As I have written previously, in order to avoid shrine jokes and general accusations of fanboy creepiness I have always endeavored to display my baseball memorabilia tactfully or otherwise just askew from plain sight. In fact, following the bedbug scandal, I have become a bit of a minimalist. If I am in the mood to flatter myself, I can say that my newfound style reflects the same decor of your Seattle condo as depicted on that CSN documentary that aired a while back. But I am a bookseller and an aspiring if unpublished author who rents a friend’s living room; at best, one can say the style is all my own, and at worst, that I can’t afford style.
Which is not to say that I got rid of my Giants memorabilia — no, wait. That’s a lie. Brace yourself: I threw out the newsclippings I collected of the 2010 World Series, and remembering that I had thrown them out, I didn’t bother collecting any newclippings from this past series.
I know: blaspheme! Sacrilege!
I can describe to you my thought process when I was confronted with the newsclippings during the height of the scandal, when we had engaged in our sudden burst of autumnal spring cleaning. I thought to myself: well, I have never gotten around to buying a scrapbook for these things, and who knows if I ever will? I sure as hell will never have the money to properly frame them. Also, the newsclippings (as well as magazines, catalogs, and other media related to the 2010 series) were all in bad shape from being stuffed away. I have never been a collector, Linc; rather, I’m more like a packrat, and one that knows when it is time to part with the extra junk, the over weight.
I will now have to look back to memories to recall the 2010 World Series. Oh certainly, I have pictures saved on my computer, but so much else has been tossed out; if it were possible to mortgage the past, then I have placed my bets on the reliability of recollection. Of course, I kept all the bobbleheads. One of those bobbleheads is of you from the 2011 season. It’s on my computer desk. I never did that before. Previously, I grouped all the bobbleheads together on the topmost shelf of a bookcase, so as to display them proudly — and also, out of sight. But after the bedbug scandal had cleared and we were regrouping, it was Clara who unpacked your 2011 bobblehead and perched it at the corner of my computer desk.
"Oh, you can just put there over there," I said absently, while I was unpacking other things. I pointed to the bookshelf where we had restored the other bobbleheads.
"Why?" she said.
She was already positioning your bobblehead on my desk. “It’s Lincecum. Don’t you want him here while you write?”
I remember laughing at her, very casually saying “okay,” perhaps even feeling my cheeks go hot but not quite blushing, and then concerning myself with whatever was in the box I was sifting through. Ever since then, however, sitting down to my computer has been a new experience. I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner.
All right, for starters, the bobblehead is still in the box; I never unpacked it, so what is actually displayed is the original packaging just as I had received it. (I didn’t get it from a ballgame, actually. Remember Donna? From my old job?) Instead of a toy figure of your likeness, each time I sit at the computer I get to see an actual photo of you on the side of the box. You are on the mound and you have just launched a pitch. Your right leg hangs in the air and though your visage is heavily concealed by the brim of your cap, we know that your gaze is possessed with the computerized accuracy of those military drones that are lately making the news — and you look so, so beautiful. Don’t let your masculinity be challenged by my use of that word, Linc. When they are in the throes of their athletics — football, running, basketball, and every once in a while soccer — all athletes are beautiful.
Have you ever heard of the Missed Connections category on Craigslist? It gets mocked a lot. I think there may even be a documentary about it on Netflix — which has lately become a den of iniquity in terms of content. In the aftermath of so many studios and networks either limiting or outright pulling their content, Netflix now has this bloated inventory of middling documentaries but that I watch anyway out of fascination over how anyone with a camera, some choice angles, the occasional shot in black and white, and a narration track believes they are a filmmaker. But that’s another story for another day.
I did use Missed Connections but that was many years ago, right when it was on the cusp of mockery. I thought about it earlier this week. Winter was in full effect. I had just escaped a downpour and managed to grab myself a seat on the train to work. A few stops later, this guy boarded. In contrast to the ideals in these never-to-be-sents, particularly my idealistic notions of you, as well as my stubborn attachment to romantic comedies, this guy was rather plain. He had full cheeks and bit of a beefy frame, a simple buzz cut, and looked like he wouldn’t really stand out from, say, Comic Con — also, when he sat down, he took out a copy of Game of Thrones to read. Although I like the TV show, I am not into the books. (I do not like the writing style.)
