I think I have screwed up DNA. Amidst those A's, C's, G's and T's I must have a J or an L. You see, I just don't feel guilty. Nope. Sorry. Well, actually I'm not sorry. I don't even feel guilty for not feeling guilty.
The 1980s . . .
My dad scores four Ranger baseball tickets. Dad invites me, my brother-in-law Curt and my boyfriend, John, to go with him. On the day of the game John shows up with his mitt.
I grin. "You brought your mitt?"
"I'm gonna catch a ball." He almost bouncing with excitement.
We have great seats. Right behind the catcher. In front of us, are some Yankees. Not baseball player Yankees, but rather, you know, northerners, fellas rooting for the other team. We give 'em grief, and they give it right back. Yup, we were having ourselves a real good time.
And all the while John sits in the seat next to me punching his fist into his glove.
Now behind us, about 10 rows up are two little old ladies. They are Hollywood type cast: skinny, white-haired, wrinkled, but spry. Nolan Ryan isn't pitching that night, so the rest of the seats are empty. It's just us, the Yankees, and the two grannies.
Up to the plate walks this stocky dude. Whack! The ball flies over the backstop and what do you know, the little old ladies catch the ball. I kid you not. I told you they were spry. Twice more he fouls, then strikes out. As the dude hustles on back to the dugout, an evil idea forms in my mind. Being guiltless I can't resist. It's like trying not to sigh when you drop into the hot tub.
"John," I say adding a dose of southern bell to my Texas accent, "would you get me some nachos?"
He looks at me like I'm the stupidest woman on the planet. With that look, his fate is sealed. I mean, I'm guiltless, but occasionally I do take pity on people. But after that look? Poor, poor John.
"How can you ask me for food at time like this?" he says. "Did you see that foul ball?"
I lean in closer. Oh, did I tell you that I'm cute?
"John," I have the southern bell accent going again, "please." I draw out the word please until its twelve syllables long. I kiss his cheek. "Besides, this is a different batter,” I say. “He's gonna hit that ball somewhere else. You know that."
He sighs. As he gets up, I say, "Leave the mitt."
His eyes narrow, like he's some Neanderthal looking at a creature he's thinking about killing and having for dinner. I hold out my hand and smile, oh, so sweetly. He rolls his eyes and hands me the mitt. Ten seconds later he disappears behind the stands, and I get up to go talk to the sweet little old ladies. Yeah, you got it. They’re not quite as innocent as they look. I ask to borrow their ball. One shakes her head. The other smiles like the Chester Cat. I return to my seat with their ball tucked into the pocket of John's mitt. Below me one of the Yankees says, "You're an evil woman."
I smile at him, oh, so sweetly.
Two batters later, John returns with my nachos. I've still got that borrowed ball snuggled into the pocket of his glove and the glove folded closed around it.
Now, I should pause here and tell you that Dad and Curt haven't said a word. Dad because it's Mom's DNA I inherited and he gave up a long time ago, and Curt because my sister got the DNA too, and Curt believes John needs to be prepared for his future life of agony should he choose to propose.
As John starts to sit down, I proclaim, "John, John, I caught a ball. I caught a ball."
Immediately everyone is paying attention: Dad, Curt, the Yankees, and the little old ladies, but they don't say a word. Nope, not one word.
John rolls his eyes. "Really?"
"Yeah. Really. It just sailed over the net." My eyes go up in the air like I'm watching an imaginary ball. "It came right to me." Here, I pause, for dramatic effect. "Well, actually it came to your seat, but I just reached over and caught it."
"You did?" He rolls his eyes again. I'm getting real tired of that.
"Yes, I caught a ball." I act all excited.
"You caught a ball." Again, with the eyes.
"Yes," I say, like I'm truly hurt that he doesn't believe me. "I caught a ball."
"Well, then." He gets this disgusting smirk on his face. I mean how dumb does he think I am? And he says, "So, where is it?"
My face, my pulse, my sweat glands would have stood up to a CIA lie detector test. I reach into the pocket of that mitt and like I'm so happy I'm about to burst I say, "Here it is."
Oh, the look on his face. Like a little boy whose puppy just died. I almost feel guilty. Really. I ALMOST do. You know, there was this brief twinge of, of, of . . . something. But it disappears.
He sinks dejected into his seat. Those Yankees shake their heads. Ten rows behind me I hear smothered giggles. I get up, and as John watches, I hand that ball back to the little old ladies. Everyone bursts out laughing. My stomach aches from it.
Of course, when I try to sit back down, I have to climb over John. He refuses to move his legs. Doesn't give me any nachos either.