Turning 29 (part 1)

Y’all know that I like it when people take notice of my birthday (which, by the way, is on November 8 lol.) I said that on the show without thinking…and, as a result, I got a huge pile of birthday cards from viewers. Yeah, I counted the cards (with the boys’ help): there were 245 in total, and I’ve decided I’m going to try and thank every person who sent me one. Destiny said that she can have cards printed saying whatever I want so I don’t have to write it out 245 times. I reckon that, if I sign those cards myself, it’ll be kind of personal. I didn’t know how many cards there were until my actual birthday, because the boys thought it would be fun if they got delivered to me all at once, although they were coming in for over a week without my knowing it.

Apparently people sent me birthday presents too, although the show has a strict policy about those and we donate them to charity if we can. Destiny and Sandy told me about some of the gifts I was given…and let’s just say they weren’t all the kind of thing we could donate to charity. I mean, I get it…kinda…people (it’s dudes as well as chicks) have kind of developed celebrity crushes on me. That sounds totally weirdass to me, since the last thing I think I am is a celebrity, but ‘celebrity crush’ is the only expression for what these people seem to have for me. Now, I’ve had celebrity crushes just like everyone else, and I can remember what they were like. I also know that my crushes had nothing to do with the real person behind the celebrity…that’s how celebrity crushes work. So knowing that makes it easier to deal with the fact that there are people out there who I guess have fantasies about the Sharpman’s pool boy.

Maya, who knows a lot more about being the object of celebrity crushes than I ever will, told me that it comes with the territory and not to let it bother me when people ask you to send them your underwear in the mail. I’m gonna try and follow her advice.

So my 29th birthday began with the boys coming through the sliding glass doors carrying two big bags containing all the birthday cards. They were followed by Belen, who was carrying a tray so I could have breakfast in bed. Believe it or not, I’ve never had breakfast in bed before…and, well…it was pretty dang cool. Belen made me fried eggs and bacon…and, like we usually get, tortillas in place of biscuits. (It’s not my favorite, but I’m getting used to it.) Plus juice and coffee in a small french press, as opposed to the larger one we use in the kitchen. Belen makes super strong latino coffee for everyone, not just me…and I understand it’s the cheapest brand they have in the supermarket. It’s also the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.

I didn’t have a whole lot of plans for my birthday. I got the usual shit from Keaton for telling everyone that my birthday was coming up (Keaton: “it’s bad enough to do it with people you actually know…but you fuckin did it on national fuckin TV, bubba!”), but he didn’t say anything about our doing anything to celebrate. The only person who called to make plans with me was Joyce, who said she was taking me out for a steak dinner and that I should dress nicely so it would be festive. (Joyce: “that means a tie and church shoes.”)

It was plenty warm for a swim, so I spent a while in the pool. I think I can tell y’all that the six pack is important for the new segment on the show, so I’m going to have to keep up the workout regimen Lucas got me started on at the beginning of the summer. It’s no worry, since I hardly mind being active and it’s not a challenge for me to keep from spending the days lying on the couch eating bonbons lol.

Then it was time to go get the boys. When we got home, we worked them on baseball, since that’s our regular Monday activity. I’m pleased to report that Matteo’s batting keeps getting better and better and I’d say he’s definitely ready for little league, if he cared enough to get onto a team. He’s got all these skills now and it’s a shame he never gets to put them to use in a real game. He might get to like baseball a lot better if he got to actually play.

After our time was over, Jacob said that he wanted to work on sliding, which we haven’t done for a while (although one of my jobs along with taking care of the pool is upkeep of the two-base path, so it’s always ready for us to use it.) I said fine…nothing new in Jacob wanting to stay outside longer than planned so he doesn’t have to go inside and do homework…so we went back to the front of the pool house. I’ve shown Jacob how to slide head first a few times, but he’s still shy of throwing his whole weight forward and himself off-balance. So we worked on it, with me breaking down the motions piece by piece. Jacob got me to demonstrate at least as often as he slid himself, so I was pretty much covered in base path dirt by the time Jacob said it was time for him to go inside.

“And you have to go clean up for your date with Joyce,” he said. “You look like a total mess.”

I really did, but lucky for me I have an awesome shower and had plenty of time to get my hair just right, put on some Vanilla & Anise and then – I figured why not? – get dressed up in the interview suit my parents got me two years ago but that I only got to wear to that one interview. It still fits nicely, although my waist’s gotten a little smaller so it was good that the suit was all fancyass and had buttons for fancyass suspenders as well as loops for a belt. I put on a tie that Joyce gave me (it’s in all kinds of blocks of bright colors and from an English designer Joyce really likes and that Keaton told me looked totally gayass when I showed it to him), since I knew it would make her happy to see me in it, and we have very few occasions when we go out and I need to wear a tie.