I couldn’t help sneaking glances. I suppose it could be said that he fits a certain type that I like in guys. But although I did not like the book that he was reading, I liked that he was reading — and reading a rather hearty paperback, to boot. This to me seemed smart and aware and he looked decent and I was very compelled to ask him out. I shut my eyes and gave myself a pep talk: Okay, Joseph. At the next stop, we will get up and introduce ourselves.
'Hi. I was wondering if I could call you sometime?'
'Hi. Want to grab a cup of coffee sometime?'
No. Too creepy. Say ‘hi’ first. And then… compliment the book?
No, that’s a lie. I don’t like those books.
He has a nice smile. I wonder what he’s smiling about.
Look away! Look away!
Oh God, did he me looking at him?!
Whew. OK. Next stop. We will do this at the next stop.
Suddenly, at the next stop, a flood of passengers boarded the train. The guy in question was still in my line of sight but now I would have to cut through a forest of drenched passengers. And for what? To risk rejection? I couldn’t do it. Possibly this was what Ray used to describe as “paralysis by analysis,” but whatever was going on, what resulted was a whole lot of nothing. I’ll probably never see him again.
While you were helping lead the team back to first place yesterday, I was on vacation and thinking about work — but not in a mournful way.
All this time during Comic Con, whenever I’ve met an especially talented artist, I couldn’t help but think about how their material would make great product for the bookstore. And when I say “artist,” I mean comic book artists, some writers and even these guys who found success making their own board games — yep, these are all things that can and have been sold at our bookstore; it’s just a matter of convincing my bosses that enough of them can be sold for us to stock them in the first place. Anyway, I’ve only been at my job for a few weeks and already I’m feeling the ups and downs of the grind of even a dream job, but I guess reality has to invade everything. This must be what it feels like to get married. Still, I count my lucky stars that I have the kind of job that I can think about during Comic Con and it’s not a bad thing.
Actually, I wasn’t even at Comic Con yesterday. We weren’t able to get passes for Saturday and for a while I didn’t know what to do with myself. The guys didn’t want to make any long term plans but when I’m on vacation I like to have a little bit of a set plan alongside a little spontaneity. One morning during this vacation, we happened to have the TV tuned to one of the local news broadcasts and they were doing a story on some event called Gam3rcon. According to the story, it was a smaller con running satellite to Comic Con. When I pulled up Gam3rcon’s website, I thought it was the perfect alternative to Comic Con, at least on a Saturday, because in addition to having, well, games, they also had panels and other stuff to do that was like Comic Con’s schedule but smaller and more manageable.
There’s no denying what a monstrosity Comic Con has become and I think that in order to survive in San Diego, they’re going to have to decide whether or not to let go of the smaller elements that defined their former existence as the “comic” part of the con. It would be unrealistic to hope that they will pare down their involvement with Hollywood, so that being said, to keep them in San Diego — every year they threaten to move to a bigger venue, mostly horrible places like LA or Vegas (no one likes L.A. because, well, it’s L.A., and while I do enjoy going to Vegas, it’s not the place I’d like to go to for Comic Con) — I think that Comic Con should work with Gam3rcon and they can somehow co-exist so that Comic Con can shift its focus to all the marquee stuff and share the smaller stuff with Gam3rcon. Anyway, I’ve now rambled on about a slice of life of which you likely have little to no awareness, although sometimes I do daydream about something silly and unerotic such as you sitting around thinking, I’ve always wanted to go to Comic Con…
Gam3rcon was fun. They have this “video game lounge” that’s set up in a space that normally functions as a theatre. PC games were set up in the stadium seats and the ground floor and stage had all the consoles. I am not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, Linc, but the idea of paying just $12 for an entire day of sitting in there to play unfamiliar titles like Metal Gear Solid 4 and League of Legends was absolutely intriguing to me — yes, the day pass was only twelve bucks! I was going to try my hand at Battlefield 1942 but I chickened out just even clicking on the desktop shortcut for it. I thought to myself, The hell? I’m not a gamer. But that’s the thing. Sitting in that lounge, I got a taste for it and now I am imagining buying either my own console or a PC, or both, and just playing games in my spare time in my real life so that I can come back to this lounge and not feel so out of place. But that won’t happen anytime soon, because gaming is an expensive hobby, and I’m already having enough trouble catching up to the expenses and hobbies I do have.
