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*We here at Batter's Box are not generally prone to writing fiction. However, the events of the last two days have inspired me to present the following short story.


Oh sure, they said it would be fun, but I was skeptical. As comforted as I was by the prospect of an evening of draught beer, sports-related conversation and latently homoerotic male bonding, I just felt like staying home. I told them that I was planning to watch Monday Night Football alone, to see a geriatric Brett Favre, to chuckle quietly while Tony Kornheiser juxtaposes football and pop culture to the befuddlement of an ignorant Joe Theissman, and, most importantly, to selfishly root for a backdoor cover of the eleven point spread.

The excuse was ostensibly legitimate, but they knew better. Chris passed me a Moosehead, looked directly into my eyes and attempted to feign sympathy. Clearly, he’d drawn the short straw in the car on the way over to my apartment and was duly appointed amateur therapist. I knew what was coming.

“You don’t want to go out tonight because you think that she might be there.”

As impressed as I was that the beer-league therapist delivered a Major League diagnosis, I was in no mood to discuss it. The “she” to whom Chris referred was Greta, a 35 year-old blonde from Glendale, California who was into Guns ‘n’ Roses and had recently triumphed over a substance abuse issue. Greta and I had been together since April, 2004, and had only recently decided to part ways.

I serendipitously first met Greta in an airport lounge in Montreal. I noticed her out of the corner of my eye, turned my neck slightly, and stole a glance. I did this three times before she finally looked up at my attempt to steal a fourth glance and we made eye contact: I’d been caught stealing. In a desperate attempt to strike up conversation, I asked her what she was doing in Montreal. She sighed and explained to me that she had come to the city for a job interview only to find out via cell phone call when her plane landed that her prospective employer had moved its offices to Washington. She was clearly frustrated. Since 2000, she’d lived in Kansas City, then Houston, then Colorado.

From that first meeting, Greta and I developed a relationship. By April, it was clear that we would be together. Greta was the highlight of what was an otherwise dismal summer that year. I suffered an inordinate number of small injuries over the course of the summer and generally underperformed on the job. I had been the third best salesperson at work every year since 1998, but suddenly fell to fifth. So unfortunate was I in the summer of 2004 that my friends would refer to it as the Season from Hell. Greta was my saving grace that year.

She clearly appreciated the tangible benefit of positive morale, to the point where she was utterly intolerant of even rational pessimism. Last year, I went on a canoe trip with Greta and my friend Shane. We had packed a lunch, which was in a knapsack in the centre of the canoe, and noon was approaching. Suddenly, Shane proclaimed that he was hungry and stood up on his end of the canoe so that he could walk to the centre to retrieve the knapsack and, ultimately, a plate of food. So excited was Shane to fill his plate, that he did not realize that his actions would alter the otherwise steady gait of our canoe. In fact, it was Shane’s lack of plate patience that caused our vessel to start taking on water. Rather than get angry with Shane, Greta immediately attempted to steady our canoe and bail out the incoming water. Greta was so focused and intent on keeping us afloat that she only grew angry with Shane when he rightly (albeit needlessly) proclaimed that our canoe was a sinking ship.

My immaturity and fear to commit were the likely causes of our eventual breakup. I knew that, in two years, she would be 37. She knew that she could get a two-year commitment elsewhere and things began to unravel. She wanted more than I could offer and I had always been susceptible to the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. Just last February, for example, I had a brief and ill-advised affair with an overweight Puerto Rican woman.

I looked at Chris, my friend/amateur therapist, and said, “I’ll go if it means that I don’t have to answer your question.”

Within minutes of our arrival at the bar, it was clear that my friends had decided that the best way for me to forget about the breakup was to have me fail miserably in various attempts to make small talk with other women. Great cure for depression, that. My friends were adamant, though, “We’re coming back here in the first week of December and we want you to have replaced Greta by that winter meeting.”

