The Home Team

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The Home Team
Seems like none of us can read a schedule. Vanessa came to visit Wednesday and was going to stay until Sunday. Now she's going to fly home Saturday morning because my Nashville Hounds have to fly to Albuquerque after Friday night's game. You could blame me for this scheduling screwup, since I don't really look at the schedule until the last minute, at least down here. In fact, I was in the act of being blamed when something happened.

We got a knock on the door of my trailer Thursday night after the game. It was about 11:30 and we were just about to go to bed (I like games that end in less than 3 hours, especially games in which I don't pitch). Andy, my personal trainer turned security "detail," has a special knock that he uses. I thought this was one of them. I say "thought" because I can never remember which special knock he's using. He tells me, I look him straight in the eye and tell him I'm listening, then space out thinking about chunky tomato sauce or something.

So...uh, oh yeah. Thursday night. A knock. "Maybe it's Andy," I said to Vanessa. She tells me to look out the window. I tell her I don't need to. I know his knock (even though I was extremely unsure). Thus, I open the door and...it's our (Vanessa's and mine, not Andy's and mine) two daughters, Alyssa and Grace, standing outside, shivering. I look around and don't see Andy anywhere. So much for security.

Hugs are exchanged. Squeals of delight spew out of Vanessa. I smile because I haven't seen my girls since March 30th, almost 3 weeks. We sit down and I grill them:

Me: How did you get here?
Alyssa: Plane.
Me: I mean, who arranged this trip?
Grace: Me. There's this think called the Internet.
Me: I've heard of it. Free porn, right?
Vanessa: Jimmy!
Me: How did you pay for your tickets?
Alyssa: We didn't.
Grace: You did.

Instantly, I'm lost. I did? Just as I had forgotten Vanessa was going to come by the day before, had I forgotten my two spawn were going to come by tonight? Surely, Vanessa would have told me, or reminded me.

Me: Surely, Vanessa, you would have told me or reminded me they were going to visit.
Vanessa: Yes, I would have.
Me: But you didn't.
Vanessa: Correct.
Me: (wrinkling my brow, desperately trying to figure this out)
Alyssa: It's not math, Dad. Surprise.
Me: That doesn't answer my question. How did you pay for this trip?
Grace: Ever heard of credit cards?
Me: Yes. (but said like a dufus)

Silence. Nobody finished Grace's thought. It just floated in the air above us.

Grace: What are you looking at?
Me: (looking down) Huh?
Alyssa: You gave us credit cards for Christmas. We used them to pay for our flight.
Me: (nodding and happy that the world was no longer shaped like an octagon)
Vanessa: Your father is tired and just misses you.
Me: Missed. They're right here. The missing is over.

We talked for a while. They're doing well back in their own school. I didn't like the fact that they flew by themselves from Newark to Nashville. But it was still good to be together, the whole family, the four of us, in my trailer built for two - maximum.

Me: (yawning) So where are you staying tonight?
Vanessa/Alyssa/Grace: Here.

"Here." Another word that floated in the air above us.

Grace: What are you looking at?
Me: (looking down) Here?
Vanessa: Where else?
Me: Has anybody seen how small this trailer is? Do you know who I am? I'm Jimmy Scott. Baseball star? You expect me to -
Vanessa: You can sleep in Andy's trailer.

Knock knock. "What?" I said it was me. "Who?" I said it was me. Baseball star? Andy opened his door. "You didn't use the knock." I apologized. He looked at my blanket, my toothbrush and toothpaste, the pajamas draped over my frame. "What? Did Vanessa kick you out?" I told him about my visitors. "And?" I told him about the suggested sleeping arrangements. "Fine."

Andy is a big man. He's not fat. Personal trainers aren't allowed to be fat, just like defensive ends in football aren't allowed to be skinny. Andy is just a big-boned, huge African-American man. "You ever play football back in the day?" I asked. He said no. Got in the way of his violin lessons.

His trailer, about as nice as mine, which isn't exactly paradise on wheels, shook with every step he took. He showed me a couch where I could sleep, then turned off the lights and began to sing. (Andy's a great blues singer.)

Andy: Take me, woman, to that place -
Me: Andy, you're singing.
Andy: - where you want to be. Take me, woman to-
Me: It's going on 1AM. We should probably sleep.
Andy: -that place where we're going. Oh, oh oh, oh...
Me: Do you sing yourself to sleep every night?

Silence. At least this night, he did.
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