A New Baseball Pupil (last part)

Noah Clarke is a 9th grader whose father wants me to tutor him the way I’ve been working with Lucas and Cody. I had a game of catch with Noah a few days ago and I’m afraid I wasn’t impressed. It’s not that the kid had no skills and was a total klutz (like Shoshanah would have said), it’s that his attitude sucked. So I wasn’t looking forward to taking him down to Chuy’s to see what he could do with a bat.

It was a Sunday afternoon, so there were some other customers at the cage, but it wasn’t like I was gonna need half an hour to work with Noah. I was just trying to find out if there was any sense in my working with him in the first place.

Chuy doesn’t open the car wash until after the family’s been to church, although when I got there with Noah, he, Eric and, to my surprise, Lucas were there.

“Abelito had a quinceañera to go to,” Lucas explained, “so I’m working an extra shift today.” I always get the feeling that there’s a lot of towel whipping involved if Lucas and Eric are working the car wash at the same time, but they seem to get the work done too. Chuy wouldn’t have Lucas there if he wasn’t willing to work. Personally I think it’s cool that Lucas has a job and that it’s not a rich kid’s job either. I wasn’t out to get him a part-time job in a car wash when I started working on his baseball with him…but it seems to be working out real well for everyone.

I wasn’t so sure that that was gonna be the case with Noah. I introduced him around and he didn’t seem too interested in anything or anyone. Maybe he’d have hit it off with Abelito, who’s his age…but probably not. At least not judging from how he was acting that day.

He only brought along one bat, and not even a pair of batting gloves. I’ve gone through phases about not wearing batting gloves, but, at Noah’s age, you’re better off learning to bat with them on. I got the feeling he didn’t bring them because he didn’t want to look for them in his room.

Nope. I wasn’t liking the kid.

“Headphones off,” I said. He was listening on them in the car on the drive down, but now he had them around his neck.

“They’re not on,” he answered.

“Hand ‘em over,” I said.

“What’s the point?”

“The point is I want to see what you can do with a bat and you can’t bat properly with bigass headphones around your neck.”

This being a teacher with authority act was totally new to me. I hoped I wasn’t showing fear, since the reality is I was pretty insecure about telling the kid what to do like that.

“Fine,” he said, taking the headphones off. “Be careful with them. They’re Boses.”

I reckoned I knew how to take care of a pair of headphones.

I got the ball machine turned on…and, like I figured, watched Noah let the first few go right past him.

“Wanna at least try and swing, man?”

“Oh. Ok.”

The boy’s swing isn’t terrible and he’s at least capable of making contact with the ball sometimes. He wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but he wasn’t totally klutzass either. I just didn’t like it that he wasn’t trying. I was used to pupils who couldn’t wait for us to get started and were all “oh…already?” when it was time to stop.

Noah clearly wasn’t going to be that kind of kid.

I took him back to his family’s house and had a talk with his dad. I was getting the feeling that Mr. Clarke cared a lot more about Noah’s baseball than Noah did. Mr. Clarke insisted that wasn’t the case, and would I at least take Noah on on a trial basis? That seemed ok to me, since, like I said, I wasn’t minding the money…and maybe Noah would turn out to be a cool kid after all and maybe he’d start going easy on the teenage attitude. It’s not so long ago that I was a teenager, so I kinda remember it…although Dad taught me never to be as sullen to an adult as Noah was being with me.

(Yeah…I know…it’s weird that I’m the adult, isn’t it?)

My schedule is filling up, so it looks like I’m going to have to work with Noah on weekends. I’ve got dancing on Monday, softball on Tuesday, Lucas on Wednesday and Cody usually on Friday…plus a whole new work schedule that I hope leaves me time for all those activities. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for Joyce or the Dodgers (I like to keep an eye on spring training games), but I reckon it’s better to be busy than having nothing to do.

It’s kinda exciting. I just gotta take Meemaw’s advice and pace myself. It’s definitely shaping up to be at least a 162 game season lol.

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