So, Monday was the big day with the camera by the pool filming the “reveal” (that’s another of Sandy’s words) of what I look like without my mask. I felt pretty silly and gayass picking out boardshorts to wear on TV, but I just kept reminding myself work is work.
When I got to the house, me and Jacob spent half an hour on baseball, then it was time for us all to change and go over to the pool. Remember the Andrews cabana with the shower and room to change into your bathing suit? Ok…Maya’s got a whole fuckin pool house that looks like a miniature version of the main house. It’s got a living room and a bedroom and its own bigass bathroom with a mosaic bathtub. It looked like someplace you’d have a houseguest stay, not like a changing room for the baseball tutor. Still, Sandy told me I should use it, so that’s where I’ve been putting on my boardshorts and flip-flops.
I chose the black boardshorts with the colored bars and the turquoise waistband. I figured that the Southern baseball tutor in camo boardshorts might be going a little too far the first time lol.
By the time I finished changing, Ethan had arrived with the other three members of the crew – the cameraman, his assistant and the sound dude with the microphone on the long stick. I saw them all the time they filmed me doing baseball stuff with the boys so I should have been used to them…but it felt like a whole lot of people circled around me in my boardshorts.
“Is that as tan as he’s gonna be?,” the cameraman said.
I spent plenty of time this summer outside by the Andrews pool…so I’m about as tan as I ever get. I was about to say that any tanner than I am would be a sunburn, but I got interrupted by the cameraman’s assistant.
“Do you want me to take him upstairs?,” she asked the cameraman.
“You could. I think we have time. How long does it take?”
“Ten minutes tops. But he won’t be ready to get in the pool for a couple hours.”
“Well…he doesn’t have to get in the water. He can just stand around and look pretty and tell the kids what to do. So maybe you should…”
“Should what?,” I asked, a little abruptly. I was not liking being talked about as though I weren’t there.
“Spray tan,” said Ethan. “Maya has a capsule in her bathroom and we’re wondering whether we should stick you in it.”
I had these visions of turning out orange and looking like the President. I wasn’t getting no gayass spray tan.
I decided to speak up and said that.
“I wouldn’t change a thing about how he looks,” Ethan said, I think coming to my defense. “He’s the best looking guy we’ve had on the show in forever.”
“Is he keeping the cross on?,” the cameraman then asked, indicating the necklace Meemaw gave me when I turned 16. “It might…”
“I don’t take it off,” I said, I think with quite a bit of edge in my voice.
“Just relax,” Ethan said. “Don’t take what they say seriously. You look great. And plenty tan. The cross looks good on him too. This isn’t supposed to be Baywatch,” he told the cameraman. “How many push-ups can you do?,” he then asked, turning back to me.
“Um…30-35 maybe.” It seemed a super weirdass question.
“Good,” Ethan said. “Go for it.”
“The push-ups. Give me 30, like they say in the army.” He laughed at his lameass joke. I didn’t. “We just want you to look…you know…”
I reckon I did know, and I almost reckoned it made sense. The only problem is that it was over 90˚ and the deck was burning hot. Luckily I can knock out 30 push-ups pretty dang fast, so my hands didn’t fry too bad. It’d have been a lot less awkward if Ethan hadn’t been watching me, but he was. I read somewhere that they make actors do a mess of push-ups before they do shirtless scenes, so I decided it must be normal. What it felt like was gayass…but it’s not like I didn’t know why I was there.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t have the boys to worry about…and both of them made trouble when they got to the pool.
Jacob came downstairs in a robe over a bathing suit and in flip-flops. He dove into the pool at the deep end before anyone could say anything. I could tell the camera crew seriously didn’t appreciate getting splashed.
“What should I do, Hunter?,” he called, treading water in the deep end. Whoever taught the kid to swim did a great job.
I looked at Ethan, who shrugged. Suddenly I was in charge again, I reckoned.
“Just swim laps,” I said. “We’ll figure out what else you can do later.”
I knew that Jacob was good for at least ten laps.
“Are you gonna time me?”
“That’ll look great on film,” said Ethan. “Go for it.”
So I went for it, using the stopwatch I carried out with me after I changed. I have to admit that I wasn’t keeping a very close eye on it, though, because Matteo came downstairs next and set himself up to be a way bigger problem than his brother was when he got everyone wet.
The problem was this: he was still in his school clothes. Not even what we were calling ‘gym clothes’. School clothes. Leather shoes and all.