I decided that, perhaps, I would give their method a serious try. Chris was right with his diagnosis after all, so maybe I should trust him on the prescription, I thought. Just then, I was approached by two women simultaneously. Clearly, they were at the bar together. I was instantly attracted to one, but only the other one spoke. We started talking and I steered the conversation to her relatively untalkative friend. It was clear to me that the one with whom I was speaking wielded a great deal of influence with the one who I desired. I got both of their names, but I was only interested in Robin, who I learned was a 31 year-old from Ontario, California on vacation from her home in Arlington, Texas and contemplating a move.

In what could only be described as bizarrely fortuitous development, it appeared as though Robin’s friend was setting me up to go on a date with Robin. We even discussed specific details of Robin’s plans for that particular evening. Excitedly, and with a certain amount of macho pride, I walked over to my friends’ table and explained to them the deal that I had apparently brokered with Robin via her friend.

When I went back over to Robin’s table, her friend was gone. Before I could ask why, another friend of Robin’s appeared. There was some whispering to which I was not privy, followed by the new companion explaining to me that Robin was reconsidering her plans. Clearly, Robin’s new friend had informed her that she could perhaps do better than what I had to offer.

And just like that, it was over.

I walked slowly back to my friends’ table, half embarrassed and half angry. Reprising his role as amateur therapist, Chris euphemistically declared that Robin would not have “passed the physical” in any event and that I was better off not having gotten “more than a handshake”. My other friend, Warren, noted Robin’s poor handling of the evening’s situation, “she was way off-base”, he said.

Warren was right, of course. Between Robin’s change of heart and her inexplicable switching of intermediaries, it was clear that she had approached the situation with something less than good faith and was in fact decidedly “off-base”, as Warren put it. I began to agree with my friends that I was likely better off without Robin, as I have always preferred women who were “on-base” a large percentage of the time.

That’s when it happened. Chris’ statement from earlier that evening turned from diagnosis to prophecy as Greta walked into the room. I walked up to her, foregoing any attempt to appear cool or under control.

“You were always my first choice”, I said, “I want to commit to you; I want to be with you and I don’t care if you’ll be 37 in two years.”

She accepted and we left the bar together that night. The fear of being without her began to subside and was going, going, zaun by the time that reality set in. We have been together ever since. I have not been this happy since I dated this girl Pat back in the early nineties, but that is another story for another time.
Catcher on the Sly or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Catcher | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
CSHunt68 - Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 11:56 AM EST (#159305) #

*hearty applause*

Well done. :)

SNB - Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 12:46 PM EST (#159312) #
Oooh, that was painfully punny but clever nevertheless.
VBF - Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 01:03 PM EST (#159319) #
That was great!
Dave Rutt - Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 01:22 PM EST (#159323) #
Your friend Warren seems surprisingly insightful for somebody named Warren.
TimberLee - Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 03:10 PM EST (#159333) #
I wouldn't get too excited about your chances with Greta. What do we know about her past? I didn't catcher last name, and I don't know a whitt about her real intentions. In fact, this whole tale borders on the ridiculous.
Rob - Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 03:52 PM EST (#159338) #
I don't think TimberLee is right. You should igknorr him and go after a woman who admyers you, lest you parrish alone. In fact, buck the trend and take a honeymoon in Santiago, near the sandy (or angelic) beaches. It's expensive, but it's only cash, which is replaceable.
Geoff - Thursday, November 30 2006 @ 12:04 AM EST (#159453) #
Just the image of the affair with an overweight Puerto Rican woman (Gia was her name?) made the fiction well worth the read. I'm surprised that there's no mention of Greta's strength of character to overcome that episode in the relationship's history.

And I'm very glad the story didn't turn out that Greta went back to her old flame in Kansas City. That dude was bad news.
Named For Hank - Thursday, November 30 2006 @ 12:33 AM EST (#159459) #
I am printing up I HEART LEIGH shirts for anyone who'd like one.

Fawaz - Thursday, November 30 2006 @ 01:10 AM EST (#159466) #
*TEAR*. It's just beautiful. I hope to see a ring on Greta's hand soon.
Catcher on the Sly or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Catcher | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.