— Cyd Zeigler jr., Outsports.com blogger, in a posting about Oklahoma City shootings in the wake of the Thunder beating the Lakers. This quote is all too true. Here in San Francisco on a Friday or Saturday night, walk around North Beach and then walk through the Castro. In North Beach, cop cars patrol like crazy. In the Castro, there is probably one lonely unit roaming the streets and you know the fuzz inside is itching to get a laugh out of watching some Jerry Springer-style hair pulling.
I’m out, about, and wishing you were here.
PS: But not for Pride. Just a regular night with the guys.
PSS: Sadly, not with a random Kenny G saxophone solo.
Apparently, I have a pillow named after you. And each night, I kiss this pillow, make out with it, possibly do things to it that would make one cringe if one were to hang out with me in my room and find said pillow, if it exists — which, in fact, it does not. I’ll admit to owning many pillows (I like sleeping in comfort), but I don’t kiss them or whatever. I mean, if I was 15 again…
I had a nice weekend. What did you do? You know, I’ll never really know the answer to that question. All I’ll ever know is what I see on your official Facebook page, or from word-of-mouth, which I generously receive from my friends, from hardcore baseball fans like Ray and Wolfie, to casual fans who have a soft spot for you, like one of my old City Hall coworkers. I know it’s obvious that I’ll never be in a position to ask you a casual question like How was your weekend?, but something so obvious is also the kind of thing that one usually keeps in a convenient blind spot — and then, out of the blue, the fact of the matter bumrushes you.
I’ll never know who you really are, Linc. The pillow remark was a joke conveyed by some friends I was hanging out with on Saturday night, and then after that, after I gave them a halfway withering stare that I turned into a bunch of giggling at their good-natured ribbing, I started joking about your personality. I had a beer in one hand, and near the other, a slice of pizza, and I said to my friends, “I don’t think he has much of a personality. When he’s not working, he just plays video games.” And then my friends all give me withering looks and go, “We play video games, Joseph. A lot.” Chastened, I duck toward my beer, take a gulp and mumble shyly, “I know.” Then I burp.
I liked how my friends compared themselves to you. In this way, I think, they were trying to say that maybe you do have a personality: that behind the celebrity and the talent, you’re just a regular person. You could have been sitting there with us, late at night at that North Beach pizzeria, just one of the guys (and some gals, like Mary).
Sunday was a lot tamer, as Sundays usually go. Do you ever do brunch? It’s a hugely popular urban habit, but I haven’t regularly done brunch in years — and, you know, I don’t think I miss it. I don’t think I miss the brunch lines and the white women (I don’t know why they’re always white, or Miss Chinatown wannabes) drunk on mimosas. The last time I ever had a Sunday morning routine that didn’t involve stumbling around my kitchen hunting for cereal, it was when I lived in the Outer Richmond district. This was only last year, shortly before the start of the wondrous 2010 season, but it already seems like painfully ancient history. Anyway, each Sunday, I would walk from my house to this amazing little cafe on Balboa Street that would only be open each morning and be closed by noon. They made all their pastries right there in their own little kitchen: delicious and generous servings of muffins and croissants, just enough to stock a small cafe, but never too much to make you feel like it’s all mass-produced. It was like paying a visit to the home of a favorite aunt, or a very neighborly neighbor. I miss that place a lot, Linc. I miss that whole neighborhood. I hate being priced out of what I now know was my ideal life.
Which is an interesting concept, because as much as I see myself settling down here in San Francisco, I also miss my parents very much. I don’t think Filipino families were meant to live apart. It simply isn’t in our culture. This whole standard of being out of the house by the time you’re 18? It wasn’t invented by us. I wonder if that’s why you bought your condo in Seattle, not necessarily because Seattle is where you’re from, but because you have no real interest in being far from your family. If this reasoning is true, then maybe that’s your Filipino side talking, after all. Anyway, I don’t know if I’d ever move back to Maryland. I don’t despise where I grew up as much as I did in those first few years after I left; in fact, I now respect it so much more, and I always enjoy myself whenever I visit. But to spend the rest of my life there? I don’t see it. Well, ideally, I would spend the rest of my life with you, if you’d have me, if you knew of my existence, which you don’t. And that’s okay. Where was I? Oh, yes. I want to make my life in San Francisco.
This devil town is pretty demanding. I have sometimes felt like it’s intentionally trying to boot me out with its skyrocketing cost of living, buses that never come, jobs that never hire. By the time I’ve gotten the life I want, I will probably look back with the feelings of relief and age that can only come from hardscrabble maturation. I didn’t want it to be this way. I didn’t want to become cynical and old, but I am gradually realizing that this is the stuff of life. Maybe “cynical” and “old” are words too harsh, and maybe “learned” would be more positive to describe this process. Maybe this is life itself.
Remember how we spent New Year’s Eve in Our Ballpark? (I can’t believe that I haven’t been back there in so long. Maybe in a month? Over a month?) Anyway, I said to you that maybe the big entrance song for the team on Opening Day this year should be the opening to The Pacific, and then you told me that that song was composed for real heroes, for the soldiers of World War II and the soldiers of today. Remember? Do you still feel that way? I know, Linc. I know that it would be a little wrong to associate that song with a baseball team. But in my mind, even though soldiers are the ultimate heroes, and they have died on so many battlefields, when I listen to that song, all of you are lumped together: baseball players, soldiers, dark islands, muddy trenches, bleachers, turf, bags, the mound, tanks, missiles, a fastball.
You are never going to guess what link Ray forwarded me today. Apparently, MLB is sponsoring a contest for some kind of a dream job. I thought that the webpage for it was kind of funny because it was written up like a job listing, except that I didn’t get the vibe of a traditional hiring. Even though you have to send your resume and answer two essay questions, it’s less of a job application and more of a contest form. Which, I guess, is how all hiring practices are, if I really think about it. Well, who knows? Maybe I’ll get this one.
Check it out, Linc. The confirmation message that comes up after you submit the application:
Thank you for applying to for the MLB FanCave 2011 Dream Job. Please relax in the bullpen while we review your submission.
I didn’t realize until about half an hour later that the context is a little off. Shouldn’t you relax in the dugout instead of the bullpen? The bullpen is for practicing and warming up. If you’re not scheduled to pitch, and if you ain’t on the roster, then the dugout is where you’d hang around. Maybe someone at MLB will hire me to proofread and fact check things like that. That would be pretty cool. I ain’t looking for glamour, Linc. Just a job where I don’t feel butterflies every night before I have to get up for work, a job with a steady paycheck that gives me enough money so that choosing between a ballgame or groceries isn’t choosing between life or death.
If I got this job, I wonder if, eventually, our paths would cross. Many times, I’ve thought about what my first meeting with you would be like. Sometimes I’m comically nervous, tripping over my own feet, allowing myself to be flattened by stationary furniture, my cheeks burning with embarrassment when I finally make my way to shaking your hand. Other times, the learned man is who emerges. He shakes your hand confidently, though his heart threatens to jackhammer right through his chest. His mind races for the right words to inaugurate this moment. All he can think of is, “Hi.”