DFA: A BLOG ABOUT LIFE ON THE BASEBALL MARGINS: July 3, 2008
DFA, chapter 31: Enter Letty
I wonder if those stathead guys could come up with a stat that could tell you what’s in a woman’s heart…
Yeah, Kara is still occupying too much room in my brain, where space is limited and should be reserved for things like learning how to recognize Matsuzaka’s gyroball and memorizing Girardi’s hit-and-run signal. (Just had a strange thought: Can you copyright a baseball signal? Touch the hat, then the chest, right elbow, left arm, right ear indicator, rub nose and wipe chest – collect royalties!)
Who should show up outside the locker room after today’s 11-8 exhibition loss to the Pirates (boy, even a senile George ain’t gonna like that result) and a game in which I didn’t play, but my literary collaborator, Rick Sanabria? He was wearing a bright yellow and blue guayabera over jeans. But what caught my attention was the woman at his side. She was tall, bronze and although not beautiful, sexy, with a large, wide mouth, lips that resembled plump sea urchins, a large but perfectly tapered nose and dazzling white teeth. She wore tight jeans and a loose, revealing white linen blouse.
“Hombre!” he shouted. “Arriba! Arriba!” he shouted, then bear-hugged me. I could gauge the level of inebriation by the intensity of his hugs, and this one signaled relative sobriety.
“How’s it going, muchacho?”
“Well, O.K., I guess.”
“Hey, you still here with the big club. You still inna game. I mean, it’s perfect for the book.”
He saw me undressing the woman with my eyes and howled, “Ric Grieff, Letitia Gonzalez.”
I shook the woman’s hand.
“Call me Letty,” she said.
“She’s a professor,” Sanabria said.
“Adjunct,” Letty said.
“What do you teach?” I asked her.
“Literature. Of the Americas.”
“You mean North, South and …” I had forgotten the other America.
“Central. Mostly Central and South. You know, Marquez, Borges, Cortazar, Bolano.”
“Sure,” I said. I had never read any of those authors, although I did recall seeing some of their books in Sanabria’s apartment.
“Ric has told me a lot about you. Your adventures sound like they were written by Marquez. You know, magical realismo.”
“That’s what I’m tryin’ to get into our book,” he said, more to her.
“Speaking of the book, how’s it coming?” I asked almost apologetically and with fear that it wasn’t.
“Bro, take a breath … We fucking sold it!”
“You’re serious?” I was stunned.
“Senor Harper and Senor Collins want to give our baby a home!”
“Congratulations,” Letty said to me.
“They must’ve liked your proposal.”
“Our proposal, muchacho. They loved it. The editor, Joe Sterno, he is the numero uno literary baseball guy. And Pomade already arranged for ESPN to run an excerpt. You know, advance praise.”
“Speaking of the advance?” I asked.
“Six figures, baby!”
Sanabria shook his head, as in disbelief, then tapped Letty and nodded toward me. “Listen to this guy, will ya? Which six? That’s classico!”
He then grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “They want it by the fall, for a spring ’09 release!”
“What does that mean?”
“Means we got to kick some serious ass. Invoke the gods. Papa Hemingway and Senor Faulkner.”
“How is the book Comin’ along,” he said. “Letty’s gonna lend her editorial guidance, so how can we go wrong, right?” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek, which she treated like a buzzing gnat.
“Look, Ric, I’m going to be going out of town for a while. ESPN wants me to cover March Madness.”
“March Madness?” asked Letty. “Is it fatal?”
“Oh, yeah,” Sanabria said. “They even got a drug for it. It’s called Budweiser.” He laughed. Then he turned to me. “Letty’s been kind enough to offer to work with you for the next few weeks, just ask some questions I wrote down, while I’m away tryin’ to suck quotes from ‘student-athletes’ who can’t spell their names. You know, so we don’t fall further behind.”
“Are we behind now?” I asked.
“Sterno wants to see a good chunk of the manuscript soon, so he can start his marketing team working on it.”
“But if it’s my story, shouldn’t we wait to see how … things develop? Like if I make the Yankees, for one thing?”
“Long shot, burrrrrryyyy. You know that. I know that. She knows that,” he said, pointing to Letty.
“I know nothing about baseball,” she said.
“Hey, you know what? We should put my blog in the book. You know, it’s …”
“Raw? Yeah, I guess a little raw meat never hurt.” He eyed me quizzically. “You didn’t make any stuff up, did you? Like that chick who said she was a gang-banger? Or that schizo with the Anne Frank complex who lied about being in the Holocaust and chased by wolves, when she was sitting on the sidelines the whole time? I mean, that’s some sick stuff!”
“Victimization pays,” said Letty.
Sanabria’s flood of vehemence kind of caught me by surprise, coming from a guy who had with “our” agent, insisted on spinning my life into a comic book for grown-ups.
“No, I gave you the real deal. I don’t have the imagination not to tell the truth.”
Letty was clearly bored. and looking at the other Yankees leaving the clubhouse, said, “So which one of them is A-Rod?”
“Over there,” Sanabria pointed.
“My nephew begged me to get his autograph.”
“So go,” Sanabria said. “You have Ric’s number. You can call him to set things up.”
“Well, it was nice meeting you,” she said to me, then walked off with her camera.
“Sorry about that little tirade,” Sanabria said. “I know you’re a straight shooter. It’s just that … we got to be extra careful to get our stories straight. Publishers, they gonna be lookin’ a little more closely at memoirs. Especially ones that purport to show the white-assed mothers the barrio!” He paused to laugh bitterly. “Just for a while. Then it’ll blow over.”
“I hear you.”
“O.K., get some work done. And keep your paws off her. She’s mine.” He laughed again, this time as if dismissing the possibility.