Me and Joyce had a great Thanksgiving dinner at Adam and Allan’s. Among the guests was one of those families with ‘two mommies’, Daphne and Simone, and their 8 year old kid, Cody, who is totally baseball crazy. I promised I’d go over to play catch with Cody one day soon, but Joyce had other plans for us.
“Were you serious about getting Daphne and Simone to pay me for working with Cody?,” I asked Joyce in the car.
“Definitely,” she said. “You may not see it…but you’ve got the beginnings of a business already with Lucas. One which, I might add, pays you more than the Gap does.”
That was true. I haven’t told y’all what Mr. and Mrs. Andrews are paying me for an hour of my time with Lucas, but it’s several times what I make at the store.
“And aren’t there some friends of Lucas’ who were interested in hiring you?”
“This could be your first step to being a Major League coach,” said Joyce.
“You mean manager,” I said with a laugh. “You always get them mixed up.
“I’ll think about it. But my first game of catch with Cody is on me. I promised. Besides, he may be hopeless.”
“Daphne says he’s very talented.”
“Yeah…he seems to think that too. I already warned him about getting too carried away with how good he is. Look where that attitude got the Dodgers. You know, maybe I should have offered to go over and throw a football around with Ethan some too.”
“You see Adam every week. You can suggest it to him. I just hope Ethan won’t be too rough on you,” Joyce added with a laugh.
“You didn’t see me at the turkey bowl this morning.” I laughed. “It was so great seeing the New Ethan, don’t you think?” Joyce nodded. “What was it like sitting next to Leslie?”
“She seems ok enough, I guess. Daphne tried to sell us both on botox.”
“You’re not getting botox,” I said, before that could go any further. “You don’t need it.”
“Leslie thinks she does. She was very interested in what Daphne had to say.”
“She’s a hypochondriac. I’m sure they haven’t cured her completely. Although at least botox won’t hurt Ethan. She seemed real…” I wasn’t sure of the word, so I tried “subdued.”
“Yeah, she was,” said Joyce, “but she opened up as dinner went on. She even talked about her situation. Not about the Munchausen’s per se, but about the social workers and court and all of that. Simone’s a social worker, so Daphne was a little interested in hearing that part of the story. It seems that the state’s attorney was dead set on putting her in a long-term mental facility or even in jail and putting Ethan into foster care.”
“Why didn’t they just want to leave Ethan with Thom?,” I asked.
“I think because he let Leslie have her way with the boy,” Joyce said. “It took a lot of very expensive lawyers to get the present arrangement, which is costing them a fortune. Thom and Leslie have to pay for a full-time nurse, but it keeps Leslie at home and out of jail. The irony is that it was really all Thom’s doing. He certainly has grown a pair, as you’d say.”
“He’s grown as much as Ethan has,” I said, “and not just because they can talk about football. It would have been a real shame if they’d taken Ethan away from him. He has all the makings of a good dad.”
“And Leslie did get him that extra piece of pie…so she’s still got a little power in the house, which is as it should be,” said my girlfriend, who’s sometimes a feminist and sometimes not.
“You want to come in or head home?,” Joyce asked when I pulled the car into the garage next to my temporary workshop.
“I have to get up early. It’s Black Friday, remember. Some of us don’t have it as a day off. And I may stop by Keaton’s for a beer. I could use one after all that talking. He didn’t want to go, but he does want to hear what’s happened with Leslie and Thom.”
“Sure. I’ve got a little bit of a headache from all the talking too,” she said, touching her forehead. “But we’re on for Saturday?”
“Heck yeah,” I said. We already had tickets for Frozen II.
I gave Joyce a kiss, heard MooMoo and NumNums charge the door from the other side and climbed into the shitbox. Keaton knew I was coming by after dinner was over, but I still called to tell him I was on my way. Getting into practice for the way things will be when we’re neighbors lol.
He had a beer open and ready for me when I got through the door. I gulped down half of it before I even said anything.
“Not at all,” I said. “It’s just hard getting through that much talking with nothing stronger than sparkling apple cider.”
I took the beer to the bean bag, and sat down. Keaton muted Sports Center.
“I don’t need the sound,” he said. “I already know I made five hundred bucks.”
“Dang,” I said. I gotta admit sports betting sounds like a good thing when your buddies tell you that they’ve made a lot of money.
“So how was Mrs. Munchausen?”
“Totally changed,” I said, telling him how Leslie looked and what Joyce told me about the situation.