Speaking of daydreams, sometimes I find myself thinking that our unconnected lives might be running parallel to each other and will eventually intersect. Although the intersection likely will never happen, it helps me get through the day to think that here I am, enjoying my vacation and also networking for a job that I love, while in another life you’re you’re doing you’re thing for a job that you love, too. Anyway, it doesn’t have to all be about you. Heh. Because hopefully this is probably the case for my boyfriend/future husband, wherever he his and whomever he might be. While you were doing that, I was…
Do you remember that one Roberta Flack song? Not “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which is beautiful and a masterpiece, but the duet she did called “Tonight I Celebrate My Love”? That song is also beautiful, but I always cringe momentarily because, well, it’s just so cheesy. Despite the fact that I’ve heard that song all my life, still I giggle at the lyrics, and I think the entire song would be outright laughable in the hands of other singers. But then the hopeless romantic in me takes over and I always ultimately decide that it’s a gorgeous moment of romance. The reason why I’m bringing it up is because it’s a song I haven’t heard in a long time, or at least remember hearing — perhaps it was playing in the background recently, at a store or some restaurant, and I wasn’t conscious of it. In any case, it suddenly materialized at the very end of a dream last night. Because it happened at the end of a dream, I can only recall vague and very few details: you were there, of course and yes, I think I was giggling at the song. But when I woke up, I was a little bit somber and thought how cruel of my mind to do that to me, to resurrect a forgotten song for a lover I will never have.
Which explains some of the things I’ve been doing at Comic Con this year. Not only have I laid off on attending the crazier mob scenes and attended smaller panels — for example, though I have been seeing it on the schedule for years, it’s only now that I’ve attended, and discovered how much I enjoy, the Comic Arts Conference series of panels (the simplest way to describe them is that they are like going to class, so go ahead and make fun of me for being a nerd and a geek!) — I’ve also been a little more outgoing.
The reason why conventions like Comic Con and WonderCon work so well for me is because they are inherently introverted. I attend those events specifically to escape, and by “escape,” I mean to read comics, to attend panels, or to browse the exhibition hall — all of which can certainly be done with friends but are most enjoyable alone. My attendance at Comic Con this year is my fifth year but it also marks the year I have turned 30, and now my priorities and goals are different. At this stage, Comic Con is like going to work or attending church in that these places still serve their original respective purposes but now with the added hope of meeting that special someone. But if you’re truly curious, Linc, the truth is that so far these three main environments in my life have not produced any candidates. I do have gay coworkers, but they are older (and quite queenly); and this year’s Comic Con, while promising, did not produce any romantic interests. Anyway, it’s a vacation: the most I could hope for was a hookup, which I guess would’ve been fine, but that didn’t happen, either.
I joked to Spencer that I wasn’t sure about going to Comic Con next year.
"I’m getting married," I said.
Spencer was matter-of-fact but philosophical when she asked, “Who’s the lucky guy?”
I shrugged. “Nobody. But I’ll be 31. I should be planning for that, not Comic Con.”
I still want to go to Comic Con next year, though.
Quite a few people I know are either vacationing in Europe right now or are planning on it soon. I gotta say, when I think of interesting places to vacation, Europe is not really one of the first places I think of. Not many of my years were marked with the longing proclamation, “I want to see Paris someday.” It wasn’t until I read The Historian some years ago that I really wanted to go to Europe. It took a novel, a story of fiction, for me to generate the interest that my friends and acquaintances have always seemed to possess. If I want to be especially nerdy, I can also say that I wish I could time travel to Europe like the scientists in The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.
July 10 is an especially active day this year. Tomorrow is Ma’s birthday. It is also the day of this year’s All-Star Game. And it is the day that I leave for Comic Con. I already have it in my mind to check out when I leave tomorrow. I am going to immerse myself fully into the mode not only of vacation, but of the happy geek. For several days, I will enter a world where my notions of storytelling are not voided by real life. For a little while, I just want to forget, Linc — and maybe “forget” is too unsympathetic a word, because I don’t want to disregard my life and the wonderful people I’ve met and the experiences that have shaped me. But I want something different. That’s not so bad, is it? That I want to try something else that isn’t rushing to work, paying for a bill or some other struggle of the day that one must endure until sleep, just to endure the process all over again?