“Dude,” I asked, “where’s your bathing suit?”
“In my room. It doesn’t fit me anymore. I’m not getting into it and walking around so everyone can watch the fat kid in the pool.” Then he repeated his famous too grown-up line, “I don’t appear in a bathing suit in public.”
“It’s ok,” Ethan then said. “We’ll work around him.”
That was easy for Ethan to say. Unfortunately, my job was to get Matteo to have some exercise, and he almost agreed that he’d swim today. I even had a kickboard ready for him, just in case his swimming lessons from 4 or 5 years ago didn’t take.
“We’ll talk after the camera is gone,” I said. I certainly wasn’t going to embarrass Matteo by arguing with him in front of the television audience. Then I turned to Ethan and said, “can we just make it me and Jacob today?”
One of the cool and funny things about Jacob is that it’s hard to get him to stop. I discovered that the first day when I had him running sprints and he kept going even after I reckoned he’d be winded and need a rest. That was what was happening with him in the pool: yeah, I had the stopwatch going the whole time I was talking to Matteo, but Jacob was swimming the whole time, too.
“Ok, cowboy,” I said.
He stopped and looked up expectantly at me, after brushing his wet hair out of his face.
“How’d I do?”
I forgot to stop the stopwatch, so I had no idea.
“Good,” I said.
Remember: I had a camera on me as well as Jacob’s eyes.
“Dang good,” I said. “Catch your breath and we’ll try you in the breast stroke.” He has a good strong breast stroke to go with his freestyle. We’ve even started working on the butterfly. Jacob’s just a really good natural athlete. I’m sure he could play basketball too, although there wasn’t a basketball court on the Sharpman property, which was just as well. I didn’t want to have to start explaining lol.
Being filmed for a reality show is kinda annoying, actually. You’re supposed to do what you usually do as though the crew wasn’t there, but the crew is there and you’re obviously aware of it. What’s the thing in quantum physics that says that observing an experiment changes the outcome? Ok, quantum theory is something real smart that applies to reality shows, which are something real dumb: you can’t be spontaneous and natural when four people are trying to record your image and voice.
I was also dying to get into the water to cool off. So I jumped in and pulled myself out…right with the camera facing me. In other words, there was now a shot of Hunter climbing out of the pool. That made me remember the effect of seeing me climbing out the pool had on Allan, and something cynical in me told me that the camera people had what they wanted. (I feel too cynical to put lol after that lol.)
Anyway, once I cooled off we got back to Jacob, who swam two laps in the breast stroke while I timed him. I remembered his personal best time…and he didn’t come close to it. Remember quantum theory lol.
“Race me, Hunter!,” he called out next.
I never say no to water, so I got into the pool, making a point of showing how we could stay 6’ apart while swimming. It wasn’t all that hard in a pool that size.
“Are you gonna let him win?,” Ethan asked from behind the camera.
“Nope,” I said. I know y’all may think it sucks of me, but I’m no good at letting the other dude win at anything. It’s way too obvious when I try, and then it’s no fun for anyone anyway. I can’t pull a punch, either. Dad always says it’s because I’ve got too strong a competitive instinct…even if all that’s involved is beating an 11 year old at swimming.
I put Ethan in charge of yelling “go!” and we were off: four laps, two freestyle and two breast stroke. Ok, while it’s true that I didn’t let Jacob win, I did put on the brakes once so he had a chance to catch up a little. He’s already pretty fast, though…so it’s not like I can beat him with both hands tied behind my back.
You actually do swim better when you have someone to compete with in the pool, so there was a reason to get me in the water. Jacob was pretty winded when he pulled in a half a length of the pool behind me. I let him catch his breath…and then I dunked his head under the water. It’s the kind of thing you do with a kid when you’re the grown-up in the pool, and, yeah, Jacob loved it. Then we chased each other around the pool some, and then Ethan threw a ball at us. We’d never done anything with a ball in the water before, but we started throwing it back and forth some and chasing after it when we missed it. It wasn’t exactly organized athletics at that point, it was just me having fun in the water with a kid.
Eventually it was time to stop because I still had to work with Matteo that afternoon. They got another shot of me climbing out of the pool and kept the camera on me while I was toweling off.
“That was great, Hunter,” Ethan said. “We got tons of great stuff. The audience is gonna love you.”
All I could think to say to that was “um…good”…so I said “um…good.”
Then the crew packed up, Jacob headed upstairs…and I confronted Matteo, who was reading a book on one of the pool chairs.