“Sounds like they’ve got her drugged,” said Keaton. “Probably Klonopin or another benzo. I’m sure they put her on something to help with the compulsivity, like you can really medicate for that. So she’s probably on an SSRI too. Of course, if the SSRI were working so well they wouldn’t have her on so much Klonopin…”
“How do you know all that shit?,” I asked, confused.
“I used to work for drug dealers, remember? The people I worked for were responsible for all the illicit benzos in BeNeLux. That’s Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg, bubba. So she’s no longer under house arrest?”
“No. Her sentence was up a couple weeks ago.”
“I think it’s pretty weird that they allowed her to stay with them at all,” said Keaton. “But I guess you can get whatever you want if you spend enough money on lawyers.”
“Yeah…but a kid needs a mother.”
“Even a mother that gives her kid arsenic?”
“The nurse looked totally on the ball and I’m sure she keeps a close eye on her. And you should have seen the dad.”
“Still lookin for his balls?”
“Nope. He’s found ‘em. He even got them a TV at home. He and the kid were watching football. Ethan’s a Cowboys fan and wants to play center when he grows up.”
“They don’t let you play center if you’re malnourished by your fucked in the head mother…”
“He’s making up for that. You should see how the kid eats. He looks like he could block his way past any boy his age. He thought the turkey bowl sounded awesome.”
“It was,” said Keaton, with a laugh. “That’s the best news I’ve heard about them. I’m glad. That Munchausen’s by proxy thing is so totally fucked up: although it’s the mother who’s fucked in the head, the kid’s the one who suffers. But kids bounce back fast. They’ll have him playing football by this time next year. He’ll be 8, right? That’s how old I was when I started.”
“I was too busy with little league at that age to think about football.”
“I’d say that made a wuss outta you, but I saw you on the field this morning.”
“Thanks, man.” I figured that was a compliment. “And I met a kid who was baseball crazy. It sucked that we couldn’t play catch or anything in the rain today…so I told him we’d do it some other time.”
“That’s what Joyce wants,” I said. “We’ll see. Let me play catch with him first.”
“Who’s the kid?,” Keaton asked, getting up. “You want a piece of pie? It’s Trader Joe’s and yeah I’ve got ice cream to go with it.”
“Sure,” I said, about the pie. “The kid belongs to one of those – don’t get all grossed out on me – ‘two mommy’ families. One of the moms is the kid’s actual mom. I’m not totally sure, but I think the other mom may be pregnant now. They didn’t go into it and I wasn’t about to ask. But she kinda looked it.” I didn’t mention that earlier on…or say it to Joyce…so it’s just a guess…but I think Daphne is expecting. So Cody may be in for another sports crazy brother in a few months.
“Who’s the dad? Some gay dude?”
“I think he is. They said he was super artistic…and they got a jock for a kid.”
We both laughed at that.
Keaton brought my pie and a second beer. I got a look at the time and consumed them pretty quickly.
“So it was a lot better than last year?”
“Heck yeah. You should have come. We even had tamales.”
“Adam made tamales??”
“No, the sister’s nurse brought them. She was kinda like one of the family. I didn’t know if she was gonna eat in the kitchen or something when I first heard she was coming. She was more dressed up for the occasion than Leslie was.”
“And was there a sweet potato pie for Allan’s favorite pretty boy?”
“Yeah, but he didn’t make a big deal about it this year. He’s calmed down a lot when I’m around. You can tell he still has a huge crush on me, but it’s more under control. I’m not even sure that Cody’s moms” (Keaton winced a little there) “noticed.”
“That’s a step in the right direction. I think Adam was getting tired with Allan’s obsession with you. Not that it’s your fault, pretty boy.”
“Just remember what happened to the last person who called me that today.”
Keaton didn’t exactly look scared by that. Not that I expected him to.
“Fuck, man,” I said, looking at my watch, “it’s getting late, and I have to be in the store by 8:30. We’re opening at 9:00 tomorrow. Which sucks. And don’t you have to get started packing?”
“I’m headed out to the box store up on Colorado tomorrow. But I’m going to have the movers do most of the packing. They know what they’re doing and how to keep shit from breaking. Go get some sleep, bubba. You want another beer for when you get home? I’m trying to drink up what I’ve got here.”
“Sure,” I said, although I didn’t drink the beer when I got back to my apartment. I got out of the car and realized how tired I was. I know I’m only 27, but my body’s not used to hours of rough active football in the rain. I was in bed as soon as I could put on my pajamas and brush my teeth.
And fuck was I sore the next morning. Just about everywhere. Knowing you gave as good as you got does nothing to make turkey bowl bruises hurt any less lol.