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April 1, 2012 | BASEBALL, Fiction

Out In The World

Curtis Dawkins

Out In The World photo

Renteria almost hits one out in the bottom of the ninth of a 3-3 game against Cleveland. It’s been a nightmare season of almosts for Detroit. Still, I watch them every single night. Inge pops up to second and a cameraman zooms in on a young woman: pretty, her tan legs propped up on the seat in front of her. She’s wearing a college sweatshirt, a Big Ten school, though I’m not sure anyone still calls it the Big Ten anymore. Next to her is a boy, her boyfriend, I figure. And next to him is his brother, their mom and dad. It’s obvious the four of them are related, just as obvious she’s not. She is texting someone, a girl, her best friend, Marcie, I imagine. She’s texting Marcie about the classes she’s taking first semester, which begins in a couple weeks at the Big Ten School represented in large letters across her shirt. She keeps typing as the game goes into extra innings. Sure, I’m scared, she writes Marcie. But I’m excited, too.

An Indian hits a homerun in the top of the tenth. They didn’t have texting when I was on the outside. I understand the concept, though. I talk by phone to people out there. I have a fourteen-year-old son who, according to his mother, “texts his life away.” I taught the boy to box when he was younger. Now he trains at a famous gym in Portland and I write him letters. It’s all I can do.

They go to the bottom of the tenth. Cleveland’s up by one.

Do they have a little typewriter pad like my old electronic dictionary, these texters, or is it a regular phone pad where you flip through menus of available letters? I wonder. I understand the concept but not the specifics.

I know what the almost co-ed is typing to her BFF. She’s going to dump his ass as soon as she gets to college. I mean, he’s nice and all, we’ve had fun, but I’m like, eighteen. I can’t be tied down. She doesn’t type the obvious: how pretty she is, how doors just seem to open, how she’ll have a million friends and guys calling her, texting her, how she’ll go to parties and not remember him, how she’ll forget all this. But her grades will be good and she’ll either fall in love for real or go to law school. It’d be a whole different story if Steve or Joe, Sinbad or whatever his name is (she’s already beginning to forget), were going to the Big Ten School, too. But he couldn’t even get in. He says he’s going to Junior College, but he’s not even 100% on that. It’s obvious to her, though he doesn’t think it is. He thinks he’s fooling her, along with himself.

The Tigers go down easily, 3 up, 3 down. They lose again. They’re not even going to finish this year at .500. He doesn’t know yet she’s going to leave him. He thinks she likes baseball, too. She doesn’t. It’s boring, stupid. She will never like baseball, ever. People are leaving, going home. She says goodbye to Marcie, who is not going to the Big Ten School in the fall either, but that’s different. She and Marcie will always be best friends. It’s not even a question.

He takes her hand. They are exiting Comerica Park. She lets him. She smiles at him, even, thanks him for taking her tonight. She lets him believe in something a while longer. She’ll forget about this night pretty soon. He won’t. He’ll keep the ticket stub. He’ll enjoy watching that kid Cabrera, who’s knocked in a hundred runs every year his first five years in the Majors, who’ll get to the Hall of Fame if he stays healthy.

The girl’s phone rings. She lets go of his hand, types a few words, which seem to me a little like a postmodern poet – Wallace Stevens, for one. Or Elliot, whom I love. I admire that use of language. I understand it, though it’s beyond my ability to perform. Like texting would be if I were out in the world. I would see all these people around me, typing on their little keypads with ease. But some of us just can’t get it, and after a while we don’t even try anymore. We’re out of touch, in our own world. We sit there in love while she’s already written the end in sparse, abbreviated language we will never understand.


 

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image: Valerie Molloy


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