I was on the phone with Meemaw last week, trying to figure out the answer to the mystery of how my rent got paid, when I started getting a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I took the call and a woman’s voice said:
“Good morning…may I speak to Hunter Block, please?”
“Speaking,” I said. It sounded like an official voice, so I gave an official answer.
“This is Maya Bedrossian’s personal assistant.” Ok, talk about totally unexpected. Maya Bedrossian was a pretty dang hot young actress when I was growing up. Not quite hot enough to make you want a poster of her in your room, but hot enough to make you want to go to her movies. She still looks dang good today, to judge from how she looks on her reality show. (Hey…I’ve been stuck at home since March, and, yeah, I’ve been watching too much TV. But there’s a lot worse on than Maya Bedrossian’s reality show.) “Daphne Potter gave us your name. We understand you give baseball lessons.”
I’ve gotten kinda used to being called a ‘tutor’ – but I reckon giving baseball lessons is what I do. So I said yes.
“Maya has two sons and they need more exercise while schools are closed. Would you be interested in teaching them?”
“How old are they?” You get to see them on the reality show every now and then, but I didn’t know if I was watching recent episodes or not. The kids could be college age by this point for all I knew.
“11 and 9.”
I know that I can work on skills with boys who already know how to play the game. I didn’t know if I could start from scratch…and an 11 year old is a little old to be started off on T ball.
So I asked if they were into baseball.
“Yes and no,” said the woman on the phone. “One of them is…the other, not so much. What Maya wants mostly is someone to get the boys active. If they can pick up something about baseball along the way, so much the better.”
I could have said that I’m a baseball tutor pure and simple…but, on the other hand, even if some mysterious force paid my rent this month, I need the money. Big time. So I was in no position to say no, even if it did just mean watching a couple kids run around for an hour once or twice a week.
So I told the woman I was interested…and, yes, would like to discuss it in person.
The assistant said they lived in San Marino, gave me the address, and said I should come over at 5 that afternoon.
That sounded like a good development. I’ve wanted more pupils, but I haven’t been sure how to get them. It was awesome for Daphne to have recommended me and I took that to mean that Maya Bedrossian was one of Daphne’s clients. A client who shows that Daphne does dang good work: if I ever decide I need botox, I knew where I’m gonna go to get it lol.
In the meantime, I was back to the rent mystery. I called Joyce to tell her about the baseball development…and to ask her point blank if she was behind the rent.
“I?,” she asked – she always says ‘I’ at times like that, when most people would say ‘me’ – I think ‘I’ is right, but it sounds weird. “I didn’t do it. I’d have done it if you’d needed me to, but you didn’t say anything. Did you ask your family?”
“I asked Meemaw, and she said it wasn’t her.” (Or is that ‘she’ lol?) “And I can’t believe Dad would do something like that without telling me. He doesn’t even really know how hard up I’ve been this month…unless Meemaw told him.”
“What about your mother?”
“I don’t think so. She and Dad would get together on something like that.”
“Who else does that leave? Keaton?”
I was starting to think that maybe it was Keaton. In any case, it wasn’t Joyce and it wasn’t Meemaw. I reckoned it would be easier to ask Keaton face to face after he got home from work. I could tell him about my possible new pupils as well then too.
I had nothing to do until 5, so I just tried to stay cool without turning the air conditioning on. Finally it was time to drive over to San Marino and see what was in store for me there.
When I got to the address the woman gave me, I found something more like a mansion than a house, even by San Marino standards. It was set far back from the street with a wall around it and a gate with an intercom. It was definitely imposing, way more imposing than, say, Sabrina and Jonas’ house in South Pasadena, which just looks like a big normal house. This place was in a whole different league, but, then, Maya Bedrossian is a lot more famous these days than Jonas is.
I pushed the intercom button at the gate and, after telling a man’s voice who I was, got let in after getting told to park around the side of the house. I reckoned they didn’t like the idea of a shitbox sitting front and center in the driveway lol. Nobody told me to use the side door, though, so I walked around the front and rang the doorbell.
