Should Matteo Go Back to School? (part 1)

Now that summer’s almost over, I can look back and be pleased that the boys had a good time with me, even if Maya, still being careful about COVID, didn’t ok my suggestion that we go to Disneyland or Six Flags or Dodger Stadium. They had to have with Dr. Peterson some days, too, but, on my watch, they certainly got plenty of exercise, and I think a lot of fun.

They didn’t get out much, but we did manage to have a few Saturdays in the park where they could play with other kids (Jacob only got his shoulder dislocated the one time though…), since I ended up being Los Cervezeros’ regular shortstop for most of the summer. Next to me at second base was Lucas, who played amazingly. He doesn’t have to report back to Denison until the very end of the month, so he’s got a few more games with us. He’s gonna be sorely missed at 2nd, so much so that Chuy’s offered me the starting shortstop gig permanently and they’re talking about moving their regular shortstop (the one with the wife who won’t let him come to games) over to 2nd. It’s an attractive idea, but I’m not sure I can commit to playing a game every Saturday morning.

School starts at the school where the boys were going before COVID on the 16th, and it’s still not decided if Matteo’s gonna be going back. Jacob’s excited about seeing his friends again and having a normal life, even if he’s gonna have to wear a mask at school, but nobody seems able to make up their minds about what to do about Matteo.

One good thing is that Maya told me last week that, even if Matteo goes back to school, they’re still going to want Baseball Boy around. (Maya: “the boys have grown very attached to you…and we’ll find something for you to do if both boys go back to school. You can work with them after school, and Jacob’s not about to give up his baseball tutor, especially now that he’s going to be playing baseball again.” Yes…that means that he’s gonna be back playing little league, which is a huge relief. Y’all know the boy was ready to crack a few months ago.) So I’m not gonna be out of a job or a place to live, even if I’m not sure what Maya meant when she said they’d find “something” for me to do.

So it’s Matteo’s future that’s up in the air. Y’all know where I stand…and y’all know I don’t get a vote. Joyce keeps reminding me of that, like a few nights ago when I was over at her house.

“You have to remember,” she said, getting me a beer after we got back from dinner, “that Matteo’s Robert and Maya’s child, and they get to make the decisions.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said, “but Matteo’s gonna be all fucked up if he gets homeschooled. He’ll only get bullied more when he finally does go back to school…and I can’t imagine they’re going to have Dr. Peterson around until he graduates high school.”

“Maybe they will,” said Joyce.

“That would be so fucked up!,” I said. “What’s he gonna do when he finally gets to college then?”

“Whoa,” said Joyce, “don’t get so angry about it. It’s out of your control. Has Maya even asked for your input?”

“No,” I said. I knew Joyce was right, but I added: “I don’t know why I get pissed off when I think about it, but I do.”

“But what do you know about it, bottom line? It’s not like you were ever bullied except for that one time…and your dad saw to it that you could take care of yourself after that.”

“I’m trying to teach Matteo how to take are of himself too,” I said. “That was one reason for having me teach the boys to box.”

“True…but you say that Jacob’s more into it than Matteo, even if you’re doing it so Matteo can…how’d you put it?”

“Bust anyone who bullies him in the mouth?”

“You know I love your macho side,” Joyce said, “but not everyone thinks that way. I don’t think I thought that way until I got to know you, either.”

“I just don’t want a kid getting bullied on my watch.”

“Big macho jock with a soft spot for kids,” said Joyce with a laugh.

“What’s so funny about that?,” I asked, kinda defensively.

“Nothing. But I don’t think that you’d have felt that way when I first met you. Don’t think I’m patronizing you, but you’re maturing, Hunter. You wouldn’t try and juggle two girlfriends at the same time today the way you did a couple years ago.”

I think my jaw dropped open.

“You knew??”

“Of course I knew,” Joyce said. “Women always do. But you were so gorgeous that I went along with it. I figured that, if I put up with it for a while, the situation might resolve itself in my favor. All good things come to those who wait.”

My only consolation was that Joyce probably didn’t figure out the whole situation with Monica, and probably thought that I broke up with Monica before I actually did, which, looking back, really was way too long after I started seeing Joyce.

“I presume it was that obnoxious girl we met that night we were having sushi – the one with the psychiatrist boyfriend?”

“Well…,” I said.

“You’re blushing almost as badly as you were that night, which is how I could tell. You know you’re the worst liar in the world, right?” She was really enjoying this.

“Yes…that was Monica.” Maybe I should have known better than to assume that I was fooling Joyce for six months.

We got back to talking about the boys as we were getting ready for bed and I was helping Joyce take off her make-up like I usually do and she told me like ten times that I looked like a Greek statue.

“I just want to help Matteo,” I explained.

“Well, you’re doing what you can, aren’t you? You’re teaching him how to stand up to a bully. All he needs now is a bully to punch.”

“Exactly!,” I said. Then I thought that might not make any sense, especially to a woman, so I added: “or does that sound weird?”

“I’m guessing it makes sense to you.”

“It won’t be healthy for him to be sheltered at home. I’d rather he get bullied and not fight back…at least….”

“That’ll make a man out of him?,” Joyce interrupted with a beautiful smile. Although she’s great with makeup, I prefer to kiss her when she doesn’t have any lipstick on.

“Yeah, it will. Don’t make fun of me.”

