The weather’s cooled down for the past couple days – meaning it’s in the mid-80s – and the boys started back to school yesterday, so I reckon that means that the summer’s coming to an end already. Dang did it go by quickly, even with the sexual harassment thing hanging over my head. I know we have a lot of hot weather coming our way in September (September’s the hottest month in Southern California, which is kinda weird), and the equinox isn’t for almost another month, but my life changes to fall mode when the boys go back to school. They had plenty of activities to go to over the summer (Maya saw to that – they even had a welding class they went to once a week), but I’m also a little like a camp counselor, since, when they’re not at their activities, I’m responsible for keeping them busy and out of trouble. That involved a whole bunch of things besides the obvious swimming and baseball. We have Gechitzik to play with (and try and train – I got in some frisbees and the boys are good with them, but Gechitzik hasn’t grasped that jumping catch it would be so cool if he could make), and Belen’s taught all three of us to make some Mexican dishes, while Mrs. Bedrossian’s taught all of us some conversational Armenian. It was actually a super fun summer, and I enjoyed keeping the boys busy.
But yesterday it was up at 6:55 like usual and driving the boys to their school then picking them up at the end of their day. Jacob’s going to continue with little league, so he’s got practice once a week and a game on the weekends (if the game’s on Saturday, it makes it super tight with my schedule with Los Cervezeros, but Maya wants me to do both…Maya: “Robert can drive Jacob to his game if it comes to that”). Matteo’s got an art class to go to after school as well – they want him to do something extracurricular, and he didn’t want to do anything with sports, even after me and him had a long talk about it – so I’m pretty busy in the afternoons.
And no sooner did we go back to the school year schedule that I had to go out at night, since Tuesday was Adam’s sobriety anniversary, and that’s become an annual celebration for the Parrots. Like last year, we went to Buca di Beppo – it’s just the perfect place for a bunch of hungry guys to celebrate, even if it’s without beer. Besides, Adam likes it…and Allan doesn’t, and this sobriety dinner has become a Parrots thing and Allan doesn’t come along. (In case y’all were wondering, he and Adam celebrate their anniversaries together at midnight with gayass apple cider and shit, so there was a lot of celebrating before Adam got to the team dinner.)
We’ve had a personnel change on the Parrots since I last wrote about us (which I can’t believe was a year ago.) After trying out a bunch of guys who didn’t work out or couldn’t make the schedule or some other shit – and after borrowing an outfielder from Los Cervezeros for a few games until his wife complained about him not being home on Tuesday nights – we finally got an awesome dude to play in Dave’s spot in the outfield. He played college ball and now he works at a Lexus dealership during the day and plays a wicked game of softball on Tuesday evenings with the Parrots. He’s one of our best hitters and, fuck, does the dude have a cannon when it comes to his throwing arm. Shortstops have to throw further than the other infielders, and I can throw pretty dang hard by those standards, but this dude – his name’s Michael, but he goes by Mikey to his friends and teammates – could probably put a ball through a piece of drywall. It’s pretty impressive. It’s good having someone steady back there again, and that’s probably one of the reasons why we won the last two league championships. (Yeah, it’s been good to be a Parrot lately.)
So that meant there were 11 of us: Ryan, Adam, Sloppy Joe, Keaton, me, Josh, Trey, David, Mikey and Travis…plus Dylan who’s still an honorary Parrot, and who actually found Mikey for us so he wouldn’t have to take over in left center. (Dylan’s awesome, but Travis says he sucks as a ball player, which is the reason why he’s done his best never to have to play with the Parrots.) We got the table with the Pope’s head in the middle, and it’s still a little weird at first, especially when he’s facing you and staring into your eyes lol.
We ordered all the usual stuff, including the extra meatballs. The waiter warned us that we ordered too much food, even though we were 11 people; I guess he didn’t know how the Parrots can pack it in. (Sloppy Joe: “you got some growing boys on your hands” – and by that I don’t think he meant Trey. I’m not sure we’re all still growing, but it’s at least an excuse for the extra meatballs. And, yeah, Sloppy Joe kept warning me about keeping my six pack until it got annoying. Keaton: “why not just be totally gayass and ask him to pull his shirt up?” That at least got him to lay off. And, no, I don’t make it a habit of pulling my shirt up. People see me shirtless often enough lol.)
I looked back at last year’s blog and I realize I talked a lot about the food at Buca. Josh always says that he’s embarrassed to eat there, having an Italian wife (who Travis says is an amazing cook)…”but, even if it’s not authentic, it’s good.” It is. Dang good. I really got into one of the gayer dishes we ordered, the eggplant parmesan, which seemed extra good this time. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a ton of spaghetti…and a whole meatball to myself. (Yeah, yeah…I heard it from Sloppy Joe already. )
Before I get to the birthday boy, maybe I can catch you up on the rest of the Parrots. I’ve kind of been neglecting them in the blog, although I see them at least once a week.
