When I looked around at all the people at my surprise 29th birthday party, I couldn’t believe that I had that many friends. I mean…I did that post a while back where I listed all the people I’ve mentioned in the blog, but that included people like Monica and her fucked up family…and baseball players I figured I’d never meet but still needed to write about…but, as it turned out, there were enough people to fill up the downstairs of a very big house in San Marino.
“And this is without your Instagram followers,” said a voice behind me, I guess figuring out what I was thinking. I turned around and saw Destiny…for the first time live, since, up until then, she’d just been a face on my computer. Turns out she has legs lol. And dang nice ones, too: her idea of cocktail attire was a black leather jumpsuit, in which she looked dang hot.
Maya came over towards me through the crowd, looking…well, you can imagine how she looked at a party she was throwing. (Joyce: “tell them she was in a very short cocktail dress covered in scarlet paillettes and probably Christian Louboutin embellished pumps.”) I couldn’t obviously let on how hot I thought she looked…but, hey, she probably already knew. And of course she had the confusing perfume on.
“Surprised?,” Maya asked me.
“Blown away,” I answered.
“You should thank the boys. It was their idea.”
Jacob was still next to me, although I’d forgotten all about him. Matteo was behind Maya and stepped forward.
“You guys are amazing,” I said. I bent down to give them each a hug. I’ve never really done that before, but it seemed like the right thing to do. No one at the party was wearing a mask anyway…so I reckoned we were putting COVID behind us, at least for the duration of my birthday.
“But how did you know how to invite all these people?”
“Your blog, Hunter,” Jacob explained.
“The post where you wrote down all the people you wrote about,” Matteo added.
“You owe Sandy a lot of thanks, too. She did the research of finding all these people’s addresses. It wasn’t always easy.”
“And who got Corey Seager to come?,” I said, looking over the crowd and seeing his head sticking up over everyone else. (I guess none of my friends is taller than 6’4”.)
“That was me,” Maya said. “Being a celebrity counts for something. And I thought it would be useful for you to have some Major League Baseball contacts. You could invite one of the Dodgers for your segment on the show one of these weeks, I was thinking.”
“And since we know Seager is your favorite…,” Matteo said.
“…of course he is, he’s the shortstop…,” threw in Jacob.
“…we thought we’d start with him,” finished Maya.
“If only he stays a Dodger,” I said. I’ve been following the rumors about which team he’s going to sign with pretty nervously over the past few weeks. The rumors don’t amount to much…but I’m going to be super disappointed if he goes someplace else.
While I was standing there, Keaton came up from Maya’s right side, steering Joyce through the crowd, and carrying a beer in a cool Pilsner glass.
“Thought you might want this, bubba,” he said, handing me the glass.
Maya laughed, looked at Keaton…and I could tell he went weak at the knees.
Keaton, by the way, looked great in a dark suit, skinny tie and his dress-up cowboy boots (I reckon they’re “church boots” to Texans lol.)
“You sure clean up good,” I said to him, taking the beer.
“I even got a haircut for you, bubba.”
So that was why his hair didn’t look messy like it usually does. I may be wrong, but I think there might have been some product in it as well. Of course product is gayass in Keaton’s book…but that also explains why his hair always looks so messy.
Joyce gave me a quick kiss and looked at me expectantly.
It took me a minute to figure out what she wanted.
“Oh…that’s right…y’all haven’t met. Maya, this is Joyce, my girlfriend. Joyce, this is Maya Bedrossian.” I was afraid Joyce was gonna get defensive and jealous meeting my super hot movie star boss, but Maya clearly knows how to handle women as well as she knows how to handle men.
“I’m so glad to meet you,” Maya said. “That’s a stunning dress,” she said. (Joyce: “tell them I was in Escada, purple with a taffeta skirt, pumps by Manolo Blahnik. I went all the way for my TV debut.”) “It’s Escada, right?”
“Yes,” Joyce said.
“I wish I could wear their things, but” she gestured to herself “I’m not the right shape. Escada doesn’t design for Armenian women. You need a figure like yours to wear their clothes right.”
