While I was compiling my cast of characters a lot of shit has happened real fast, so I’m gonna try and catch y’all up on it.
Maya has all of us tested for COVID every two weeks. She’s worried about the boys (of course), she’s worried about her mother (who’s getting up there in years), and she wants to set a good example for the viewers about being tested and staying responsible where the virus is concerned. She’s also genuinely worried about everyone who comes onto the property, which means that everybody – including the gardeners and the pool man – have to show up on the morning the nurse comes for testing. It’s a pain in the neck, since the nurse always comes at 10, which isn’t when I’m usually there…but I see Maya’s point.
And I reckon it’s a good thing to know you don’t have the virus.
The test isn’t pleasant: they shove a qtip up your nose all the way to your brain so they can get some cerebral fluid on it. Ok, maybe not up that far, but they do stick it up there and twirl it around. They used to do it only on one nostril, but the new company Maya is now using for testing sticks the swab up both nostrils, for 10 seconds each.
Everyone has always tested negative…until the latest bunch of results came back early this past Monday…and Dr. Peterson turned up positive.
Maybe y’all can imagine the crisis that created.
And y’all can also probably imagine the immediate problem that resulted: with Dr. Peterson out of the picture for 14 days at least, who was gonna take care of the boys?
“Can you do it?,” Sandy asked me when she was telling me all of this in her office on Monday afternoon.
“I’ve got a lot of free time,” I said, “except when I work with Cody and Noah. And Lucas is back, and I’d like to see him…but I probably have to curtail a lot of that with the new safer at home order.”’
“Yeah,” Sandy said, “that’s the thing.”
For those of y’all who don’t live in Los Angeles County or California, they issued a new safer at home order, which limits capacity at stores, closed down restaurants (even for outdoor dining), and tells everyone, especially those with complicating conditions, to stay home whenever possible. Oh yeah, there’s a nighttime curfew as well, I think from 10 at night to 5 in the morning.
There’s also a directive that you shouldn’t have any social contact with people who aren’t part of your household. Y’all know that we decided that me, Joyce and Keaton make up one household…but that wouldn’t include, for example, Lucas. It probably doesn’t include Cody and Noah, either, although I did work with all of them during the last quarantine. Exceptions are made for essential workers, and, up until Dr. Peterson’s positive test, Maya has always gone along with the idea and me and him, as teachers, are essential workers.
With Dr. Peterson having the virus, though, Maya wants to get stricter. And someone needs to look after the boys in their tutor’s absence. But she doesn’t want anyone around them who’s not part of the household…
The solution she came up with is:
“We’d like you to move in…and that way you’d be part of the household. We know your test came back negative, so it should be safe having you around the boys.”
At least that’s how Maya put it when she joined me and Sandy in Sandy’s office this afternoon.
“You can stay in the pool house,” she continued, “which you know is very comfortable. The idea is that we’re going to be in a bubble, like for the World Series.”
I was surprised that Maya knew that much about baseball, although I did see her wear a Dodgers shirt on camera once.
I didn’t know what to say.
“I know it’s a lot to ask,” Maya continued, “but it shouldn’t be for too long. Only for 3 weeks, until the spike is over and Dr. Peterson can come back to work.”
“What about Christmas?,” was the first question I thought to ask. It’s not much more than 3 weeks away, and I really want to spend it with my girlfriend, my best buddy and Mrs. LaSalle.
“Let’s hope the worst will be over by then. You can decorate the pool house, if you like…that should make it a little festive. We’ll even get you a little tree that the boys can help you decorate. And then we’ll see if it’s safe for you to go spend the holiday with your family.”
“My family’s back in Tennessee, ma’am, but I have close friends here I want to spend the holiday with.”
“Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said, flashing her incredible movie star smile. I think she did it on purpose. It also made me aware of that perfume she wears that has such an effect on me. “Let’s say it’ll be until the 24th, that’s…”
“25,” Sandy interjected.
“That’s 25 days from today. 3½ weeks isn’t too long, is it? You’ll be comfortable and well taken care of. Belen and I are both good cooks, so there’ll be plenty to eat. And you don’t have to worry about our Christmas: we celebrate Armenian Christmas on January 6th. So December 25th is kind of a normal day around here.”
That was the most intelligent thing I can say.
