Thanksgiving 2022 (part 3)

This year at Thanksgiving at Adam and Allan’s I was sitting between Ethan (Adam asked me if I was cool with that at the game on Tuesday…he said he figured I might be since I take care of children) and Esteban – so that was kind of the sports part of the table. Mrs. LaSalle was across from me, and she was sitting between Thom and Ryan. Adam and Allan have a rule about not seating people next to the people they came with, which can be a surprise if you’re expecting to have dinner sitting next to your girlfriend (who was sitting all the way down next to Allan, halfway in the foyer), but Joyce explained it to me and I reckon it makes sense. That way you talk to people you’d otherwise maybe not talk to: it mixes the guests up, and it’s not like I had any shortage of things to say to either Esteban or, in point of fact, Ethan.

Dinner was great, and a lot less fancyass than Adam and Allan made it previous years. So, for example, there was no cardamom in the candied yams. They did make the bacon-wrapped turkey again, and that was bomb (I had three helpings), and I really liked the chestnut stuffing. They also made a snap bean casserole, but not the regular way: they said they found a recipe at Trader Joe’s that made it from fresh green beans and included a layer of melted cheese. It was pretty dang good…although I didn’t run and text Meemaw that she should put swiss cheese on the casserole when she makes it for Christmas lol.

Ethan was 6 when I first met him back in 2018, so he’s 10 this year, which is only a year younger than Matteo. So I kinda knew what it would be like talking to him, only, unlike Matteo, all he could talk about was sports. Ok, we did discuss my birthday trip to Disneyland a little, but, mostly, he pumped me about my career and what it was like to be a professional athlete.

The really good part is that Ethan’s turned out pretty normal, and not just because he’s sports-crazy when, when I first met him, he didn’t even know what a shortstop was. He’s been through a lot for a kid his age: there’s no way around the fact that his mother nearly poisoned him with arsenic when she was suffering from Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy. And dang does he have an appetite: after not being allowed normal food because of allergies Leslie imagined, he had three helpings of turkey just like I did. He seems like a great kid. If he only were into things Matteo liked I’d have suggested getting them together…but I’m afraid he and Matteo wouldn’t have anything to talk about…and Jacob’s too old to want to hang out with a 10 year old.

“You should get Hunter on your show,” Ethan suggested to Esteban between mouthfuls. “Especially now that he’s playing on a Spanish-speaking team.” (Yeah, Los Cervezeros came up in conversation when Ethan asked if I still played “real” ball.)

“Then get him to set a date,” Esteban said. “I’m on for three hours every day. There’s plenty of room for him.”

“Ok,” said Ethan, clearly enjoying himself with this chance to be a grown-up and broker a deal, “what about this week? When can you make it, Hunter?”

“I’m on 12 to 3,” Esteban said.

“Do you want me to bring the TV cameras with me?,” I asked, seriously. #baseballboy on the radio was potentially something we could make a segment out of.

“Think I’d say no to that kind of publicity? Sure. The more the merrier. There’s room for one dude and a camera in the studio.”

Ethan looked a little stumped. This was getting more complicated than he thought it was going to be lol.

“Well…,” he said to me, “when can you get the cameraman?”

“I also have to see if someone else can pick the boys up,” I said.

“I’ll make 12 to 1 the English hour.” (Esteban’s show is bilingual.) “You’ll be done in plenty of time to get them.”

“What about Wednesday?,” Ethan asked. “Assuming you can work it out with the cameraman.”

Me and Esteban looked at each other and shrugged.

“I guess it’s a date,” Esteban said.

“You’re a born negotiator, young man,” said Mrs. LaSalle, who was watching us with a big smile on her face. “Mr. LaSalle was a lawyer, but he hated negotiations. He said you either had a knack for it or you didn’t. You clearly do, Ethan.”

“What’s a knack, Daddy?,” he asked Thom.

“Like a talent,” he answered.

Ethan clearly liked the sound of that.

Since we were talking across the table, Thom asked me about the turkey bowl, since he remembered that I played football on the previous Thanksgivings we’d been together.

“It was a good game,” I said. “We had a lot of fun, didn’t we Keaton?”

“Yeah,” he said from down at Adam’s end of the table. “Bubba’s and my team kicked …butt, although we only won by a field goal. Seems like I’m turning into a good center in my old age. I played tight end in high school. And bubba will learn to be a decent quarterback one of these days.”

Y’all know what I wanted to say…but I was sitting next to a 10 year old and ladies were present. So I just laughed and looked down and blushed a little for some reason.

“You played in a turkey bowl?,” asked Ryan. “Sounds like fun.”

“Dang it,” I said, “we should have invited you. You played in high school, didn’t you?”

“Yep,” said Ryan. “Center, mostly.”

Ethan’s ears pricked up. I could tell he wanted to hear more about life on the O line (and he did later on in the evening – you could tell his estimation for Ryan went up when he found out that he played more than softball, which clearly couldn’t be all that difficult or his old gay uncle wouldn’t be able to play it lol.)

“Don’t you have a nemesis in that game?,” Allan asked, not trying to make trouble, but inadvertently making it. I forgot to mention that Keaton called me after I got home from the turkey bowl to warn me not to tell anyone about the fight…or the almost fight, since I won it with one punch. It’s one thing to tell people that a bunch of guys were playing a rough game of football…it’s another to tell the guests at the Thanksgiving table that you kicked a dude’s ass after the game.

“Nemesis?,” Ethan asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “there’s this one dude in the game who keeps starting trouble with me. He pushed me from behind for no good reason today…and we were on the same team.”

“That’s a nemesis?”

“Nemesis means someone who always bothers you,” Thom contributed from his side of the table.

“I hope you got him back,” said Ethan.

“That I did,” I said, not going into details.

“Bubba totaled him with one of his patented Block Blocks,” Keaton said, getting off the subject we wanted to avoid.

“Block Blocks?,” Ethan asked.

So I got to explain how I used to take practice with the defense sometimes when it got boring sitting around watching the other two quarterbacks take reps, and how I learned how to throw my 170 pounds (at the time) around like I weighed 270.

Ethan was very impressed with that. I think maybe more than with my pro ballplayer cred.

This is when Amanda made herself known. She gave a big yelp that startled everyone. What had happened was that Keaton went to get up and had collided with Amanda’s paw with his chair (as Keaton had the good luck of being seated next to Nikki.)


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