#baseballboy is Born (part 1)

Wednesdays are when I usually see Cody and Noah, but they both cancelled because of the NLCS. It only happens once a year…and I gotta admit that I wanted to see the game too. I’m glad I did. It made up in a big way for the way the team played in the first two games of the series.

The Dodgers made posteason history by scoring 11 runs in the 1st on Wednesday afternoon, so I was in a good mood when I drove over to Joyce’s after the game. Joyce wanted me over at her place because Wednesday night at 9 is when At Home with Maya is on, and Joyce wanted me to be there when she watched the show. It was a hot day, so she made us a salad she called a Shrimp Louis for cold supper, which we ate as we settled down to watch the show.

This was of course the episode in which I appeared by the pool in boardshorts and without my mask – which was partly a normal way to see me interacting with Jacob…and partly a way to show the audience what I looked like. I gotta admit that I was a little nervous about seeing myself shirtless on TV.

“Didn’t you get to see any of the film they shot?,” Joyce asked me while we were waiting for my part to come on.

“No. That’s how it works, apparently. I get no say in the matter. It all depends on what Ethan, Robert and Jean-François want. But I understand it’s a substantial segment. You see more of me than you did in the previous episode I was in.”

“We’re obviously going to be seeing a whole lot more of you than we did in the first episode. You had your shirt on in that one.”

“At least I talked them out of the spray tan.” I laughed, but I didn’t think threatening to spray tan me in Maya’s bathroom was funny. (On the other hand, Joyce did say she would have been interested in hearing what Maya Bedrossian’s bathroom looked like.)

When it did come on, I gotta admit that the segment with me and Jacob in the pool turned out pretty cool. Joyce said it was really ‘heartwarming’ to see the kind of rapport I had with Jacob and the kind of fun we had together once I got in the water. It was mostly just film of the two of us splashing around…plus, yes, both shots of me climbing out of the pool.

It turned out that there was more to the segment, though. After I sent Jacob upstairs, the cameras, without my knowing it, captured my conversation with Matteo. Luckily there were was no sound – I reckon they couldn’t have gotten the microphone to pick up what we were saying without our seeing them on their long sticks – so it just looked like I was having a nice conversation with the other brother. Joyce said it looked like I had an even nicer rapport with Matteo than I did with Jacob (I don’t feel that way, at least not yet), but I wasn’t too pleased with what the narrator said over the shot of me and Matteo: it turned it into a preview of coming attractions kind of thing, and promised a big reveal about something important to Maya’s younger son next week. I guess that’s how you keep people tuning in, but it felt a little like a betrayal. First it felt like a betrayal because Matteo and I thought we were having a private conversation. It also felt like a betrayal because I didn’t know I was being filmed, let alone being filmed in my board shorts.

But there wasn’t much I could do about it, and Joyce told me not to get upset. She said it looked very nice, that everyone who saw the segment would think how cool and sympathetic the boy’s baseball tutor was. Plus she said I killed it in the board shorts, and that’s not an expression she usually uses. I’m not sure how I killed it except by putting them on, but, well…look, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that knew I look good in a bathing suit..

I spent the night at Joyce’s, so I got up with her at 8:30. I was on my second baseball mug of coffee when I got a text from Sandy, asking me to stop by her office at 1:30, which is half an hour before I was scheduled to work with Jacob. (Tuesdays and Thursdays are Matteo’s gym days, so I work with Jacob outside and in the pool from 2 to 3:30, and then with Matteo from 3:30 to 4:30. That would get me home just in time for the ballgame at 5.)

“Do you think I’m in trouble?,” I asked Joyce. It’s always nerve-racking to get called into the boss’ office, even when you’re pretty sure you did nothing wrong.

“I’m sure it’s just about last night’s show. You’re probably an overnight Facebook sensation. Let’s go see.” Joyce picked up the kitty cat mug I bought her over the summer and went into the den, which is where the computer’s been since she started working on Zoom.

Joyce is active on Facebook, since she’s in a couple crafting groups, so she knows her way around it way way better than I do. (I don’t know why, but Facebook has just never interested me. Maybe it’s because of that bad experience I had when one of Shoshanah’s locker notes to me got broadcast on Facebook by Maryville High’s resident mean girl.)