A woman answered. She was dressed in black uniform with a white apron and lace thingy in her hair. She looked like a maid from one of those British shows Joyce watches, except that she was latina…and she was wearing a white mask to go with the thing on her head.
She was also carrying one of those temperature gun things you see and she took my temperature without asking. I reckon I passed since she looked at me expectantly.
“I’m here to see Sandy,” I said. Sandy was the assistant’s name. “I have an appointment.”
“Muy bien, señor. You wait here and I go…”
She left me standing in the two-story entryway. On one side of me, in what I reckoned was the living room, a small film crew was packing up. I knew that the reality show was shooting again, even with COVID. They must just have finished filming a segment.
The housekeeper didn’t come back, but Sandy did…and Sandy was pretty much a fuckin 10. She had on a tight short dress and heels and looked like she’d just put on her eye makeup, even though it was the end of a hot day in the SGV. Blonde, curvy, beautiful pastel blue eyes…and that was without seeing most of her face. I got the feeling she was a 10 underneath her mask, too.
I was kinda staring…and then I realized she was kinda staring at me. It was too hot to dress up, even for a prospective client, so I was in a blue polo, shorts, Dodger hat and sneakers. I reckoned flip-flops would have been a little too casual, even though it was definitely flip-flop weather.
“I’m Sandy, we spoke on the phone,” she said. “You’re Hunter.”
“Yes…” I was about to say ‘ma’am’, but thought Sandy was probably close to my age, and I’ve found that not all Yankee women understand how calling a woman ‘ma’am’ is just a sign of respect and has nothing to do with how old she is.
And, ok, I probably wasn’t looking at her like someone I’d call ‘ma’am’ lol.
“You certainly are built like an athlete,” she said. Fair’s fair, and this was her chance to check me out. “Do all baseball players have legs like that?”
I blushed. Even if I’m used to getting compliments for my legs, I still blushed. For the first time in my mask-wearing life I was glad I had one on lol.
I didn’t really know what to say, so I just led her lead us into a room in the back of the house that Sandy said was her office. It was a very feminine room, with nice furniture and carpet and drapes, and nothing like a business office, except that there was a desk with a shit ton of papers on it. I reckoned that her boss gave Sandy a lot of responsibility…and a nice workspace to go with it. I’ve heard about people with personal assistants, but I always thought they went to the grocery for you and got the dry cleaning. It looked like Sandy’s job was a lot more important than that.
“As I was telling you on the phone,” Sandy said once she’d given me a comfortable chair to sit in, Maya has two sons. Jacob’s 11 and Matteo’s 9. They’re being home schooled by a private tutor during the COVID crisis, and they need some physical activity. Dr. Peterson – he’s the tutor – refuses to help with that. Maya had someone coming in over the summer, but he never was much more than a glorified babysitter, and never was any help with Matteo, who’s a very unathletic child. Maya wants the boys to be doing more organized physical activity, and Daphne Potter made it sound like you were good with kids. She told me that their boy looks up to you a lot.”
There I went, blushing again.
“Cody’s a great kid,” I said. “And awesome to work with. But he could do baseball activities from sun up to sun down. From what you’re saying, the boys here aren’t like that.”
“No, they aren’t,” said Sandy, very frankly, I thought. “Jacob loves all sports, including baseball. He was in little league back when they were having games, watches the Dodgers on TV, and has one of those big decals of what’s-his-name in his room – the really good young player.”
“Corey Seager?,” I asked.
“No…,” said Sandy, thinking. “Not Corey…another C name though.”
“That’s it.” I could deal with another Bellinger fan, I thought. Even if he isn’t batting too much more than .200 this year. “Jacob’s the reason we called you. The man we had working with the kids before didn’t know anything about baseball, and Jacob really wants to take advantage of COVID to improve his skills for when he can get back to playing in games.”
“That sounds fair.” And just like what I do. “What about the other…” I was about to say ‘kid’ and changed it to “child” in the nick of time.
Sandy took a long pause.
“I’ll be honest with you,” she finally said, “Matteo hates sports and is gonna be a problem for you just like he was a problem for your predecessor. He just wants to sit inside and read.”
