I’m sitting at my desk yesterday, editing a (painfully) bad book, and my email dings. Ah, a break, I thought. About damn time. Who’s saving me? Ooh, John*. And wait, what’s that? What’s the subject of the email? Yanks Tickets? Yes, I think I can read this one.
So I click on it, and I see that John just got back from the Bahamas (which he insisted on telling me just to piss me off), and he was the proud owner of some Yankees tickets (which he knew would keep me from hating him about the vacation). He, of course, was inviting me to go with him. Why? Because he owes me. And I’m awesome to watch a baseball game with.
Why does he owe me? Well, I have partial season tickets to the Yanks – right near first base; they’re beautiful seats – and I take him. A lot. I do this for several reasons, but the top two are he’s willing to go to games in the middle of the week, and he always buys the beer as a thank you. He also tries to return the favor by inviting me whenever he gets seats. So it works all around.
Plus, he’s fun. He’s laid back, he knows his baseball, he can drink me under the table, and he humors me when I get drunk and insist on buying cotton candy (which I don’t really like). He’s my buddy. I’ve known him since high school (when he was a first year teacher and I was a senior). And he doesn’t mind when we go out and I hit on other men. It’s totally platonic between us. Sort of.
You see, here’s the thing. Even if a relationship is platonic between a straight man and a straight woman, there’s always flirting going on. It never means anything of course – it’s more like practice. But, it is flirting. So you have to make sure everybody’s on the same page. But as long as everyone is, it’s totally fun and harmless. And John and I have always been on the same page. Kind of.
Except for that one time.
OK, here’s what happened. It was last year. We were at a Yanks game on a cold, rainy, miserable Saturday, and I was complaining. Why? Because I was hung over (I’m not an alcoholic, I swear) and freezing. And I can be pretty annoying when I’m complaining. Still, John knows me well, and this isn’t the first time he’s ever seen me in a bad mood. In fact, he thinks I’m cute when I’m cranky. Which I am. I swear.
So what did John do? He went in search of hot chocolate to warm me up, a beer for after the hot chocolate, and a blanket (that he saw them giving away for free as a promotional thing for…something). He came back with all this stuff for me, and I was so thankful that I let him rub my hands to warm me up – I know, I’m an angel.
And then we somehow (during one of many rain delays), got to talking. If I remember correctly, they were flashing those Happy Birthday!/Welcome (insert name) signs up on the big screen, and up came Welcome, Harry and His Bachelor Party (or something like that). And John goes:
John: Hey, I know those guys.
Me: You know Harry?
John: Yeah, I met them at Stan’s before the game.
Me: (considering) You know, if I could convince my friends to do it, I’d have a bachelorette party that included a Yankees game.
John: No one would go for it.
Me: Yeah. But you’d come. It doesn’t have to be just girls. I bet I could convince everyone.
John: I can’t come if I’m the groom.
(Dead silence while I look at him to see if he’s joking. He doesn’t seem to be. He’s actually looking at me in kind of an intense way.)
Me: Um…(nervous giggle) you wouldn’t want to marry me. I’m a pain in the ass.
Pretty much everything after that was awkward. I was miserable. He was quiet. It was just bad. Probably the worst baseball game I’ve ever been to, and it had nothing to do with the weather. When he suggested we go to dinner after the game, I said something along the lines of, “No.” No explanation. Just no. Then I avoided his phone calls for the next two weeks. Because I’m a pussy.
But we got through it! We learned to pretend there was never any awkwardness. I now make it a point to mention anyone and everyone that I might be dating or considering dating. And he continues to give the impression he doesn’t care (so I’m going to assume he doesn’t). In other words, my baseball buddy and I are back on the same page. And another season is upon us. Which is great. Because a good person by your side (at a game) is important. Not essential, but important (the game is always the most important thing). They make the experience EVEN MORE enjoyable. And I’d hate to have to scratch John off my list.
He really does always buy the beer.
*Not his real name