Baseball. It’s my own fault. My birthday was last Wednesday but I told mom I didn’t want to do anything that day.
What’d you like to do then? / I’d like to go the game Friday / The game? really? / I know mom, but I just thought I should try it again. I mean, I never used to like olives but I do now… / Okay hon, the ball game it is. Happy birthday, Christopher.
She ruffled my hair and walked back to check the messages that had stacked up on the phone.
What is fifteen-years-old anyway? It’d be different if I was living out in the country. I heard out there they let their kids drive around at like, thirteen. That’d be cool, living out there in the country, lying down in the fields with one of those big old pieces of grass or whatever it is just bouncing around between my teeth. Yeah, I could see myself laying back with my hands behind my head and a pair of those overalls with the straps.
When I told my mom she said I’d miss Frontera too much. It’s a Mexican place out in Norcross. Maybe she’s right; I do love Frontera. But at least I’d have my tractor and I could take it out on the road and just hold the traffic up all the way.
I heard a rumor in school that they wanted to make you wait until seventeen to get your driver’s license. Seventeen? Georgia sucks, you can’t even buy firecrackers. What kind of State doesn’t allow people to buy firecrackers? It’s totally unpatriotic to not be able to buy firecrackers. That’s why I’m at the game.
Turner Field home of the Atlanta Braves brings you the Friday night Fireworks in association with Home Depot!
Mom was right, I’ve never liked baseball. Never really liked any sports. I kinda like softball though. I like to watch it when they show it on TV sometimes. It’s the way those girls pitch. Ha! Man, it’s so weird.
One day I saw this old band. It was a documentary and the guitarist played like he was pitching softball. Then the drummer just blew up his drum kit – BOOM! I thought, you know what? that makes softball cool. Baseball is not cool. On the way in people were tailgating. I don’t have anything against tailgating really, just some of the people that do it; especially those kids with expensive trucks and all those girls who pick apart their hot dog buns into little pieces and sit there eating like some baby bird. There was this black guy who was selling tickets outside and he had a tattoo of Georgia underneath his eye. I wanted him to just rob them, rob them all with their coolers and grills, or at least go scare the shit out of them. Then I thought that might be racist…
…okay, let me put it this way: Pete Bostic at school can run down the stats of nearly all the Major League players. I told him
Wait till you get to college, Pete, the chicks are going to be all over you / Yeah, you think so? / Sure, Pete, when you roll off Jeff Francoeur’s TBs for the season they’ll just be drippin’, man / Fuck you Chris… you only say that because Jeff Francoeur is the only player you know / Pete, you want your mom to fuck Jeff Francoeur, you want his big French cock – / FUCK YOU CHRIS! He’s not even French.
Under his breath I’m sure I heard him say two-eighty-five. He just couldn’t resist. Like I said, baseball is not cool.
Firecrackers are cool though. But if you want to see them in Georgia it’s always some lame 4th of July display or such a hassle that it kinda ruins the whole experience.
There were some kids at a Cinco de Mayo party a few years back that had some and that was amazing. They were just throwing them around everywhere and people were clapping and cheering but mom made me get in the car to watch.
This year we went to Frontera for Cinco de Mayo but the party wasn’t so good. They had this crappy piñata up and all the kids were missing it. They didn’t even have a mariachi. There was this one kid though, he must have been like four or five and he just took his blindfold off and pulled it down and starting kicking the shit outta the thing. His mom started shouting and came over and the other kids looked confused and a little girl started crying. I thought, that kid has this whole thing worked out and he’s probably not even in elementary school yet. And then I felt kinda bad for him because he’d have to wait even longer than me to get what he wanted. I raised my Sprite to him and pretended it was a frozen margarita.
I have to admit, this firecracker thing is a new obsession. I do get obsessed with things. I was obsessed with documentaries for a couple of years – the History Channel especially. World Wars and Engineering Disasters were my thing. There was this one story that combined them both where this huge vat of molasses – and I mean the size of those water towers you sometimes see up on stilts at the edge of towns – just burst and people drowned in it. They were using the molasses to help manufacture shells or something during World War One. That shit messes with my head- molasses and bombs, poppies and death. Why do these things go together?
Like I said, this firecracker thing is just the next obsession. I know it is, I’m not some crazy person who doesn’t know when they are being a little weird, but if Pete Bostic doesn’t get sent to the Ed Psych for running down those stats I don’t see why I should for liking firecrackers.
The thing is I’d never really even thought about buying firecrackers until last year when we went to visit my aunt in Tennessee. My aunt is divorced, like mom is, but her old man was some college professor or something and they live in this really nice part of Murfreesboro. We go visit them every year and there’s my older cousin Neil who’s sixteen or seventeen and then my little cousin Danielle who is four or five. Neil’s a dick. He thinks he’s a gangsta and wears all these throwback jerseys but he goes to this private school and I know he’s still a virgin even though he always talks about fucking. I mean, I’m a virgin too, but I’m not really interested in fucking right now. Maybe I’ll get obsessed with that one day and then we’ll all be in trouble!