I’ve known kids like that. We all have. While I don’t get a kid who totally hates all sports, I do think that kids shouldn’t be forced to play sports they suck at and probably hate as a result. I know Turner wasn’t very good at sports but still loved them…but he’s an exception. Shoshanah was always getting picked last, and I know how phys. ed. was always the lowpoint of her school day.
“Why not just let Matteo, I think you said, read and enjoy himself and not force him into something he doesn’t like?”
“Because Maya thinks everyone should be athletic. She’s always been into fitness – she wrote a book about it a few years ago – and now we’ve started a fitness and nutrition segment for the show. So having a sedentary kid doesn’t go with that. Your assignment – should you choose to accept it – is to make a better baseball player out of Jacob and get Matteo to get at least some exercise. It doesn’t have to be baseball…but it has to be something. Do you think you can manage that?”
I guess I hesitated.
“It’ll be twice a week for starters. More if you click with the boys. Here,” she said, writing down a number on a sticky note on her desk. I could read it upside-down. It was even more than Noah’s dad is paying me, which, if y’all remember, was already a lot.
“You’re making it hard to say no,” I said, thinking aloud.
I could tell she was smiling, even with her mask on.
“You’ll enjoy half the job at least, and maybe I’m making Matteo out to be a lot more difficult than he really is. He hates sports because he’s bad at them. If you got him so he’d be good at something, he might like it.”
“Is he an overweight kid?, “ I asked, since that’s what I was imagining. “I don’t remember what he looks like from the TV.”
“So you’ve seen the show?,” Sandy asked.
“A few episodes, but just a few. I’m not into reality shows in general.” I just have a lot of time on my hands these days and watch more TV than I probably should lol.
“Maya doesn’t want for the kids to be paraded across the TV, so she keeps them to a low profile on the show. Matteo’s been having an even lower profile than that lately, because, yeah, he’s kinda heavy and it doesn’t look good for American’s newest fitness guru to have an overweight son. But he’s not nearly as heavy as his parents make him out to be. They’ve got him seeing a dietician and are strictly limiting what he eats. I don’t want to talk out of school, but I don’t think they’re handling it right.”
“So no trips to get ice cream after we’ve finished working,” I said.
“Probably not,” said Sandy.
I was in no position to say no, so I said I’d try…pending an evaluation of both kids and me deciding whether I could actually help them. The younger brother was clearly not going to be my ideal baseball pupil, but, like Dad says, work is work…and work is something that I need pretty bad right now.
Even if my rent got mysteriously paid.
“When can I meet the boys? Are they here now?”
“Yes,” said Sandy, “but they’re having dinner.” She pulled what I think was one of several datebooks off her desk. “The boys are available tomorrow from 2 to 4. If that’s okay with you, you can come over and meet them then. The weather forecast is pretty hot, though…so don’t expect to get them to do too much. Maya worries a lot about dehydration.
“By the way,” Sandy then said, “this may sound weird, but I don’t like having a meeting with someone and not knowing what they look like…although Maya is very strict about masks, especially around the boys.” She took her mask off.
Yep. I was right. A total 10.
I took mine off too, feeling a little self-conscious.
She looked at me what I could tell was approvingly. Not like she was gonna jump me in her office approvingly, but, well, I could tell she was liking what she saw.
“You’re as handsome as I thought you’d be,” she said. Before I could blush, she added, “I caught your accent but I’m not sure I can place it. Where are you from?”
“Tennessee, ma’am,” I said. “Born and bred.”
“Do they make a lot of them like you down there?,” she asked, laughing and putting her mask back on.
“Some, I reckon,” I said, feeling like anything I said would be idiotic. I was just glad I kept myself from making a joke about being the prettiest boy in my class lol.
“I may not be here tomorrow,” Sandy said. “But Dr. Peterson will be expecting you. And, of course, I’ll see you around if you take the job. Maya keeps me jumping all over the house.”
We said good-bye and I got back into the shitbox and drove home. Keaton was in his apartment when I got there, so I called and asked if I could come over. I wanted to tell him about the Bedrossian job…and to ask him about the rent.