“I’m not,” she said, still smiling.

“Matteo’s actually had an easier time than Jacob with the quarantine, since it’s solved all the problems he was having at school. But he can’t keep hiding behind Dr. Peterson forever. Jacob’s dying to get back to school and playing sports but…

“But Matteo doesn’t care about playing sports anyway. He doesn’t need to be on a team to have fun.”

“You know, he’s actually turning into a very strong swimmer. He might have found a sport in spite of himself. But we’ll only know if he gets to be with other kids again. I told you about his birthday party, right?”

I reckon I haven’t told y’all, either. Matteo’s birthday is July 21, and they arranged a party for him on Sunday the 18th. It was all adults. There was some extended family – cousins of Robert’s who live way out in Topanga and some Bedrossian relatives who live way out in the San Fernando Valley, including Maya’s sister (it’s pretty clear that Maya can’t stand her, which is probably why we don’t see her very often.)

Anyway, it really wasn’t much of a party. The adults largely kept to themselves except when they had to acknowledge Matteo, which was mostly when it came to blowing out his candles. Matteo seemed okay with it, but, if you ask me, it was a pretty disappointing 10th birthday party.

The only thing that made the party look fun for the TV cameras was that I was told I could invite a couple people, and, while that was adults too, at least it was adults who were interested in Matteo. I invited Keaton who the boys really like, and Lucas, who the boys got to know at Los Cervezeros games. I knew Lucas would get on with Jacob and they’d be happy hitting balls all afternoon, so, if nothing else, that would leave plenty of attention for Matteo from me and Keaton. Turns out I didn’t give Lucas enough credit, and he had no trouble connecting with Matteo, so the five of us spent the afternoon together.

We actually had an awesome time and we pretty much forgot about the grown-ups who supposedly came for a birthday party. Lucas loves the water almost as much as me, so we got up quite a game of water polo, me and Lucas against Keaton and the boys. Keaton was determined to keep me and Lucas from winning…and nearly succeeded lol. Even Matteo got seriously into it. I reckon we got pretty noisy, but Matteo was the birthday boy and it was supposed to be his party, so I didn’t try to keep things from getting too loud like on July 4th. Ethan and the crew were there and got some great video of the game, which was far and away the best part of the birthday show that aired the week after.

We also used the batting cage, which Lucas hasn’t seen as yet. He was super impressed (like he should have been.) Me and him got into it pretty competitively with the machine turned up to 90 mph, and I gotta admit Lucas held his own against his teacher. Keaton learned his lesson with pitching that hard the first time he used the machine, so he hung back with the boys and explained how to bet on a baseball game. Yeah, there was some flak from some viewers who thought Keaton was corrupting the boys, but, well, even if I don’t do it, knowing how to bet on sports is something every dude should know how to do.

We also showed off the boxing equipment to Keaton and Lucas. Me and Lucas were heading into the gym in just our board shorts when Keaton stopped us, and, out of the reach of microphones, said: “one of you looks gay enough…but two of you really makes this place start to look like some gay resort…get some shirts on.”

Lucas didn’t know Keaton well enough to give him the two word answer, so I gave it to him from the both of us. As a result, the camera got plenty of video of me and Lucas in boardshorts and boxing gloves. I could see Keaton cringe lol. I don’t know why he thinks I look gay just because I’m in good shape. Joyce appreciates it. And so do Baseball Boy’s fans. Let’s just say that Ethan hasn’t exactly been encouraging me to wear a shirt this summer.

Matteo had a lot of fun with me, Keaton and Lucas – it was as physical as I’ve ever seen him get – but a kid turning 10 should have a kid’s party with games and shit…and of course his friends. Yeah, there was a cake with candles and plenty of presents. I got Matteo a book he said he wanted along with a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which I think he’s ready for, while Keaton and Lucas got him Amazon gift cards so he could order more books probably.

When I mentioned that it kinda sucked that there were no kids at his party, Matteo said again that he didn’t have any friends his age he could invite. But he needs buddies his age. Everybody does. And the only way he’s gonna make friends is if he goes to school. Who knows? He’s lost the weight and he’s now…well…I reckon we can say he’s a ‘competent athlete’. He’s not going to get picked last anymore or made fun of because he can’t do basic things like catch, throw or run. I’ve worked dang hard with him (and it hasn’t been easy some of the time with Matteo’s tendency to be sarcastic when he doesn’t want to do something), and I really would like to see it pay off.

I explained all this to Joyce once more once we got into bed.

“Yes, darling…but, as I keep telling you, you don’t get a vote,” she said, switching off some boringass movie on TCM.

“Do you think I can say something, though? At least as an advisor. What’s the legal term?”

Amicus curiae?,” Joyce asked.

“That’s it.”

“Where did you even hear that? From your lawyer?”

“I’m not sure,” I said, shrugging. “You pick shit up. I’m smarter than the average dumb jock.”

“You’re a lot of things more than the average dumb jock,” Joyce said.

“I am, am I?,” I asked…and that kind of put an end to the conversation that night.

But I got back on the subject again at breakfast.

“Hunter, you’re being like a dog with a bone. If you’re determined to do something, why don’t you talk to Sandy? She knows Maya better than you do, and she might have an idea of how to approach her.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said, since it really was one. I resolved to put it into effect once I got back to the house…and tackled my fried eggs and biscuits.

 

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