Like I said, Maya knows how to handle women as well as she knows how to handle men. I guess you can see that on the show, but there’s a lot you can learn from her. I haven’t studied her, but that complimenting women by pointing out something you think is wrong with your appearance – even when you’re as stunning as Maya – is the kind of thing anyone would do well to remember. She certainly had Joyce eating out of the palm of her hand after that.
“Can I steal Hunter?,” Maya then said. “There are some things we absolutely have got to get on camera.”
I didn’t want to leave Meemaw, but I saw she was getting on great with Keaton and even Joyce, and, ok, I’ll admit it: I really wanted to meet Corey Seager, and I was pretty sure that was why Maya was ‘stealing’ me from Meemaw and Joyce.
Sure enough, that’s where we were heading. He looked even taller in person than he does on the field.
“Corey,” Maya said, “this is…”
“Hunter Block!,” interrupted Corey’s wife, who I immediately recognized from their Instagram.
“Hunter Block, Corey Seager. Corey Seager, Hunter Block.”
Me and Corey shook hands. He had as good a grip as I thought he would, even if he broke his right hand at the start of the season.
“It’s awesome to meet you,” I said, probably gushing a little. “And it’s awesome that you could make it to my party. I certainly wasn’t expecting…”
“That’s partly Madi’s doing,” Corey said, indicating his wife. “Although I guess she’s already introduced herself.” For a superstar ball player, he was coming off as a real nice guy. “She’s a big fan of At Home with Maya. And of yours,” he added, with kind of a goofy smile.
“Yes,” she said. “I’ll admit it: I follow you on Instagram.”
“Same here,” I said, kinda feeling myself blush.
“I probably should be jealous,” Corey said with a laugh. “Madi gets me to watch some of what you do with the boys,” he continued. “You give good advice. I like your view that hitting is natural and you have to trust your eyes, brain and arms to do the right thing. I had a hitting teacher in high school who gave us exactly that advice.”
“I got it from that guy over there,” I said, trying to indicate Sumter in the crowd.
“Yes. You know him?”
“We met earlier tonight, but I’ve heard of him. He’s played a few games with the Cubs after all. And I like to keep tabs on other shortstops.”
“That would be a great photo op,” Corey’s wife said. “The three shortstops.”
“Way ahead of you,” Maya said, returning to our group leading Sumter by the hand.
This was the first I’d seen Sumter up close, and we shared a big hug before he shook hands with Corey. I felt super goofy posing for a picture between two MLB shortstops, and they probably felt kinda lameass too…but I also know that the photo op was one of the reasons that Corey and Sumter were there in the first place.
So they got the photos of the three of us, and they actually came out real nice…even if I look short next to Corey and Sumter (who’s 6’1”.) Actually, if you compare it to the title of my blog, the picture is of three southern shortstops in Los Angeles.
I gotta admit that Corey was a great sport when it came to pictures, since just about all the Parrots wanted their pictures taken with him. We also posed for a team photo with Corey and Sumter (hey…he may not be as famous as Corey Seager, but when you’re a recreational softball team a dude who’s played MLB games for three seasons running is a pretty big celebrity), and that came out real nice, too. Corey was also great with autographs…and it just so happened that the boys had a bag of baseballs for him to sign.
In the midst of all that, we got a chance to talk, too, and the Dodger fans reading this are probably wondering if I asked Corey about the thing that’s on all our minds: free agency and is he gonna be back in blue next year.
What I think I said was: “you must know that I’m wondering what you’re gonna do in free agency…but I also know I’m not supposed to ask, so I’ll let you have your privacy. But I do want to say that you’ll be missed big time if you don’t come back as a Dodger.”
He thanked me for not being a dick about trying to get an answer out of him and then we talked about hitting some more. He even asked if I still played, and I told him about Los Cervezeros and what a good league they’re in. Then I took him over to met Chuy, who was duly impressed that I had a celebrity at my surprise party.
“What do you mean one celebrity?,” Aracely asked him after Corey had moved onto mingle with the rest of the crowd.
“Por su puesto,” said I voice I recognized, “el guapo is a celebrity now too. He’s on television every week.”
“Alicia!,’ I said. I have to admit that I didn’t recognize her in regular clothes with her hair pinned up. She looked great. I haven’t seen her since the pandemic started, since the IHOP only just went back to being open 24 hours…and I haven’t had any late nights at the Volcano recently.