I had the shitbox keys in my hands and was ready to leave when Jacob came into the pool house.

“Mom wants to see you before you leave for your date,” he told me. “Looking sharp, man.” Then he realized what he said. “Not Sharpman.” He laughed.

I figured that Maya probably had a present for me, so I texted Joyce that I might be a few minutes late and followed Jacob into the house through a side door that leads to a passage that connects to the dining room, which is separated from the living room by the foyer with the staircase.

There are other ways to get to Maya’s office, and we usually go through the kitchen, but Jacob seemed determined to take me through the dining room.

Ok, y’all may not believe me, but I totally didn’t see what was coming.

Not even when Jacob went in front of me to open the dining room doors – although I did get a little puzzled then, since the doors are usually kept open.

Remember that we just changed the clocks, so it was dark outside at 6:30, and it was plenty dark in the hall after the doors were opened.

And then suddenly all the lights were on – that means TV camera bright on – and a huge group of people yelled:

Surprise!!

Y’all know how I said you’re all going to enjoy the look on Keaton’s face when he saw me in my witch getup? Ok, y’all are gonna enjoy the look on my face when they surprised me just as much.

I was totally blown away even before I saw who all was there…and it turned out that that meant just about everyone I knew in California. Joyce was there of course (so much for her steak dinner plans lol), along with all the Parrots…and Adam brought Allan. Simone and Daphne were there too…and then I got a look and saw that, a little further back in the crowd, were Chuy, Aracely, Abel and Lupe…and Carlos (whose radio show I still have to go on) and Esteban. Even El Tigre was there, looking a little uncomfortable in what I found out the invitations called “cocktail attire” lol. Luke was there too, looking as good as you’d imagine he would in cocktail attire, although Justen couldn’t make it. Sabrina and Jonas made it, however, she looking amazing in one of her painted dresses.

Basically, if I wrote about them in the blog, they were there at my birthday party. There were some people I didn’t recognize…I figured they were Maya’s friends and associates and people connected with the show. And there was one person I didn’t know but certainly did recognize: y’all may not believe it, but Corey Seager and his wife were there too…I guess celebrities like Maya can get celebrities like Corey to come to surprise parties. There was another surprise as far as baseball players were concerned: they’d flown my mentor Sumter Henderson in for the occasion as well. Sumter and I are in contact at least once a week, usually by text, but I haven’t been in the same room as him for years.

Ok…so it was a huge surprise and I didn’t know what to do at first. The cameras were rolling, and I got so overwhelmed that I got a little teary-eyed. I was expecting to go to Maya’s office and get a present from her…something like a tie or another pair of board shorts lol…and instead I had a huge party with nearly a hundred guests.

But there was an even bigger surprise. I didn’t even notice that there was a band until I heard a drum roll and suddenly the lights flipped on over the stairs…

…and Meemaw walked down the stairs.

Ok…so it took me a few seconds to recognize my grandmother. She’d clearly gotten the full Maya Bedrossian treatment: I was sure that Fabio had done her hair, her makeup had been done by Maya’s makeup artist…and that Maya had probably taken her shopping to get the black cocktail dress she had on. (Joyce: “tell everyone that it’s a black knit dress with gold buttons.”) She looked super glamorous…but she still looked like my Meemaw. They didn’t gussy her up too much, in other words, just enough for a Hollywood cocktail party. I guess it was what the cameras were expecting, but I ran up the stairs spontaneously to give Meemaw a big hug.

“Happy birthday, HB,” she said to me. “Surprise.”

Keaton was at the foot of the stairs as I led Meemaw down.

“Is this enough gayass birthday party for you, bubba?,” he asked me.

“It’s getting there,” I said, laughing. “Where’s the food?”

“It’s going to take a while for them to put it out…but it’s an all Southern buffet,” Meemaw said. “They had me supervise. I hope you realize it’s been very difficult hiding like this all day. They’ve had me and the Hendersons at a hotel since Saturday – they’re very nice people, although they do show off pictures of their children too often…”

“I know. Sumter keeps texting them to me,” I said.

“But how did you get here?,” I asked Meemaw.

“I’ll begin at the beginning later, but it was Maya’s idea to ‘fly me in’ like they keep saying out here. You have so many guests to talk to that you’d better hop to it now. It’s good to see that you have so many friends.”

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