The Bubble: Day 1 (part 2)

After moving into the pool house and supervising the boys in their daily activities, I showered, had a beer, lay down for a few minutes, then got into fresh shorts and a tshirt and headed over to the house for dinner. I still don’t know my way around fully. I mean, I knew how to get to Sandy’s office and the gym, and I knew where the boys’ rooms are upstairs, but it’s a fuckin hugeass house and a person could easily get lost in it. One thing I didn’t doubt was that there was room for the four other houseguests who were making up the rest of our bubble.

All the doors in the upstairs hallway were closed when I got there, except for the one to the schoolroom. I thought I’d go in there and have a look see if Dr. Peterson left a lesson plan or something. I knew Matteo was in the 4th grade and Jacob was in the 6th, but I don’t really remember anything about what it was you studied back then. Dr. Peterson has a big desk, and I opened one of the drawers. I felt weird going into someone’s desk, but maybe it was okay if you were a substitute teacher…which I reckon I am. Kinda.

I couldn’t find anything that looked like a lesson plan, so I decided that meant I was on my own. And flying blind. It’s not forever, though, and Christmas vacation is starting soon (do you get Christmas vacation when you have a private tutor?), so I didn’t think that they were expecting me to teach the boys a whole lot. I knew they had plenty of art supplies on this big table at the back of the room, so they could always pass the time working with those. As long as they didn’t ask me to teach them how to draw something lol.

I did find a couple math books and flipped through them. It’s been a while since I’ve told y’all this, so maybe you forgot, but I was real good at math in school. And I recognized what was going on in both books…so I knew I could do some math with both boys. (Matteo’s at the age where they do fractions.) I picked up another book from the shelf behind Dr. Peterson’s desk: it was an American History textbook. I wasn’t sure if it was Matteo’s or Jacob’s, but I remembered enough of that so that, that, if I read ahead one chapter, I’d be able to teach them…

Then I started to freak out. I mean, yeah, I’ve learned how to teach baseball skills, but baseball is what I know best in this world. I was always a good enough student, and I liked school a lot of the time, but that’s not enough to turn a dude into a teacher overnight. Yet, here I am, about to start a gig as a scholastic tutor. At least I think that’s what’s expected of me. Nobody’s bothered telling me what it is that I should be doing with the boys.

I was sitting in Dr. Peterson’s chair holding my head in my hands when Matteo came into the room without knocking.

“You’re not supposed to be in here,” he said.

I looked up. “Why?”

“Because they said we should wait 24 hours after cleaning and disinfecting the room before coming back into it. No idea what Dr. Peterson might have coughed on.”

“Oh,” I said. I think I leapt up from my chair.

“Don’t ask me why, though,” Matteo added. “Mom and Belen cleaned the whole schoolroom from top to bottom with bleach as soon as Dr. Peterson’s test came back, and, as far as I know from the biology he taught us about the virus, bleach kills it instantaneously. It’s not gonna kill more germs if you leave it to sit. So don’t worry.” I relaxed. “But we still probably shouldn’t be in here. C’mon downstairs. It’s dinnertime and I’m starving.”

Small wonder that the kid was starving. I know how much he gets to eat every day.

Turns out the boys have dinner at a table in the kitchen that looks out over the back – I still can’t call it a ‘yard’. When Matteo and I got there, Jacob was in the process of setting the table. I was glad to see that Maya got the boys to help out around the house, at least a little. I have trouble imagining what it must be like growing up with so much money all around you – and that’s not factoring in being on TV all the time.

Belen did the cooking: it was some really good and pretty dang spicy meatballs in a soup with a salad on the side and some tortillas in one of those tortilla warmer things. With a bottle of Perrier water for us to drink.

Usted quiere una cervezita, señor HuntAIR?,” she asked.

“Is it okay with you guys?”

“That you have a beer with dinner?,” asked Jacob, “of course you can. Dad says beer goes great with Mexican food.”

Por favor,” I asked Belen. She brought me a Corona (not my favorite, but it goes well with Mexican food), complete with lime but also with a glass, which was good. I’d have felt really strange drinking a beer out of the bottle with kids around, although I can’t explain to y’all why.

The dinner menu had been nicely constructed so that we all ate the same thing. The only difference was quantities: Matteo only got a few meatballs, me and Jacob got a few more…and we were allowed to eat all the tortillas we wanted, while Matteo was held to only 2. The other thing that was different was the salad dressing: Belen offered us a choice, and Jacob took balsamic while I took ranch. Matteo, however, had his own special diet dressing.

The one time he looked fed up with what he was eating was when he started to eat his salad.