I called Keaton over and we had a nice talk with Alicia, who said she’s fine now that she’s back to work. She introduced us to her husband…who we didn’t even know existed, since Alicia was always joking around and calling me el guapo. He seemed like a nice guy, although his Spanish was loads better than his English and I got lost when he, Keaton and Alicia got into it in that language.
There were waiters passing drinks, but, instead of champagne, they were passing beer, which the boys later told me was done with me in mind. Some of them were going around with cocktail glasses too, but the main drink of the evening was a terrific craft beer Maya had arranged to bring in specially for the occasion. The waiters, I should add, were awesome, and I never really noticed them as they kept sure that my glass was never empty.
I kind of let the tide of people (and the camera) decide where I was going, and the next person I found myself talking to was Luke, who looked great (of course) in what must have been a super expensive suit. Meemaw thought it looked silly that he was wearing Chuck Taylor All Stars with the suit, but I thought it looked super cool. Despite that, he was probably the person who charmed Meemaw the most. She was always a little suspicious about him from what I told her – she figured he was a little golddidgger – but y’all know that’s not true at all. (Luke apologized for Justen not being able to come, but he’s still pretty phobic about COVID and was afraid it was going to be a ‘super spreader’ event. As it was, Luke was going to have to be in quarantine when he got back to Santa Barbara for a few days, Luke: “but you’re worth it, Hunter.”)
While I was talking to Luke, Sabrina came up to us. It’s been months since I’ve heard from her.
“I see the…what did that British putz call you two?…the two Adonises found each other.”
“I think it was Ganymedes,” I said.
“As long as it wasn’t the two Narcisssuses,” said Luke. “Or is Narcissus already plural?”
“I’m sorry I never got back to you guys about the plan to paint both of you together. I went through a major depression during COVID and having no one to paint. It took a while for me to come out of it…and a lot of psychiatrists. I’m convinced that the bottom 10% of the medical class becomes psychiatrists.”
“But you’re good now?,” Luke asked. I felt a little awkward hearing about Sabrina’s troubles like that, although you’d think I’d of been used to hearing about people with psychiatric issues from Travis.
“Yes,” she said. “I’m painting modern dancers now. It’s a whole series. They’re interesting because you can pose them like Gumby dolls. But now that I see the two of you next to each other…it’s too good a chance to pass up. If you’re both still willing?”
“As long as you don’t make Hunter look gay,” Luke said, kinda reading my mind. “You can make me look as gay as you want, though. What do you say?,” he added, turning to me.
“If I can fit it into my busy schedule,” I said, jokingly. Then I remembered that I do have a busy schedule: I’ve got two kids to take care of and I’ve got TV show segment to shoot which requires me to be in super good shape. That reminded me:
“How much time do you spend in the gym, Luke?”
“Not that much. Maybe 12 hours a week. Why do you ask?”
“Because I need to look like an underwear model for the new segment on the show…”
“…and you figure I’d know all about looking like an underwear model?” He laughed.
“I’ve seen you in board shorts,” I said.
“You look pretty fuckin good in board shorts in the last segments of the show I’ve seen, my boy.” said Luke. “You look positively gay.”
“That’s what Keaton says. Is the 12 hours counting swimming?”
“Not really. That’s fun time, not gym time,” Luke said.
I couldn’t have said it better. And, for the record, I’m spending about 12 hours a week in the gym myself.
“So do you think we can coordinate our schedules?,” Sabrina said. “I’m all excited now that I’ve seen the two of you together.”
“You both should come up to Santa Barbara for a week and me and Hunter can sit for you up there.”
“I’m afraid I can’t take that much time off.”
“I’ll call you,” said Sabrina, making that phone sign people do with their pinkies and thumbs. “I hope we can work something out.”
“I’d best leave you to mingle,” Luke said. He turned to leave and caught a glimpse of Keaton.
“Who’s the Clint Eastwood type?,” he asked. “Is that your friend Keaton?”
“That’s him,” I said. Gay guys don’t usually go for Keaton the way they go for me, but I guess Luke was an exception to that rule.
“Good thing I’m taken,” he said, walking off in a different direction.
That left me to mingle some more. I wasn’t sure that I was doing it right, but this was my first time as guest of honor at a Hollywood party in a San Marino mansion…