You will notice that I have now gone two paragraphs without mentioning yesterday’s game. I found out the ugly news only at the end of the day, and the box score told me all that I needed to know. I don’t know what you’ve said to the press. All I know is the numbers and who is listed as LP.
After work, I reunited with some old chums from that literary magazine I used to intern for back during World Series year. We now have plans to reconvene regularly to exchange our writings, and though the emphasis is on poetry, I am by no means a poet. I appreciate the form and all their poets, but whenever I try to write in that form, all I end up with are my own giggles. I have enough trouble writing prose. Anyway, the reason why I am in a poetry group is mainly for the friends, the colleagues who I now enjoy seeing outside of the magazine. And guess what? I took a never-to-be-sent and reworked it into a creative nonfiction essay. Maybe “reimagined” is a good word, too, because the basic structure and many of the same ideas are in the new essay, but the essential foundation is the meandering line of thought that I had directed at you.
But I also presented the group with a poem. I thought, What the hell? I may as well. They’re my friends anyway, so they won’t judge too harshly. The funny thing is that we never got around to evaluating my essay. We spent time on each of our poems, and of course, on my poem I sat mostly red-faced with my head down on the table while my friends just grinned at me and offered little in the way of constructive criticism, just appreciation that I had braved to even offer something in the shape of a poem, and amusement over the circumstances.
I wrote the poem after I slept with Adae. Isn’t that so typical, Linc? I write a poem after sex. Had this happened in high school, maybe it would not be such a hilariously big deal. Instead, I was a 29-year old who had just lost his virginity. And here is what I was thinking the morning after. Here goes:
Believe in pheromones after all, what do you see in me? Yet here we are and you smell like the man I knew.
Naked the blinds surf on ghostly wind and Shadows of this night are what I’ll remember best.
Your body, a phantom of fantasy that I always dreamed would lie next to me Yet it was never you, exactly. I could have never imagined you.
Something about me was right. Shape? Personality? That thing I do when something is so funny, a snort is the only reaction at least for me.
How did I end up here. It’s not a question.
Hey lover, thank you.
All right. Go on, crack up. Come at me, bro. Come at me.
So yesterday at work, I took a phone order from a guy who gave his name that sounded familiar. I thought to myself but did not tell the customer, Ha ha, that’s the name of…
And then the customer showed up later to pick up his order, and he didn’t just have the same name as the famous person who had come to mind. It was really him.
I was star struck but my coworkers were not, either because they did not recognize him as immediately as I had, or perhaps they were all used to this sort of thing happening. Either way, I took after them and played it cool, even though my mind was racing with multiple variants of OMG, OMFG! Also racing through my mind was the assertion, even the admonishment, of how this famous person might only want to be treated like any other customer, so I let him be. He was very friendly when he paid for his book, and then afterward, he went to browse some more. He likes to read about history, which I guess shouldn’t surprise me considering what he is famous for, and after I finished being sticken, what was truly marvelous and pleasing was how he stood the history section for a little while carefully reading his new book, turning the pages only gradually, taking his time. It made me wonder how I would feel if you casually strolled into the store the way he did. I would like to think that I’d also leave you be. It’s good customer service. It’s polite and proper, and besides, I’ve written these never-to-be-sents for so long that I could probably go on for many more years writing about the one time we met.
After my run this morning, I stopped by Starbucks for some chocolate milk and a peanut butter bagel. My body craves a lot of different things after I run, but today I really, really wanted peanut butter for some reason. And when I ate that bagel topped with that peanut butter, oooh, girl, nothing ever tasted so good!
If you’ve ever wondered what “kind” of gay I am, it’s OK. I know that that sort of thing is a touchy subject, but hey, we’re only human — you were bound to wonder. So, the fact that I said “oooh, girl” just now, well, it’s not something I do often, but when the moment is right, girl, I am swaying and lisping every which way. Like just now, when I posted on my Facebook a link to an article about that Sandy Alderson trash talking Giants fans. I said on my post: “Girl, please. Take your silver foxed balding behind and Walk. It. Off.”
