The Bubble: Day 1 (part 1)

I was getting settled into the pool house to start my time as part of the Bedrossian bubble when Jacob came through the sliding glass doors that open onto the pool deck.

“I just came to see if it was true…that you really are moving in.”

“It’s only temporary, cowboy,” I said. “Only until Christmas.”

“It’ll be cool having you here,” he said. “The bubble should be cool too.”

“Yeah…just like Survivor,” muttered Sandy, loud enough for me to hear it, although I don’t think Jacob caught it.

“So it’s gonna be baseball and swimming all day?”

“Whoa,” I said. “It can’t be all fun and games,” I said…although I really wasn’t sure why not. Still: “There’s gotta be some school work,” I said.

“Are you a teacher?,” Jacob asked. He looked a little taken aback at the thought.

“I don’t rightly know,” I said. “I reckon we’re gonna find out.”

“By the end of the three weeks, they’re probably going to be talking with Southern accents,” Sandy said. “Jacob’s already started saying ‘y’all’ and ‘reckon’.”

I didn’t see anything wrong with that. They’re both useful words. I mean, seriously: I’ve always wondered how come northerners don’t use ‘y’all’: ‘you guys’ doesn’t sound nearly as practical.

“I’ll leave you to your charges,” Sandy said. “Your job is to keep them busy. You’re going to have your hands full.”

She let herself out and me and Jacob were left looking at each other.

“Can we g outside, Hunter?,” he asked. “It’s time.” He was right: it was 2:30 already, and, on a normal Monday, I’d have started to work with him at 2. But today wasn’t a normal day.

“We can get to that in a few minutes,” I said. Then I asked: “what do y’all do during the day? I only know what happens in the afternoons.”

“What do you want to know?”

“I dunno,” I said, shrugging, which might not have been the smartest thing for me to have done. I was used to being more like a cool uncle with Matteo and Jacob, and I think now I was supposed to be a responsible parent. “I don’t even know what time y’all get up in the morning.”

“That’s easy. 8. Then we have breakfast and we start school with Dr. Peterson at 9. Lunch is at 12, and then you take over at 2. We get some free time between sports and dinner, which is at 6. Me and Matteo eat by ourselves at night; Mom and Dad eat a lot later. Dr. Peterson usually leaves after we’ve finished dinner. Then we do our boringass…”

I shot him a look. It’s one thing if the boys pick up ‘y’all’ and ‘reckon’…it’s another if they catch ‘boringass’ from me. Maybe I haven’t been watching my tongue as much as I should.

“Our boring homework and then we get to watch TV or a movie when we’re done.”

That was pretty straightforward.

“Thanks, cowboy,” I said. “What time’s bedtime?”

“9:30,” he said. “Sometimes a little later if we’re watching a movie. Are you gonna be with us all the time?”

“I…I reckon so. Fact is, cowboy, I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be doing with y’all. I think I’m gonna play it by ear.”

“What does that mean?,” Jacob asked.

“It means we’re gonna find out as we go along. But I reckon now is time for me and you to go outside and get some exercise in. You down for some BP on the tennis court?”


So we headed over to the tennis court, where they took down the net so it could be our batting cage. I’ve been pitching to the boys (mostly to Jacob…y’all can guess how Matteo feels about BP), and, while I can definitely still pitch well enough for BP to an 11 year old, the difficulty there is that you can’t really see what the batter is doing with his swing. Jacob doesn’t quite get the idea of taking a pitch, and swings at just about everything, no matter how far I miss with my lameass pitching. He makes contact often enough, but he pulls a lot of balls foul. I’m gonna need to get closer to him to help him with hitting, but I’m not sure how to manage that. Normally I’d just take him over to Chuy’s, but Maya was against that idea back when things weren’t so bad with the virus. Now I know it’s out of the question. Besides, Chuy’s probably had to close the batting cage with the new safer at home order.

It was a warm day – never mind that it was November 30 – so it was swimming weather. First me and Jacob got in the pool, then, after he’d done a bunch of laps and we’d splashed around some as I was teaching him the basics of water polo, it was time for me to work with Matteo. It was a later than it usually is when I started with him, so I thought I’d just have him swim. It was a pretty mixed-up day for everyone; I reckoned we could go back to our usual routine when we hit the gym tomorrow.

I didn’t even bother getting dressed, and told Jacob to send Matteo down in a bathing suit. Of course Matteo took his own sweet time about it, but he eventually turned up and eventually got into the pool. He was in a whiny mood and was questioning everything I asked him to do. I don’t know why. Maybe he was worried about Dr. Peterson. I reckoned we should have a talk about it later on.

“It’s time for us to stop,” he said at 4:30, even though we’d only been at it for half an hour.

“It’s not like I need to go home today,” I said. “We can hang out in the pool a little longer, if you like.”

He made a face that made it clear he didn’t like.

“How about the jacuzzi? It’ll help relax you after your swim. You were going at it pretty hard.”

“Dad doesn’t want us in the jacuzzi. He’s afraid we’re going to fall asleep and drown in it.”

“You’ve got adult supervision,” I said. “Get in.” I then had to ask him where the controls were. I soon had it turned on, and I gotta admit that, even if Matteo didn’t like it, I sure as heck did.

“I reckon this is kinda nice,” Matteo said after a while.

“See?,” I said. “We can make this part of your routine.”

“Instead of stretching after working out?,” he asked with hope in his voice.

“No, dude,” I said. “Although maybe we can cut some of the stretches.” Like the ones I didn’t even understand but which were in the exercise program.

After what I thought was 10 minutes I asked him if he’d had enough.

“Yeah,” Matteo said. “I’m going to go upstairs and shower and get ready for dinner. We eat at 6. Belen usually cooks for us, but sometimes grandma does. I don’t know who’s making dinner tonight.” He paused. “You are going to be eating with us, right?”

I honestly didn’t know.

“Does Dr. Peterson?”

“He hangs around until we’ve finished dinner, but he doesn’t usually sit down with us and eat. He kind of makes me nervous standing around like he does.”

“Yeah, I’ll sit down and eat with y’all,” I said. 6 was a little early for dinner, but I reckoned the kitchen didn’t close after the boys ate. There’d probably be a meal for the grown-ups later on. Nobody told me anything about that, though. I sent Matteo upstairs to the showers and headed for my own super cool shower myself.

After I’d washed the chlorine off and hung out under the overhead shower for a while, I opened a beer and lay down on the couch for a few minutes before dinnertime. I flipped on the TV but couldn’t find anything to watch and there were too many satellite channels for me to figure out just then. I knew TCM must be in there somewhere, as well as MLB channel, but I had no idea where. I did find Fox News and CNN, though, and watched about 10 minutes of each. You kinda gotta know what’s going on in the world these days, and Keaton figured out that the only way to get a clear picture of current events is to watch both channels and put them together in your mind.

Then I got into a fresh tshirt and shorts and headed over to the house for dinner.

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