“Same with Charlie.”
“Oh, so I can’t call him Mr. Bungalow 8?”
“No, he is a bit sensitive about us. He thinks I am playing hard to get.”
“But you are.”
“Yes, but he doesn’t need to know that.”
On the ride to the stadium, the men managed to fill the air with all their excitement about seeing the Yankees versus the Red Sox. Sylvia manages to smile and nod and pretend to be interested. I, needless to say, suck at hiding the fact that my mind is elsewhere.
“Ok Boss, we are away from the office, get your head off the stress of the App launch.” Sylvia attempts to save me. Nate knows better. Charlie has no clue.
“Trust me, this game may prove more epic than your launch.” Charlie has no clue.
I pull my head out of my selfish ass and attempt to join in the excitement.
“I can’t believe this is my first time seeing the Yankees play the Red Sox ?” I put out there.
“Really? With a boyfriend that is that big of a Yankee’s fan?” Again, poor Charlie has no clue.
“Oh I am not her boyfriend and she has seen lots of games, just none versus the Red Sox.” Nate, always rescuing me.
For the first time, he not claiming to be my boyfriend hit me in a funny place. The other three don’t seem to notice and continue in their excitement. It’s nice to see Sylvia be the girl I know so well versus the woman that is “turning it on for the guy” that I see when we are out and a group of men join us. Maybe this Charlie brings out ease about herself. I am not sure if Sylvia’s alter ego around men is for protection or out of habit. Whichever, it’s nice to see it not exist tonight. She is so comfortable with Nate and Charlie tonight in conversation, unlike me.
My dad took me to a few SF Giants game over my childhood years, however, nothing compares to the mystique of Yankee Stadium. The energy of the players past and new and the fans is not like anywhere else I have ever been. Sylvia, who grew up watching Liverpool FC knows how to be a fan. Her enthusiasm is contagious. With hotdogs and beers in hand, we enjoy the game. Or at least I pretend to.
Thank the Gods Nate is sitting between Sylvia and me. That way Nate can carry on conversations with Charlie. The three of them laughed and cursed at the game as if they were a single body. I enjoy watching them interact then the game itself. Nate and Charlie both attempt to explain the game to Sylvia. I allow the ease and flow of the game to keep me calm and distracted. I can’t stop thinking about Jake, why didn’t he tell Joey about me?
“Thank you,” Nate whispers in my ears.
“There is no scenario at this moment on how I would afford these kinds of seats at any Yankees game, let alone one as epic as this. So, thank you.”
“Next time we bring your dad again, I love watching the two of you at a live game?”
“I would like that.”
Grateful that although everyone else is being weird about Nate and me, Nate is not. Just glad that he is back in his efforts to help Sylvia understand the game. Charlie seems a little jealous of the attention that Nate is giving Sylvia so he finishes his hot dog and puts his arms around Sylvia. How men don’t differ too much from dogs, marking territory. Nate is Nate, he can’t be bothered.
“Look, as a bouncer, all these privileged assholes think that they are better than me. At the end of the day, they don’t get into the club unless I tell them.”
Nate once told me when he was venting about some Wall Street assholes trying to get into Scores by belittling him and demanding to see the manager.
“I will never let any of those spoiled brats affect me.” And he doesn't.
Sometimes I wish I could be more like Nate, he may not have a lot of money, but he knows himself and his dreams. Although I just realized he has never shared his dreams with me. He says he doesn’t want to jinx it by saying it aloud. I am proud of him for having his dreams, so I don’t push.
I look admiringly at Sylvia, who sits very comfortably, sandwiched between two men, with the craft of being able to give both of them equal attention. This situation with Tommy and Jake has me a wreck, sandwiched between two men is not my preference. I may be an extremely sexual being, but one-on-one is my elected method of play. Then there is all my Catholic guilt, this is not acceptable behavior for a good Catholic girl.
“My turn to get beers and dogs,” Sylvia stands and announces.
“I’ll come help, plus they only give two beers per person.” Nate, always the gentleman.
After they leave I am grateful that Charlie is not the talkative kind. He stares straight ahead, intense in the game so I pretend to do the same.
“Nice boyfriend,” Nate teases Sylvia.
“I am sure every man in this stadium wishes.”
“Except for you?”
“What makes you think that?”
“We all know what prize your eyes are on.”
“Doesn’t mean I am blind, I can still admire the other prizes.”
“Well if you are planning on doing anything about winning the prize, you need to start fighting for her.”
“I am not getting into that wrestling match with those two other men. Valentina has said, over and over again, she wants space and time to figure things out. And I don’t know how I feel about you constantly encouraging this behavior.”
“What are you, our father?” Sylvia banters back. “There is no encouragement needed here. Those two men are grown and know exactly what they are doing. Val needs to toughen up and stand up for herself. This will either make her come into her own or drive her mad. Either way, we are here for her, although I still think you should fight harder versus just sitting in the stands. What are you going to do in the meantime? Just wait around to pick up the pieces.”
“Funny you should ask, I think I could use your help if you don’t mind. I have a bit of something that I am hoping to make happen and something tells me your brilliance and charm may help me in several ways.”
“Oh? I like the sound of this. Do tell.”
“Not now, it’s the Yankees, no shop talk during a game. Maybe we can get together for lunch to discuss?”
“I will have my office call you office.”
“Funny! Back to the game, it’s almost the 7th inning stretch.”
During the 7th inning stretch, we all stand to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, which finally shifts my mood as signing always does. Baseball is managing to distract me from all my “white-straight-girl” problems as Angel would put it. I am back to laughing and letting go. This is my favorite side of Valentina. The trick is to keep this side of me present through moments like these when I feel so deflated.
Yankees lost 1-3, but for the first time, I witnessed Nate just happy to have watched the game. Expecting him to be in a bad mood as he is usually when the Yankees lose, I am excited to see different.
“Where to from here gang! The night is young and Nate needs a drink!” Nate screams.
“I got a place,” Charlie is quick to add, eager to peacock.
Sylvia is excited not be be the one calling all the shots, I am in robot mode, so off we all go. We head down to the iLounge in Tribeca, where there is a great basement bar where we can dance all night long. And since Charlie knows the owner, Eileen, Silvia, and I are both allowed to dance on the bar. Now, this? This is my wheelhouse. I am in my element, dancing, and singing to the top of my lungs. All better thanks to baseball and bars.
“I have to say, Tommy is right, I can fall in love with this Val,” says Sylvia, excited that she finally gets to see let lose Val.
Nate is smiling up at us. From day one, he has loved watching me dance and I love dancing for him.
Oh Nate, if you would just take my out of friend zone and try me on for size. I know you would solve all my problems as you do.