That’s pretty gay, huh? It sure is! And you know, I will sass Mr. Alderson and anyone else who dares to come at me. And for the truly deserving, “sass” can also mean “punch in the face.”
I’ve been killing myself running up some intense hills lately. By “killing myself,” I mean that in the “hurts so good” way. Every so often, though, I find myself surprised by this sudden transformation of eating better, running regularly and even cutting back on drinking (hell, I haven’t had a beer in… I can’t remember when I last had a beer, not that there’s anything wrong with beer!).
What surprises me the most is how when I got involved with Adae, I wasn’t doing any of this. Nowadays, in addition to all that I just said I’m doing, I’m also friggin getting mani/pedis (whenever I can afford to). I mean, I’m finally getting back on track as far as taking care of myself. But when Adae was in my life, I drank pretty regularly and I sure has hell didn’t run, not even once a week. I had totally let myself give it up, and I had totally let my body go. Just what the hell did he see in me? My friends tell me that maybe Adae had a thing for guys with a little extra weight. Some of my other friends try to do the whole encouragement bit and say that he saw “the inner me,” hah. And still others, like me, believe that maybe he just enjoyed my company, the fact that we could kick it with a few beers and if we got tipsy and had sex with each other afterward, cool…
Now I find myself in what many consider to be ideal circumstances, yet I’ve lost touch with Adae and I really haven’t been able to find someone else. This morning, I ran past the Blackthorn, that bar where I would go after work at my old job to drink my troubles away and also hope to engage some guy in conversation with the same result that unfolded with Adae. It never happened and mostly I was there just to drink. When I ran past the bar today, I smiled a little and thought that it was perfectly OK not to have been in there for a while. I won’t rule out that I would love to go back and hang out there again sometime, but for now I’m good without it.
It has been a dizzying year, Linc. Here’s the rundown of 2012 so far:
I thought I was in love with Ray.
I’m kind of over that now. (By “kind of,” I mean that sometimes I like to throw a sex joke at him, just to make him squirm for my own amusement — and because I’m a guy and I’m pretty much always horny.)
Got promoted at work.
Got sucked into that entire world — schmoozing, networking, hanging out with coworkers and generally leading a strange parallel life alongside everything that I always considered to be “me.”
Realized that that parallel world and I weren’t right for each other.
And now here I am, training for a marathon and working at a bookstore.
I wonder what I would do if Adae suddenly popped back into my life. For someone I slept with months ago, I think of him quite often. I guess I’m a stereotype in a lot of ways, including that irksome kind in which I develop an emotional attachment to someone I sleep with. But Adae was my first, so at least I have that excuse.
I crack myself up — no, really I do. It’s some sort of illness. For example, lately I have taken to paring down my foul mouth (despite all the sexual innuendo I still make about, ahem, you). My favorite cuss replacement as of late is “rats!” This morning, something happened and I said “curses!” And then I cracked up at that. Curses! It doesn’t sound very serious, does it?
How are you feeling? How do you usually feel after a day at work when you didn’t do so well? I wonder if every “morning after” — not the good kind, but the one that sucks when it comes after a bad day on the job — feels like a new one, because you never quite get used to the feeling of disappointment. As I have written in prior never-to-be-sents, I’ll never really know what’s going on in your head so I have to assume by projection of mine. I am only a few weeks into my new job but I have already accumulated the requisite number of good days and bad days.
Yesterday was a good day. My position is retail but because I am an events coordinator, there is also some office time. I have to admit that I enjoy the retail part a little bit more than the office part. I love being on my feet, roaming the sales floor and helping customers, engaging them. I also like being on registers. Actually, for quite some time I had already decided that I like being on registers, but I have been afraid to admit it for fear that once I do, some horrible customer service experience will instantly materialize to make me regret my admission. (Like many baseball players, I, too, am superstitious.) The bad part about being on registers is that I’m bad at math, and I am intimidated by money. Customers naturally want their transactions to be quick and accurate, so for every transaction that I go through, my heart quickens.
That’s a lot of work for my heart.