“This dressing they give me is grossass.”

“Dude, language! You gotta be a little older before you can start using those words.”

“You taste it and you tell me if it isn’t grossass.”

I fumbled around, not wanting to cross-contaminate plates or anything. Belen came to the rescue with a salad fork. I stuck it into a nice big piece of iceberg lettuce…and noticed that the red dressing dripped right off the lettuce and back into the plate. I got it in my mouth, and, yeah, Matteo was right. Totally grossass.

“What is it?,” I asked.

“Half lemon juice and half tomato juice,” Matteo explained. “My dietician thought it up. She says that she puts it on her salads all the time. But she’s a dietician, not a chef, so what does she know?”

I laughed. It was hard not to, even if I felt terrible for Matteo with his grossass salad dressing.

“It’s okay for you guys to have regular salad dressing though. I’m ok with it. It doesn’t make me feel bad…and I don’t want y’all to suffer.”

I think I looked guiltily at the salad in front of me.

“I mean it, Hunter. Pretty soon I’ll have lost the weight and this will all be over. I’ll be on a maintenance plan where I get 1250 calories a day, I heard.”

It was a little pathetic to hear how wistfully Matteo mentioned the number of what must have seemed like a crazy amount of food to him at this point. It was pretty much 50% more food than he was getting now, although, if you ask me, still not enough for a growing boy. Jacob was getting 2000 calories a day, which seemed more like it.

The boys helped clear the table when we were done. I did my best to help, but there wasn’t anything for me to do: the boys and Belen had it all figured out.

“I know Dr. Peterson wasn’t here today…but do y’all have any homework tonight?” I wasn’t at all sure what I was supposed to do next and homework seemed like the logical thing for them to do.

“A little,” Matteo said. “We’re supposed to work on stories we’re writing.”

“You had to go and tell him,” Jacob said, giving Matteo a shot in the arm. It was hard enough for Matteo to put his hand on his shoulder.

“Whoa, cowboy!,” I said, thinking that I was supposed to tell him not to hit his brother. At least I thought that was what I was supposed to say. I never had a brother…and, even if I had, I’d of hit back. So: “no hitting.”

Jacob didn’t look sorry, but he said he was anyway. That was the best I could expect.

“Make y’all a deal,” I said. “One hour of homework and then we’ll watch a movie.” I hoped we’d all be able to agree on a movie. “I’ve still got some unpacking to do.”

So the boys went upstairs and I went back to the pool house. My snacks had arrived, I noticed, and were on the little dining table. I found a cabinet over the kitchenette and stored them there. I checked the fridge, which wasn’t too much bigger than the minifridge in the bar, and, sure enough, there were two containers of ice cream. One thing is definitely true about Sandy: she makes things happen.

I didn’t lie to the boys and did still have some unpacking to do, but I wasn’t in the mood for it, so I slipped off my shoes and lay down on the couch again. It’s a nice long couch with plenty of room for someone who’s almost 6’ tall to stretch out on. I reckon I fell asleep, since the next thing I knew Jacob and Matteo were in the room calling my name.

“We’ve done enough homework,” Jacob said. “We want to watch a movie.”

“What movie?”

“We settled on Frozen II,” said Matteo, producing the blu ray box. “Have you seen the first Frozen?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve seen the second one, too…but I could see it again.” I never wrote anything about the movie after I saw it with Joyce when it first came out…but I totally didn’t understand it. Maybe seeing it again would make it make sense.

“Where do you want to watch it?,” I asked.

“Can we watch it in here tonight?,” Jacob asked. “You’ve got a bigger screen than we have.”

“Ok,” I said.

“I brought some air-popped popcorn,” Matteo said, holding up a bag. “It tastes like styrofoam…but it’s all I’m allowed. You two can make regular microwave popcorn if you want.”

I looked at Jacob.

“I brought some,” he said, holding up the package he had in the same hand as the blu ray box. “You’ve got a little microwave in the kitchen here.”

“Just make yourselves at home,” I said with a laugh. It was a sarcastic laugh, but I didn’t expect them to get it…but I was wondering if I was gonna need to make some rules about not coming in without knocking anytime they wanted.

I went over to the kitchenette to see where the microwave was. Jacob knew the pool house better than I did, clearly.

“No soda in front of Matteo, though,” he whispered. “He really loves it…and it makes him feel bad if he can’t have any. But the popcorn is okay. And…you can have a beer if you want. I don’t think that’s going to make Matteo feel bad.”

I don’t know why, but I reached over and ruffled Jacob’s hair. It just kinda happened naturally. He smiled, so I reckon I didn’t do anything bad.

