The Infield Goes Out (part 1)

Most of the Parrots were finally able to get together last Saturday night, and, by ‘together’ I mean together in the same room. Two rooms, in fact: first we had dinner at Mi Casita, then we headed to Old Town for the grand reopening of the Volcano. (Keaton explained that they could have opened as early as Thursday but there was a delay with the owners getting the plexiglass panels installed on the tables out back.) Not all of us were there: David’s moved to Las Vegas with his girlfriend (so we need a new centerfielder), Dave and Trey couldn’t make it, and Travis’ car is in the shop (although I volunteered to pick him up), so we were playing without an outfield, but the whole infield was there: me, Sloppy Joe, Josh, Adam, Ryan, our regular ‘ringer’ on guys’ nights out, Dylan, and, once we got to the Volcano, Keaton, who’s back working security on weekends in addition to his job with Amazon.

None of us were sure what it was gonna be like going out, and if there was gonna be thousands of people trying to get into places that operating at 25% capacity, so we played it safe by going to places where they knew us. That meant dinner at Mi Casita, where Ryan works, and then over to the Volcano, where we knew Keaton would let us in, 25% or no 25%.

We met up pretty late, since, like usual (back when usual was usual, that is), I wanted to be at the bar at closing and head over to the IHOP with Keaton afterwards. I also wanted to stick around at home until the boys were asleep. It’s not that I’m not allowed to go out at night, and I’m sure it would have been ok with Maya if I’d cut out earlier, but me and the boys usually watch a movie on Saturday night, and I didn’t want my guys’ night out to short change my guys’ night in. (We were flipping back and forth between the Disney Robin Hood and the Dodger game. We caught the 8-run 4th inning, which was cool, but I didn’t want to force Matteo to watch a whole ballgame. He’s beginning to appreciate baseball, but a 3½ hour game still gets real boring for him.)

We arranged to meet at Mi Casita at 10. We all had our masks on, but, since we spent most of the evening eating and drinking, most of us pulled them off the minute we sat down for dinner.  We did a quick poll and everyone was vaccinated, so we pretty much blew off the fuckin masks as much as we could for the rest of the night.  The other reason for getting there late was that Ryan was working that night, and that’s more or less when he gets off, so he was able to hang with us when we got there. The owners of the restaurant are very fond of Ryan, and take good care of him. They were glad that he was getting together with friends…and that someone sober would be around to keep an eye on him. They even refused to let us pay when we got up to leave.

I ordered chile rellenos, which Belen never makes. (Belen: “you want chile rellenos…you help in the kitchen.”) All the food was awesome, but maybe the best thing of all was dessert: churros filled with caramel. I’ve never had a filled churro, but they’re apparently a specialty at Mi Casita, and people come from all over to get them. They were totally bombass. (Ryan told me they usually sell out of the filled churros by 7 PM; they made extras knowing we were coming, which was super cool of them.)

Although we’ve all gotten together on Zoom for birthdays and shit, this was the first time that the Parrots were getting to see each other since our last game last March. And, yeah, there were some surprises.

The biggest – or is it smallest? – surprise was, y’all guessed it, Sloppy Joe, who’s like half his original size. He used to weigh in at 275…and now he’s 190. Josh didn’t even recognize him when he came in, that’s how different he looks.

I guess Nutrisystem works, especially if you’ve got a girlfriend who’s keeping an eye on everything you’re eating and gets on your case every time you eat something that’s not on your diet. He’s also been taking those apple cider vinegar gummies, although those are probably bullshit. He even looks shorter from the weight loss, although I know that’s not possible.

Everyone was telling him he looked great, and I did too…although, for one, I didn’t see anything wrong with how he looked before. Yeah, fine, he was a pretty fuckin big dude, but so the fuck what? But that’s what happens when you get a girlfriend who surgically removes your balls. I reckon him and her must be pretty serious, although there’s no talk of her moving in with him or him getting her a ring. At least not yet.

Nobody else looked so dramatically different, but Adam’s got a beard again, and yeah, as he said himself, it’s greyer than it was…”but no one’s been able to see it with the mask on anyway”. Josh also grew out his beard – he had a goatee before. I think it looks good on him, but, then, I’ve always thought that goatees were kinda lameass…I mean…you should either have a beard or not.

I think that Josh, Dylan and Adam all put on a little weight, about 10 pounds each. I know I’ve put on about 5, but I’ve also got a gym I can work out in whenever I want…a big luxury in a state where the gyms were closed for months.

Ryan looks great, I’m glad to say. Whatever he’s doing is working for him. He doesn’t seem to have gained any weight, even if he works in a restaurant, although, from how he tells it, working at Mi Casita is good exercise.

Although Mi Casita has a liquor license for wine and (especially) beer, they didn’t want any more drinking around Ryan than was necessary, so, with our food, we got big pitchers of horchata and that tart red iced tea Belen makes. That was more than cool with me: I’m used to having soft drinks with my meals these days. I don’t think anyone else minded, either, especially as the horchata was extra good, way better than what you get at most taco trucks. There was a cool hint of cinnamon to it.

We all had a lot of catching up to do, and, yeah, I got some shit for having become a reality TV ‘star’ while everyone else was locked down. Adam told me that Allan doesn’t miss an episode of At Home with Maya, but I was real glad to see that Adam could laugh at that by this point…since he did used to be kinda jealous of Allan’s thing for me. Ryan said that he was watching the show one day in the living room at the sober living he’s at, and someone came in just as (wouldn’t you know it) another of those shots of me climbing out the pool came on. After that, the show became a favorite with a bunch of the guys who live with Ryan lol. Dylan’s wife Jacqueline is apparently a member of what he called the “Hunter Block Fan Club” too. She says women must really like the way I interact with the boys. (Jacqueline: “he’s gonna make a great father one of these days.”)

Of the guys who’ve been working remotely, none of them have gone back to their offices yet, and they’re all in agreement that they’d be happy if they never had to go to the office again (Josh: “shaving and putting on pants is a pain in the ass.”) They all reckon they can work just as well from home. Adam and Allan have always worked from home, and they say that their business has finally picked up, they think because people have been spending so much time at home that they’re realizing it’s time to redecorate. So, although it was pretty dang rough for them for a while, they’re back in good shape business-wise.

Me, Josh and Dylan were wearing ball caps. But the guys who weren’t all looked like they needed haircuts. I may have a sold a few of those “if you can comb it, you can cut it” clippers like I got for Keaton. After he used his a couple times and turned out with the best haircut I’ve ever seen him with (ok, that’s not saying much lol), I got myself one as well. It does work, and it’s easier than all the shit you have to go through to get a hair appointment these days.

We weren’t ready to head over to the Volcano until practically midnight. Since he obviously wasn’t drinking, Adam had his car and he drove Ryan, Dylan and Josh, while me and Sloppy Joe waited for an uber.

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