Yesterday alone, the morning had started off slowly and then exploded some time after lunch. (I am not sure why the timing worked out that way. I would have expected there to be a rush of business during 12, not a little past 1. I guess it’s kind of like that old saying about how a hush falls over a crowd every 20 minutes, or whatever.) The store was in that awkward moment between shifts when my coworkers are going and the next batch is still arriving, so for a good while I was alone at the registers. When I finally got some backup, and then was soon relieved by the next shift, the feeling that I left with was, I gotta say: it was a rush! Ringing up all those customers, accurately counting all that cash, swiping all those credit cards, bagging all those books and all the while keeping a smile on my face and pressing onward with engaging conversation even while my mind is on a million different things — I can’t believe I did it! And this will be my job, for at least 32 hours a week, which is the bottom end of full time, although I am creeping upward over the summer and according to the schedule that my boss has laid out, I will be somewhere closer to 35 by August. Woo.
That was a good day — or, well, one part of that day was good. A good portion of the day was also spent being anxious about how to interact with one of my coworkers, who is one of those types you can never tell if they’re being sarcastic or not, or if sarcasm is their way of showing that they appreciate you. When I was in my 20s — wow, I make myself sound so elderly — I used to be a bitch. I really didn’t have a problem speaking my mind and telling people off. I burned a lot of bridges. But I have found that as I have gotten older, and now at 30, that I am becoming a softie. I’ve become really sensitive, Linc. I can’t handle sarcasm as well as I used to. Although I still do reserve the right to tell the truly deserving that they can shove a brick up their ass sideways, I feel like that part of me stayed behind in my teens and 20s and is now a visitor rather than a citizen. So, about that coworker, well, I get anxious about that as much as I get anxious about handling the cash. I’m just gonna have to work on it.
I know, I know. None of this compares with being knocked out in the fourth.
There’s an acquaintance I’ve made recently who is an illustrator. He’s come out with a handful of comic books, and I was skimming through one of them not really paying as much attention to the story as I was to the great artwork. I landed on a page where the main character (I think) is opening his mail and the comic bubble above him says, “Another letter from Mildred.” In the next panel, the main character sets it aside, unopened, and the comic bubble says, I think, that he will say a prayer for her.
Even though I don’t know the context of what happened there, it stayed with me because I thought of you and these never-to-be-sents. Oh, look. Another never-to-be-sent from Joe. No one’s reading, least of all you.
Happy 4th of July, Linc. On this day in the summer of 2009, the Giants played at home and you started. I was there. I remember Randy Winn’s double. After you ran across home plate, I texted to all of my friends, “My husband scored! My husband scored!”
Written in the format of unsent (“never-to-be-sent”) letters to San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, Baseball 2.0 discusses baseball, the world and life — though baseball could be considered to be all of the above. In particular, there is special emphasis on baseball and life through the author’s background as a gay Filipino.
All that introspection is time consuming, so there’s not a lot of opportunity to hope that Tim (variously and vaguely referred to as either “the Avatar” or “Linc,” not really because of movies or video games but due to the author’s personal superstition/belief about the power of names) actually writes back — which he likely wouldn’t, anyway.
I’m not foolish enough to believe that what I see in my dreams could translate into literal truth; if that were the case, in high school at some point I should have seen Ray Walston standing atop a cliff overlooking the intersection of three great rivers plunging from apertures breaking through the surrounding sky. Do you even know who Ray Walston is?
But lately you have been making more appearances in my dreams. The odd thing about my fandom of you has always been how my subconscious doesn’t think about you, at least in ways that I can remember. Last night, the latest dream had me walking to the clubhouse but sidelined at the threshold by a fateful conversation you and Brian Wilson were having on the bench at your locker.
"Do you really wanna marry him?" he asked you. "Look at his letters, man. You’ll be stuck for life. You’ve got no room to get out. You can’t —" here, he became sotto voce " — you can’t cheat."
"Right," you said plainly. "Isn’t that the whole point of marriage?"
Right after that, I woke up.
Presently, I’m riding the bus and sitting next to a woman intently flipping the pages of a book called In Search of Profits. What a world we live in! Earlier at work, I spotted a book called The Man Who Quit Money. At first the title of that latter book caught my eye, but when I read about that man’s life, I realized that I didn’t want to be the man who quit money. Nor do I want to be in search of profits. Instead, I want to read. And go fishing. And take Pop and Ma out to dinner.