We eventually all got situated – the boys on the chairs, me on the couch with a beer and my popcorn (beer and popcorn is a better combination than you might thing it is lol) – and watched the movie. And I can tell you after having watched Frozen II twice that…

…I still don’t know what the fuck it’s about lol.

But Olaf is hilarious, and I love his song about understanding things better when he’s older. And, yeah, I got a lump in my throat when he flurried away, even if I knew he was gonna come back at the end.

We were done with the movie at almost exactly 9:30.

“Bedtime,” I announced, standing up. I’d never said that to a kid before. It felt decidedly weird. Lucky for me the boys didn’t protest. They got up and headed towards the door.

“Do…do I need to come with you?”

“If you want,” Jacob said, “but Mom usually tucks us in.”

“Oh…ok…then I reckon you’ll be okay by yourselves.” They must know how to get to bed on their own, I thought, since they said Dr. Peterson goes home right after the boys have dinner and they don’t have a nanny to tell them to brush their teeth. They’ve got parents, though…and I was glad to hear that Maya tucked them in. It’s not that I had the feeling that Maya and Robert didn’t care about the boys – if you’ve watched he show, you’ll see that they’re very involved with them…I reckon it’s just that they’re both busy and don’t have time during the day, so they need me and Dr. Peterson. And maybe it would be different if they were in school, too. In case I needed reminding that things were anything but normal.

I opened another beer, finished my unpacking, and called Joyce on zoom for a few minutes. Then I got the wifi figured out and started writing about a crazy day that was probably the beginning of a very crazy Advent season for me. For better or for worse, the Sharpmans’ pool house was gonna be home for me for the next 3½ weeks and I was gonna be in charge of taking care of the boys close to full-time. I was gonna have to teach them, too…and that was the part I was really freaking out over. It got me feeling tense and overtired…and then I remembered that I had not only one, but two jacuzzis to choose from. I didn’t feel like waiting for the hugeass bathtub to fill, so I put on a pair of boardshorts and went outside to the jacuzzi by the pool.

Ok, so it wasn’t 80° any more, and, yeah, it was pretty fuckin cold to be outside in nothing but boardshorts, but the jacuzzi steps are practically right outside my ‘front’ door and I knew the water would be warm. At least I figured it would be warm…I honestly didn’t know…maybe they turned it off at night or something, although Sandy said I could use it…

Turns out it was plenty warm when I got in…and realized I’d forgotten to turn it on. And then it really was fuckin freezing…being wet and out on a cool night. But it was warm and nice again when I got back into the water and let it do its thing and relax me before bed. Then I headed back inside, took a fun shower to get the chlorine, and got into the bed…which was a lot of bed for just one person, although the mattress and pillows were super soft and I had no trouble falling asleep, especially after my time in the jacuzzi.

Only I this totally weirdass dream that woke me up at 2:45 in the morning.

In the dream, I was laying in bed, tied up…laying next to a gorilla. (I so fuckin hope it was a chick gorilla, but I never found out in the dream.) Somehow I got untied and I ran out to the car and I drove to where I thought the Sharpmans house was. Only (of course) all the streets were fucked up, and where I should have been I wasn’t…and where I ended up was a deserted football stadium. And I started worrying in the dream of how I was gonna get in trouble for being outside of the bubble.

So I had to get from one side of the football stadium to the other…and I knew there were people hiding in the stadium who were after me. Y’all know that that happens in dreams. So finally this chick catches up with me and the next thing I know is that I’m tied up again in a hotel room somewhere. Then it gets even weirder: Monica’s crazyass mother comes out of the next room…only she’s naked. (And, no, I never saw Monica’s mom even in a swimsuit. I only saw her two or three times tops and I don’t really remember what she looked like. Only I know that’s who it was in the dream.)

So anyway I’m being held prisoner by this chick and Monica’s mom, but the weird thing is that I wasn’t afraid of them. I kept telling them that I was gonna get loose sooner or later because this was a dream so they might as well just let me go. The strange thing was that I could only talk and move very slowly, but I was plenty sarcastic with them. I then did get away from them, only this time there was a dude in the hall outside the hotel room where I was, and he took me prisoner. Same deal: I tell him that I’m gonna get loose so he might just as well let me go. And it kept happening, the being caught, the sarcasm, the escaping, I don’t know how many times…and finally I woke up.

I wasn’t in a cold sweat or anything, but I did want to make sure I remembered the dream. So I went out to the living room and the lap top and started writing.

I needed another beer while I typed out a summary of the dream.

Then I got back into the big comfortable bed. And checked carefully for gorillas…of either sex…before I fell asleep again.

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