Keaton came over on Friday to hang out and use the pool for the first time. We had a chill morning together and were spending the afternoon with the boys. After BP and plenty of sliding practice, we all got in the pool and had a plain ole great time in the water. We splashed around, played some water polo, then the boys got me and Keaton race (I won again) before it was time to get out of the pool and get ready for dinner. Keaton came with me into the pool house to shower while the boys went up to their rooms.
“Fuck am I tired,” he said, dropping into one of the living room chairs. “It’s a good tired, but, shit, I totally forgot how exhausting a kid can be. And you’ve got two to take care of. Fuck, how do you do it, bubba?”
“They kinda keep me energized,” I said, going to the refrigerator and opening us a couple beers. Although I wouldn’t drink in front of the boys, I figured we could have a mini ‘happy hour’ before dinner. “But I definitely sleep well. We’re not usually as active as we were this afternoon, though, and I don’t usually have them at the same time. Plus I think they were showing off for you some. So don’t think this wasn’t a typical afternoon at home with Jacob and Matteo.”
Keaton got in the shower first while I called Joyce, just to check in.
“That bathroom is so fuckin gay, bubba,” Keaton said, coming out with wet hair and wearing a fresh tshirt and shorts. (He brought a backpack with a whole mess of clothes since he knew there was gonna be a lot of changing in the course of the day.)
“C’mon, man,” I said, “you gotta admit that it’s one awesome shower.”
“I’ll grant you that,” he said, with a laugh, “but it’s still totally gay. And so’s that shower gel.”
Gayass or not, I got in the shower and used Maya’s brand of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel to wash off the chlorine. Then I got ‘dressed’ for dinner, meaning basketball shorts and a Dodgers tshirt. Although the boys have to wear their school polos and khakis to dinner, I think everyone expects me to be in shorts. It’s dressing my ‘part’, I reckon.
Dinner was very cool. Belen, knowing that she was cooking for a Texan, made us tacos al pastor, but she made them super picante, just to show Keaton that Mexicans eat food hotter than Texans do. The guacamole to put on the tacos was especially hot…the kind of super hot food that makes you feel like one of those old cartoons where your face turns red and smoke comes out of your ears lol. It was delicious, so I kept eating it, but, when I stopped, dang did I get hit by the heat…my head started sweating and I had to get up to blow my nose.
I could tell Keaton was sweating from the guacamole too, not that he was gonna admit it. The funniest thing is that the boys didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all, but they’ve been eating Belen’s cooking since they were old enough to hold a fork.
The boys wanted Keaton to stick around after dinner. So they went upstairs to change into shorts and me and Keaton headed for the pool house and turned on the Dodger game, which was just starting. The boys joined us. I don’t think that Matteo was thrilled that we were gonna watch baseball, but he didn’t say anything and, kinda unexpectedly, sat down on the floor in front of the TV to watch. (There was plenty of room on the couch next to Keaton, but for some reason he wanted to sit on the floor.)
Then, after Machado (who both me and Keaton hate) scored in the 2nd on an error by Betts (not my favorite Dodger) something happened. Matteo asked what had happened on the play and the three of us started explaining the game to him. It’s not that he doesn’t know the rules of baseball, but he’s not into the subtleties of the game, can’t tell one pitch from another…stuff like that. But that night Matteo was getting into it…and by the end of the game he was identifying pitches pretty accurately. It just took a bunch of guys explaining it to him and having a good time doing it. We were talking so much that I finally muted Joe Davis; there was enough commentary in the room from me, Keaton and Jacob.
It also turned out to be an awesome game with all kinds of crazy shit happening, the lead going back and forth with three ties, a bench-clearer (but not much of a brawl), three extra innings, Seager knocking one out of the park at the start of the 12th, and a final score of 11-6. They were saying it felt like a playoff game, and I’d agree with that. It was a real battle, definitely the most exciting game the Dodgers have played this season, and it looks like we’ve got a really cool rivalry going with the Padres. That’s gonna be fun to watch as the season goes on. I mean, I know I’m supposed to hate the Giants, but I’ve had trouble getting into that rivalry. I’m getting in on the ground floor of this one, and that’s pretty cool.
It’s good that it was a Friday night, since the boys wouldn’t have been allowed to stay up to watch the end of the game if it was a school night.
At about 10:00, Robert did come down to see what was happening. There was a lot of “please, Dad, it’s Friday night and the game’ll be over soon!” from Jacob when Robert said the boys needed to go to bed, but he went along with it. It was Friday night after all, and I figured the game would be over soon, too.
Then it went on until past Midnight.
I had a couple of very tired boys on my hands by that point, although they stayed awake through the whole game. I walked them back to the house, mostly to make sure that they didn’t set the burglar alarm off getting in.
“Do you go tuck them in or something?,” Keaton asked me when I got back and we’d opened a couple of beers.
“No,” I explained, “we usually say good night here and they get ready for bed on their own. They’re a little old to need tucking in…although I don’t know what Maya and Robert do at bedtime.”
“I reckon you gotta leave some parenting duties to the real parents.”
“Hey, man,” I said, “I’m not a surrogate parent or anything.”
“Oh yes you are, bubba,” Keaton said. I reckon he saw me frown, because he added, “or maybe you’re too cool to be a parent. Does it feel better to be thought of as a big brother?”
“You took care of a kid before,” I told him, “did you think you were Charlie’s surrogate dad? A person should only have one father.”
“Ok, you’re right,” Keaton admitted. “I just hope you realize how much those boys love you.”
“I guess you’re too close to it to see how they look at you. I know Jacob looks up to CT3 as a ‘ball player’s ball player’, but you’re his hero. Same thing with Matteo, even if he hides it better behind that attitude of his. If you ask me, he’d never have lost the weight if he hadn’t had you watching over the process. Don’t get me wrong,” Keaton said, “none of this is bad. It just puts pressure on you not to disappoint them. Boys need heroes.”
“Yeah,” I said, “me and Cal Ripkin Jr.,” I said.
“No, bubba: you and your dad. Just like me and my dad. But not everyone’s been as lucky as we were when it came to fathers. The important point is that they’re awesome kids, and y’all are pretty fuckin lucky to be in each others’ lives.”
“They thought you were pretty amazing too,” I said. “I’m sure they’ll be talking about you tomorrow…and asking when you can come over again.”
“Any time y’all are willing to have me,” he said, polishing off his Kona Longboard, “as long as there are no TV cameras around.” He put the bottle down and said “that’s my cue to bounce,” he said. “I’ll text you in the morning to tell you how sore I am.”
Once upon a time, we’d have shaken hands, but that’s been history for over a year. We decided a year ago not to so any lameass elbow-bumping, so I just walked him to the truck, explaining on the way how to open the gate from the inside. Then I went back into the pool house, thought about another beer, then decided I wanted ice cream instead. It had been a super cool day, but also a dang tiring one. So, after washing out my bowl, I went into the bedroom and stretched out on the bed, still in my tshirt and shorts. I conked out before I could get up again to brush my teeth, change into pajamas and get under the covers.
Then I woke up at 6 and realized I’d been sleeping in my clothes. It was Saturday morning, so I still had at least another 4 hours before it was time to get up…so I got into pajamas and finally did get under the covers.
I was back asleep before I realized that I still hadn’t brushed my teeth.