“Of course we’ll pay you,” she said. “First thing off is we’ll cover the rent on your apartment since you won’t be living in it. Then…” Sandy handed her a notepad automatically and Maya wrote something. “….how about this much a week?”
Ok, “this much” made me gasp when I saw the number. It did mean that I wouldn’t be able to see Joyce or Keaton for 3½ weeks, which was gonna suck, but, as y’all know, I can seriously use the money.
Maya and Sandy were looking at me very expectantly…
…and I said yes, I’d do it.
“Wonderful,” Maya said. “You should go home and pack up what you need and come back as soon as you can, involving yourself with as few people as possible. We are going to keep shooting the show, but on a reduced scale and only things that are happening in the house. Sandy, Ethan and a two-person crew are moving in as well. So be sure you have clothes for when you’re on the show.”
“That’ll be all you need,” Sandy said, indicating my work outfit. “You can wear basketball shorts all the time here. You already do.”
It was all happening a little fast…and I reckon I was kinda standing there looking clueless because Sandy said:
“Go go go…and get back here soon. The boys are probably going stir crazy upstairs.”
So I did like I was told.
I still asked Keaton if I’d made the right decision when I saw him. He was home when I got to my apartment to pack.
“Of course you gotta take it, bubba. You need the money. Joyce’ll just have to learn to do without you for a few weeks. You did without each other for longer than that when the quarantine started.”
“Yeah…but I still went over to see her. I don’t think we’ve gone anything near 3 weeks without seeing each other since we started going out.”
“She’ll just have to understand, bubba. It’s too much money that you need too badly. The real question is what are you going to do with the boys all day? Can you teach them school shit?”
“I dunno,” I said, very honestly. “But I guess I’m gonna have to try. I don’t suppose Dr. Peterson left lesson plans or anything…”
“That’s one thing you’ll have to find out. There’s a lot you’re gonna have to find out. But you’ll have plenty of time inside your bubble. Don’t forget to pack something nice to wear, just in case you’re stuck there for Christmas.”
“Maya said they celebrate Armenian Christmas.” I said that like I knew something about Armenian Christmas, which I didn’t.
“Oh, of course…duh. I should of thought of that.
“Speaking of Christmas,” I said, wondering what kind of laundry facilities there would be at the Sharpmans as I decided how many pair of jeans to pack in the equipment bag I used to use on road trips, “how am I gonna go shopping for Joyce…and you…”
“Online, bubba. That’s what everyone’s doing. That’s what I’m gonna do. No way I’m gonna stand in line waiting to get into a fuckin mall so people can shower me with their fuckin virus-filled respiratory droplets.” He laughed. “Why do you think they have me working all those extra hours delivering packages?”
“Good point,” I said, wondering if I was gonna need spikes. But then I realized they probably wouldn’t finish the base path while we were in our bubble. Still…
I reckon I took them out and put them back and took them out of the bag again, since Keaton said:
“If you forget anything, just let me know and I’ll drop it off at the front gate and someone can come out and get it, like we do with Mrs. LaSalle. You’re not going to Timbuktu, you realize.”
I knew about as much about Timbuktu as I did about Armenian Christmas, but it did sound like a place that was far away.
“Okay, man…I gotta call Joyce with the bad news now.”
“It’s not bad news,” Keaton insisted. “It’s a shit ton of money that you need fuckin desperately. Just explain that it’s like you’re going on a business trip. Which is pretty much what you’re doing. It’s just a business trip to San Marino.”
Keaton was right, so I picked up the phone and called Joyce and did my best to explain. She didn’t make it too difficult, but I could tell that she was disappointed about not being able to see me for a while. I told her we could chat on Zoom, but I knew it wasn’t going to be the same thing and I was gonna miss her too. But the deal was only until Christmas, when we could all be together…
And I started thinking about that song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”…although, if I remember the song right from Chris Young’s Christmas album, he doesn’t actually make it home at the end.
I ended up needing a bigass backpack I own as well as the equipment bag to get all my shit in. It was almost like packing up my equipment for a road trip, since I was taking gloves and a bat and spikes (yeah, I packed them after all.) On the other hand, you don’t usually pack a whole stack of boardshorts when you’re getting on a bus to drive to Maryland to play the Delmarva Shorebirds in Salisbury. So I reckon I’m coming up in the world lol.
Things had already changed at the house when I got back, less than 2 hours later. Maya works fast.