Sloppy Joe has taken a huge step and has moved in with his girlfriend – the one who put him on Nutrisystem during the lockdown. He hasn’t asked her to marry him yet, and I gotta admit I’m kinda surprised she hasn’t gotten him to pop the question. She’s gotten him to do everything else she’s wanted, after all. Neither me nor Keaton nor Travis is convinced that she’s the right girl for him, although she’s probably closer than all those super-hot models he used to date. Otherwise he’s doing okay. He’s kept most of the weight off (maybe that’s why he gives me so much shit about my abs), and got to stay out as late as he wanted the night of Adam’s party. Not because Danielle let him; she’s gone to visit her mother for a week lol.
Ryan’s doing great. He’s still clean and sober, and he’s moved out of the sober living where he was living and got an apartment with another dude around his age who’s also sober. He’s straight, which Ryan says is a good idea: the last thing he wants at this point is getting involved with another dude. (Ryan: “I’m still working on myself.”) He invited his roommate to Adam’s party, but he didn’t want to be the outsider who didn’t know anyone. I can get that, although I think we’re a super friendly bunch of guys.
Trey’s all finished with his associate’s degree at PCC, and he’s going to start at Cal State Northridge this fall. He says it’s a good school (I went to a “state” school too), although he’s got no ambitions to be on the baseball team. He’s going to keep living with his parents and commute, which means he’s gonna be spending a lot of time in his car. He’s made sure that he’s free on Tuesday afternoons, though, so he can keep playing with us.
David’s much the same. His job has stayed remote since the lockdowns: his company gave up their offices and now everyone is working from home. That sounds great…and I say that knowing that my home basically is my job. He did mention that he’s got a new girlfriend, and it sounded like he’s really into her – the way you are when a relationship starts with someone you’re really really attracted to.
Josh, who got us new pinstripe jerseys after Keaton complained one time too many about the gayass parrot-colored ones, had big news for the team at the dinner: his wife is expecting. (I know, I know, Josh said ‘we’re pregnant’, but, like Meemaw would say, he ain’t gonna be pregnant when he sees what going into labor is like lol.) She’s about three months on, and they don’t know whether it’s going to be a boy or a girl, but Josh said that Marcella doesn’t want to know, even if he does. (Josh: “I need to know if I need to order a baby Parrots uniform.”) He will be the first Parrot to have a kid, although I don’t think we were having a contest to see who’d be a dad first. But it’s great news. Josh and Marcela are awesome people, and I’m sure they’ll be great parents.
Dylan has already been asked to be the godfather. He didn’t have similar news to announce, however, although he and Jacqueline are coming up on their third anniversary on Christmas. Travis has told me that they’re getting along…mostly…but sometimes have huge fights about things that seem pretty trivial to Travis. But he (and, as he reports, his parents) don’t think that means the marriage is in trouble. I hope not. I like Dylan, although I’ve never met Jacqueline, even if I’ve been closely involved with his brother. But then there’s a big age difference between the two brothers and they basically have different friend groups.
And what about Travis? He’s doing amazingly, I’m glad to report. Moving in next door to Keaton turned out to be one of the best ideas me and Keaton ever had. They’ve both got their separate lives, and it’s not like Travis comes over for dinner every night (he is one of the few Parrots who knows the ‘secret’ that Keaton knows how to cook), but Keaton’s keeping an eye on him in a good way, just to make sure he’s safe. But the reality is that Travis is doing an awesome job of what they call ‘independent living’ in the mental health world. Travis is being super careful where chicks are concerned, because he doesn’t feel like he’s ready for a relationship and he’s still a little traumatized from his experience with that Lola chick when he was staying on the ‘funny farm’ and he showed up at my apartment at 2 in the morning. He works hard at what he calls his ‘journey’, and he’s got Keaton to turn to if he feels like he’s getting too down or too up. Keaton’s a great person to have to turn to like that: he’s just the man to talk sense into someone, and I think y’all know that he cares about his friends about as much as anyone I’ve ever met.
Travis has been taking classes at PCC since last winter. He’s taking it slow, and not taking a fulltime course load, but he’s keeping his grades up, and really enjoyed a history of film class he took last spring. He enjoyed it so much that he’s talking about making a career in the movies. (Keaton: “you should see if you can get him some kind of internship on the show.” It’s a good idea, but so far there’s nothing that would be right for him. But Maya knows I have a friend who’s interested.)