The Parrots got together at Josh’s house for a cookout earlier this week. Josh’s wife was away visiting her family, so he had the place to himself, making it the perfect time to have the guys over for steaks, beer and cigars.
8 out of the 10 Parrots were there. Even Adam came. The only two guys who couldn’t make it were Chris (I’ll remind y’all that he plays left-center) and our pitcher, who’s an awesome pitcher and devoted to the team, but who doesn’t hang out with us off the field. I reckon that may be a cultural thing, since he’s Indian and Indians aren’t as outgoing as a bunch of young American guys who’ve had a couple beers. That’s cool…and, like Meemaw says, to each his own. Even if he doesn’t like to socialize with us, he’s a real nice guy and a big asset to the team on the field.
As for why Chris couldn’t make it, his girlfriend has been getting super possessive lately, and she made other plans for him that night. He’s even been having trouble getting away for games.
The rest of us were there: me, Keaton, Adam, Sloppy Joe, David, Travis and Trey.
Josh has a nice house in Altadena. Nothing like the spread in San Marino that Trey’s parents have, let alone Justen’s palace up in Santa Barbara, just a nice normal house for a normal dude and his wife with room for a kid when they decide to have one. There’s no pool, but the backyard is big enough for ten softball players with plenty of room for a dog to run around. (Josh and his wife have a dachshund named Brunhilda, and, man, does she run around. She’s cool, though: the kind of dog who knows she’s a dog and doesn’t get treated like a child.)
In addition to us 8 Parrots there was one ringer, too: Travis’ older brother, Dylan. Dylan and Josh have been friends since little league, and it’s because of Dylan that Travis and his best buddy Trey got to join the team. (Maybe I need to explain that Dylan and Josh are a lot older than Travis. They’re 32; Travis turned 20 a couple weeks ago.)
Josh takes his grilling super seriously, and he makes a great steak. He even knows how to make one as rare as I like. Potatoes done on the coals are always great, too. For dessert there were four flavors of ice cream from the Kroger, including strawberry. (The whole team knows what my favorite flavor is lol.) Of course there was plenty of beer, both Modelo Especial and some Molson…and a couple kinds of coke for Travis (who’s too young to drink) and Adam (who’s sober.)
Sloppy Joe brought along a box of cigars…and there wasn’t a single thing all night for Keaton to call gay. That must be some kind of record lol.
Josh made one rule: no talking about politics. That was just fine for both me and Keaton, since, like I’ve told y’all before, our politics aren’t typical for California. I’m not even sure what most of the other guys’ politics are. That’s except for the two young guys. They’re in school…and they like to get worked up over shit.
So no politics.
On the other hand, we did talk about me having my picture painted. Adam spilled the beans on that, so I got the shit I knew I had coming to me. (I’m not sure how Adam knew, though, since it was supposed to be a secret. I reckon Joyce told Allan and Allan told Adam.) I don’t mind that the Parrots know I’m sitting for Sabrina. They’re not like that grossass Lord Malcolm in Santa Barbara. Some of them even heard of Sabrina. So I got some shit for being a pretty boy, and I reckon that’s the end of it.
In addition to blowing it about me and Sabrina, Adam told some funny stories about the rich bitch’s house he and Allan are doing. Not about the actual decorating (that would have been super gay lol), but about the woman and the shit she was putting him and Allan through. She keeps changing her mind, mostly because she doesn’t know what she wants. They already ripped out the whole kitchen once and one of the bathrooms twice. She also barely speaks English (that may be one of the problems), and Adam does a hilarious imitation of her Russian accent.
Even funnier was the story Josh and Dylan told about the time they’d lost a bet and had to go out in drag one night. They had to bring in Dylan’s girlfriend to do their makeup…and the part I liked best was that they used softballs to fill out their bras.
After were done laughing, Josh got up to get another beer. When he came back, he asked me a good question y’all may have been wondering about for a while: what do I plan to do with my life?
Dad hasn’t said anything yet, but I know he’s close to telling me I can’t go on initialing returns at the Gap for the rest of my life. I started working there because I came to a new city to start over after my pro career didn’t turn out as I hoped it would. Until then, my plan ever since I was in little league was to be a ball player, and, as things turned out, I came pretty close. So I came to California and needed time to get used to not being a ball player. That’s how I got started at the Gap, and, yeah, I’ll admit it, the Gap has gotten comfortable. But it wasn’t ever intended to be a permanent solution. I reckon Josh was wondering why I’ve lasted there as long as I have.
“So, if it’s not tshirts, what is it that you want to do?,” Josh asked.
I don’t think he wanted to put me on the spot…but that’s kinda how it felt. I needed a big swallow of beer before I answered.
“You must have had a plan B – you couldn’t be sure you were gonna make it as a ball player,” said Sloppy Joe.
“Out with it, bubba.”
Keaton knew a little about my plans, but not a lot. I haven’t discussed them with anybody in a long time.