Anyway, mom had Elton John on in the car while we were driving down there. I like Elton John. I know that isn’t cool but I like some of those songs he sings. My favorite is the one about the kid called Jesus, where he talks about this kid just blowing up balloons all day and wanting to go to Venus. Me and my mom would sing along, even when the CD started again we wouldn’t change it. We’d just keep singing.
My mom’s pretty cool. I know she wouldn’t let me get out of the car at Cinco de Mayo that time but I know it’s because she cares. That’s why she won’t let my dad see me either. I don’t blame her. My dad’s a bigger dick than Neil. I love her. Yeah, everybody loves their mom but most people think kids like me who think the things I do can’t really love their mom all that much. Well fuck them, I love my mom. Fuck them where they breathe. Ha! I heard that line in a movie once. I always remembered it.
I always read the road signs on the way to Murfreesboro. There’s tons of them. My favorite is one just through the mountains that says:
MOVE DAMAGED VEHICLE TO SHOULDER IF NO SERIOUS INJURY
That is a cool road sign! It’s like they expect you to crash! There was this documentary about New York I saw and it had these old bits of film from the ‘80s where these black kids were walking around with boomboxes on their shoulders. That’s what that sign made me think of, the way it’s written is like you should just stand there with your car on your shoulder like one of those kids. But it wasn’t that sign that caught my eye last time. It was just after we’d crossed the border into Tennessee. It was one of those big permanent billboards that stores have and it said:
BIG DADDY’S FIREWORKS.
Next to the words was a cartoon picture of this fat guy – I figured he must be Big Daddy – and he was wearing some bullshit cowboy gear. Big Daddy looked really creepy. He was acting all casual with this huge firecracker in his hand but it looked like he was wearing red lipstick. There was something about him though, like in that story where the guy kills the rats and then takes the kids into the mountains – I was like one of those kids, I just wanted in on Big Daddy’s team. Ha!
I asked my mom if we could go there on the way back and she looked at me
There’s a reason those things are against the law, Christopher / They’re against the law? / Sure, hon / So Big Daddy is a criminal? / No, hahah, no… in Georgia, Chris, you can’t buy them in Georgia. You can buy them out here but I think Georgia has got it right. We won’t be going to Big Daddy’s.
We stopped in Chattanooga for a rest and some ice-cream. Mom asked if I was okay and I nodded.
When we arrived at my aunt’s in Murfreesboro my mom did the usual thing about how nice the house was and my aunt apologized for Neil not being there.
I just don’t know what to do with him Sandra, he’s becoming so rude / It’s just his age, hon, he’ll grow out of it / But I’m afraid he might be doing drugs, I mean, they test them at school but you’ve seen that Marion Jones thing – they’re making them untraceable now. You just don’t know do you?
I wanted to say, don’t worry aunt Pam, he’s not on drugs, Neil is just a dick but then there was Danielle! She ran right up to me and I scooped her up and gave her a twirl.
She has been so excited to see you Christopher. It’s all she talks about.
I smiled at her and asked her how she was doing and she said fine.
Do you mind if we go play outside?
Mom and aunt Pam shook their heads and Pam said I was such a good boy. We went outside.
Aunt Pam has a huge garden. You can tell she has a gardener because it’s all neat and there are cool places where Danielle can hide and I can pretend I don’t know where she is. Right in the middle of the garden is a pond. I was feeling pretty tired chasing Danielle around the garden so we sat by the pond and looked at the fish.
See that one there Danielle? She nodded. Do you know what that one is called? She let out an exaggerated sigh as if to say ‘Christopher, do you think I’m dumb – sure I know’. That’s a goldfish. I looked puzzled. A goldfish? Quick, get me a net so I can sell it – it must be worth a fortune! She started laughing and hit me on my arm. Don’t be silly Christopher, it’s not real gold! It was pretty hard; she has a good arm. Maybe one day she’ll pitch softball. I’m so stupid sometimes Danielle. It’s a good thing you’re here.
This time Danielle pointed to another fish. That one’s going to be a shark. I jumped back from the edge of the pond. Will it eat me? She looked serious. When it’s old enough, yeah, it might.
We had lunch outside with mom and aunt Pam. They asked me what we’d been up to outside and aunt Pam told my mom she was so lucky I was good with kids, that I’d make a great dad one day. That made me feel good. I liked that aunt Pam thought that about me.
When we talked about the pond, aunt Pam started bragging about this restaurant they have out there at some mall and it’s like an aquarium so you can eat your meal “underwater”. I wanted to tell her that Georgia has the biggest aquarium in the world but she could have easily come back at me with yeah, but you can’t buy firecrackers in Georgia.
On the way back home I noticed something: In the grass that runs down the middle of the freeway, the part where the cops hide, poppies were growing. Well I think they were poppies, they looked like they were.
The fireworks explode over Turner Field. We ooh and ah and mom puts her arm around me. The fireworks are pretty cool, I’ll give them that. Where we’re sitting we have a perfect view as they shoot up from some secret place behind the scoreboard. Mom looks so happy and I promise myself that as soon as I’m sixteen, as soon as I have my license, I’m going over that border and I’m going to pick up Danielle. I’m going to pick her up and we’re going to go and see the sharks and the rays and the alligators.
©2008 Matthew David Scott