“Yup,” Joyce said…and Joyce doesn’t usually say ‘yup’ or even ‘yeah’…”you’re famous. Look.”

She got up out of the desk chair to let me sit down. Maybe she thought I was gonna need it.

Maybe I did.

I’ll spare y’all the gory details, but suffice it to say that there was a whole lot of discussion on the At Home with Maya page about the boys’ baseball tutor…and how he looks in board shorts. I think I inadvertently hijacked the conversation about the show the night before, since, scanning through the comments, there seemed to be a lot more about me than there was about Maya or Robert or Maya’s mom, who reminds me a little of an Armenian version of Meemaw, and who, in the same show, gave a lesson in how to make shish kebab. I even had a new nickname. A couple people called me el guapo, but, as the comments unfolded, it became clear that my unofficial name was ‘Baseball Boy’…

…and that #baseballboy had become a thing overnight.

“It’s better than ‘gym teacher’,” Joyce said. “It’s at least got baseball in it.”

“Yeah…but why ‘boy’? Why not ‘guy’ or ‘dude’?”

“Because of those boyish good looks you know very well you have.”

“Are they really so boyish?”

“How often do you get called ‘pretty boy’?”

My girlfriend had a point. I may get called it less often than I did, say, five years ago, but y’all know I still get it…and not just when Keaton is giving me shit

Y’all also know that I don’t like it.

Joyce put her hands on my shoulders from behind and kissed the top of my head.

“It’ll be ok,” she said. “Andy Warhol said everyone had 15 minutes of fame coming to them…these may be your 15 minutes.”

“I always hoped I’d be famous as a shortstop…not as Hashtag Baseball Boy. I need more coffee. Are there any biscuits left?”

“At least you haven’t lost your appetite,” Joyce said, leading us back to the kitchen.

After I refilled my mug, I sat down, played with a biscuit, and said, “this is like what I was afraid of with Sabrina’s picture…of getting weirded out by having strangers be able to look at me. Only this…”

Joyce interrupted me. “Only this is a way bigger deal. You do realize that more people saw you shirtless last night than will ever see the portrait, right?”

I hadn’t realized that yet, because I was still figuring things out. But Joyce was right. I didn’t reckon that Sabrina’s painting was going to become famous like the Mona Lisa and everyone was going to know “Portrait of a Baseball Player”. And, even if they did, the Mona Lisa is famous for Da Vinci, not for Mona Lisa herself. I don’t reckon anyone knows who she is even, and I’ve told myself plenty of times that Sabrina’s painting wouldn’t make me famous.

On the other hand, the people commenting about me on TV were commenting about me. I was what everyone was looking at…not the painting.

I was feeling mighty uncomfortable, that’s all I can say.

“You may need to get used to it,” said Joyce, “and, finally, it’s positive attention. These people all like you. Did you see the one woman who posted ‘I didn’t know nice guys ever looked like that’?”

That made me feel a little better. But only a little.

“It’s mostly women?”

“From what I can tell. Do you want to go back and look? I’m sure plenty of gay guys watch the show…and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t miss you.”

Y’all know I don’t mind it when gay guys hit on me…but, for some reason, the idea that gay guys were part of what Joyce was already calling my ‘Facebook Fan Club’ was bothering me.

“Should I be passive-aggressive and not shave?,” I asked Joyce after finishing my coffee.

“Don’t do anything that will get you in trouble,” she said. “You still need the job. And, who knows?, maybe this will lead somewhere.”

“Like to a screen test or some gayass shit like that?”

“Exactly. You can do all the movies Zac Efron turns down.”

“That’s not funny.”

“Go shave,” she said.

So I did. Then I got into my shorts and a fresh tshirt and headed back to my place.

Where Keaton was waiting for me outside my door.

“You’re lucky I was here, bubba,” he said as I looked at him, a little puzzled. (He sometimes comes over for a cup of coffee on the mornings he goes into work late, so he knows when to expect me when I get back from Joyce’s.) “I had to chase away some of Baseball Boy’s adoring fans.”

“Fuck, not you too, man. Hold on…how do you even know? Do you even know how log on to Facebook?”

“Fuck no. Sloppy Joe called me. He’s addicted to that shit.”

“Fuck,” I mumbled.

“Get inside before the paparazzi get here,” Keaton said.