“Y’all are gonna make fun of it, but I majored in Leisure Studies at MTU. Yeah, yeah…sounds like the kinda bullshit degree a jock would get…but it wasn’t like that.” (Don’t forget my English minor either lol.)
“What’s Leisure Studies?,” Josh asked.
“We studied what people do when they’re not working. Recreation, sports, vacations, hotels, and a lot of other shit too. But it was the hotel thing that most interested me.”
“Hotel management?,” asked Dylan.
“Yeah…kinda…although that’s only a part of it. Ok y’all…promise not to laugh. This is serious shit.”
“Don’t worry, bubba. I’ll punch the first motherfucker who laughs. Unless it’s me.” Y’all can guess who said that.
“Ok…so what I’ve been thinking about doing – this is in the long run, of course – is opening a baseball resort. It’d be like a hotel with all kinds of facilities for playing ball…”
“Kinda like baseball camp for adults?,” asked Sloppy Joe.
“Yeah…kinda…only a whole lot nicer, with workout facilities and a swimming pool, maybe a spa, three different restaurants…a couple lounges including a sports bar and one for cigars and fancyass scotches…”
“Sounds pretty high end,” said Josh.
“That’s the point,” I explained. “You want to market your business to people who have money. There must be a lot of rich baseball fans who want to get away from their wives for a few days and imagine they’re back in their playing days.”
“No girls allowed?” That was Josh again.
“Sure, you can bring your wife. That’s why we have the spa. We’ll definitely have kids’ activities and games in the summers.”
“You’ve got this thing pretty well thought out,” said Adam. He sounded surprised. Maybe I don’t blame him.
“I had to put the whole idea together for a senior project. There are even drawings and shit to go with it. Wow…I can’t believe I’m talking about this. Does it sound totally lameass?”
“Hell no,” said Josh. “Sign me up.”
“Ok,” said Keaton, “anybody got an idea better than selling tshirts to get bubba on his way?”
“Maybe you should get a job in a hotel?,” suggested Trey. I didn’t realize that he and Travis were listening. “You could learn the business. At least that part of the business. You already know the baseball business. You’re even learning to be a coach working with that kid.”
I needed another beer. So I got one.
I also had no idea how you got a job in a hotel. I did think that my degree might help me in that, though. If people out here knew that there was such a thing as Leisure Studies.
“You should have told us about this a long time ago,” said Adam. “Allan and I know the general manager of the L*****.”
“Pretty fancyass place,” said Sloppy Joe.
“No sense getting a job in a motel on Colorado if you want to learn about deluxe hotels,” said Adam. “Does Joyce know about this? You know I think she wanted us to give you a job. Allan would have loved that.” Adam laughed the way he usually does when talking about Allan’s thing for me. “But that would have been totally super gay,” he added, beating Keaton to the punch.
Joyce has asked me about my future, but I’ve avoided answering. Don’t get me wrong: I like my baseball resort idea. I just don’t want anyone laughing at it. I may not seem like the kind of guy who’d give something like that serious thought…but I’ve given my idea some serious thought. A lot of it.
“Email me your resume and I’ll pass it on to Dan. I can’t promise anything, but there’s no harm asking.”
“If the dude is gay don’t forget to mention what bubba looks like. He’ll look damn good behind a hotel front desk.”
Everyone laughed, including me…although I blushed some, too. Keaton doesn’t usually give me shit about my looks. “That’s the gayest thing I’ve ever heard you say. Don’t turn into another Allan on me.”
“Where’s the fuckin lighter?,” Keaton growled.
So there it was, out in front of all the Parrots. They knew about my baseball resort idea…and none of them had made fun of it. So maybe it is a good idea. Long term, of course. For the moment…
For the moment I really do need to get out of the Gap soon. I knew Adam as going to pass my stuff along to the dude at the L******, but thinking about that made me a little nervous. Change is scary. Meemaw once told me that thinking about change is even scarier – and I reckon that’s what that conversation at Josh’s started me doing.
I needed another beer after that. That and the rest of my cigar got me to stop worrying about possible change for a while, and I had a good time for the rest of the night. The Parrots really are an awesome bunch of guys. Even if I learned last weekend that I’d rather play baseball than softball, I definitely wouldn’t want to give up playing and hanging out with these guys.
Keaton and I split the uber we took – my place was on the way to Keaton’s, so I got out first. But we had time to talk before I was home.
“So that’s your secret master plan, bubba?”
“You know you could have told me about it sooner. I wouldn’t have laughed. It’s a fuckin good idea.”
“You really think so?”
“Fuck yeah. You’re not gonna start building it tomorrow, but you gotta have a goal in life. I’m glad you got one that’s not selling tshirts and having gay dudes hit on you in the store.”
I was a little buzzed from the beer or I might not have asked my next question.
“So what’s your goal, man.”
“You’re home, bubba. Give me 5 bucks and we’ll call it even.”
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