“C’mon man, it’s not that bad.”

“Oh yes it is,” Keaton said. “You’re fuckin viral, bubba.”

I got a text just then.

Sloppy Joe: “greetings baseball boy!”

Me: “next time I see you, I’m gonna hurt you.”

Then I felt bad and added an lol.

“You want coffee?,” I asked Keaton, opening the door.

“Sure, man.”

So we went inside and I told Keaton what I knew of the story and what they were writing about me on Facebook. While we were talking my phone rang. It was Mom, calling to let me know I was famous. Mom is big on Facebook. So’s Melanie Kate, and she was the next to call.

“What do you think Maya is going to think about her kids’ baseball tutor blowing up as a new internet sex symbol?” Melanie Kate watched the show, and keeps getting all excited about when I’ll finally get to meet Maya.

“I’m not a sex symbol,” I said.

“Oh yes you are, bubba,” said Keaton. I had the conversation on speaker.

“I hope she won’t be mad,” Melanie Kate said. “I read in a magazine somewhere that she likes to make sure that she’s the main attraction on the show…”

“She still is. The pool segment was, what?, a couple minutes of a 30 minute show?”

“It’s was over 3 minutes and its’ the part of the show everyone’s talking about,” my sister said. “Nobody cares about Mrs. Bedrossian and her shish kebab. Face it, big brother, you got famous overnight.”

“Enjoy it. It probably won’t last. You’ve got maybe 15 minutes,” Keaton said.

What was this 15 minute thing that everyone seems to know about?

“But I didn’t do anything!”

“Except climb out of a pool looking the way you do,” said Melanie Kate. “Friends from high school have been calling me all morning to say they couldn’t believe you still look that good.”

“Shit, I’ve got another call. Can I call you back, Melanie Kate?”

“Sure. If you’re not too famous to remember your own kinfolk.”

The other call was from Turner, who jumped in right away:

“May I please speak with Baseball Boy?”

“Fuck, man. Not you too.”

He laughed.

“It’s not that bad. You’ve only got 15 minutes of this coming to you” again, what’s the deal with the 15 minutes? “so you might as well enjoy it. Besides, it was only a matter of time before you got discovered out there. That is why you went to Hollywood in the first place, right?”

“In bubba’s defense, he didn’t go to Hollywood. He lives in Pasadena.”

“That Keaton?”

“Live and in person.”

“Hey, man. You gonna protect our boy from the paparazzi?”

I had a quick flash of panic. If there really were gonna be paparazzi, they were probably gonna want to find out about Joyce and all my other personal shit. No…that was getting ahead of myself. This would just settle down in a few days and that would be the end of it.

“…and you might as well laugh at it in the meantime,” I heard Turner say after I tuned back in. “Has Meemaw called you yet?,” he then asked. (Turner and Garner both call Meemaw Meemaw, since they met her when we were all younger than Matteo is now.)

“No, just Mom and Melanie Kate. Meemaw isn’t on Facebook, so she’ll have to hear it from Mom, probably.” I looked at my buddy in the room and my buddy on the phone. “What the fuck am I gonna do?”

“Find out how bad the damage is first,” Turner said, “although ‘bad’ is hardly the word. It may be nothing but a bunch of comments by a bunch of lonely chicks…”

“…and dudes…,” interrupted Keaton. Fuck him lol.

“…and dudes on Facebook and go no further. There was a big explosion of comments on the station’s Facebook page when we got in a super handsome new weatherman, but it didn’t last. People got used to him. That’ll probably happen with you. And, man, it may work to your advantage. You’re getting a shitload of free advertising…and, in case you haven’t noticed, could use a few more teaching gigs. You could become Baseball Boy to the Stars.”

“You left out the hashtag,” Keaton said.

“Please!,” I groaned.

“You’ll be ok, man,” Turner said. “Is it so much worse than a bunch of guys calling you “Heartthrob” in a locker room?”

Oh shit, I thought. Was someone gonna research my past and come up with my old nickname? I wasn’t ready for an entire Facebook community to call me Heartthrob. Baseball Boy was bad enough.

I finally got off the phone with Turner and Keaton went back to his apartment. I took a couple Tylenol and lay down until it was time to head over to the Sharpman house for my sessions with Jacob and Matteo…and my meeting with Sandy.

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