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FICTION

A Couple of Screwballs
By Robert Rubino


He said:

Ultimately, she proved that she wasn't a serious fan. Not a serious San Francisco Giants fan. Or, let me put it this way. Ultimately, Gina proved she wasn't as serious a Giants fan as I am. I give her credit, though. She was good. Damn good. She had me fooled. For a whole year, she had me fooled. From the night of October 5, 2001, at the jewel of a ballpark at McCovey Cove when we met on the garlic fries line the inning after Bonds broke McGwire's single-season home run record, until the night of October 26, 2002, in our studio apartment in the Haight, on our black and orange thrift-store couch, when she seduced me and cost the Giants the World Series.

She said:

First of all, it was only Game 6. He always leaves that part out. He always ignores there was a Game 7, which we didn't interfere with. And it figures he would blame the World Series loss on me. That's so Stan. Poor Stan, the victim. Like he had no control. Like he was under my spell. Like he was all innocent in some Garden of Eden and I offered him forbidden fruit. Give me a break. Like he didn't make the first move—muting the TV, and then the second move and the third, for that matter. Like he didn't hear me say, twice, that Spiezio had just hit a three-run homer off Felix Rodriguez. But did that stop him? Not Stan the man. At least for the time being I was keeping an eye on the game. He looked up at me, his puppy-dog eyes framed between my knees, and he mumbled something about the Giants still being up, 5–3, and then continued . . . to seduce me, if you really want to know the truth.

He said:

We had a pretty frisky hot stove league of our own after the 2001 season, Gina and me, and we were fired up for the 2002 season. We're watching Opening Day, Giants at Dodgers, on TV, and we're about to christen the new season with a roll in the hay and, just for laughs, I say let's wait until the game is over . . . if the Giants win, we celebrate between the sheets and if they don't, we don't. They won. Great. Then, just for laughs, Gina says let's do the same thing for the second game of the season. Okay. And they won again. Well, this went on for the first six games of the season.

She said:

We started this . . . superstition . . . and it became a ritual with Stan and me. On the day of a game, no lovemaking until the game is over, and then only if the Giants win. Well, I thought it was cute but I didn't think either of us was going to take it all that seriously. I mean, come on, it's a long season. On the seventh game of the season, Dodgers at Giants, and before the game comes on, we do it. I honestly don't remember who initiated it. I don't think that matters. Well, the Giants lose, 3–0, and Stan gets all bent out of shape, and I tell Stan I think Hideo Nomo had more to do with the Giants losing than our little sexcapade.

He said:

That first time they lost when Gina and I did it before the game started, okay, that could have been a fluke. But two days later, still Dodgers at Giants, we're watching it on TV, the Giants are up, 2–0 in the sixth, and we think what the heck, and we take a break from the ball game and have our own little fun and games and the next thing we know, Kirk Rueter yields back-to-back home runs to lead off the eighth and the Giants go on to lose, 4–3. So, we both agreed to a rule: No sex on Giants game days until after they win. And if they didn't win, well, of course there would be no sex because neither of us would be in the mood anyway. Yeah, we took it seriously, some people would say too seriously, but we were having fun with it and it worked for us and more importantly it worked for the Giants. Look, they were eight outs away from their first World Series title in forty-eight years and their first ever since coming to the city forty-four years ago. What was she thinking?

She said:

I know we didn't look it, Stan being forty-four at the time and bald and a little paunchy, and me, a forty-year-old hippie—with the maxi-skirt, sandals, pot habit, bad complexion, and hair down to my butt. But we weren't unattractive—the way Tom Goodwin's stats in 2002 weren't unattractive. Besides, sex, like baseball, is 75 percent mental. We were passionate, sexual, imaginative people. We were a very passionate, sexual couple. We didn't have that with our exes, twelve-year dead-ball marriages to spouses apathetic to eroticism in general and the Giants' long, anguished quest for a World Series championship in particular. Well, in no time at all, after more than a decade of stagnation, we made spontaneous, simultaneous blockbuster deals. On paper, it looked like we got taken. Stan gave up his house and he had to pay alimony and child support on his mail carrier's salary. And I gave up my house and kids. And my colleagues at the preschool, not to mention the self-righteous parents, treated me like I wore a scarlet letter. But on paper doesn't count. Stan and I were even more than soul mates. We were teammates, like a perfect double-play combination, each in sync with the other. And a year after we got together, we were still as hot for each other as ever, hotter than Tsuyoshi Shinjo posters in Japantown.

He said:

She knew the stakes and what did she do? One minute she's sweet, innocent, Gina the loyal Giants fan wearing her long skirt and a plaid shirt, cheering with me as Kent drives in Lofton in the top of the seventh to give the Giants a 5–0 lead. Then she disappears and five minutes later, just as Bonds whiffs for the third out, she's suddenly Gina the temptress, Gina the sexpot, wearing nothing but her double extra-large Benito Santiago jersey that comes down to just above her knees. She knew what that would do to me. She knew what would happen. And she did it anyway.

She said:

If our sexuality, our sexless marriages, our devotion to the Giants and our bratty kids' spiteful interest in professional wrestling—exclusive of all real sports—if all of that weren't enough to have in common, there were our birthdays. Stan was born in the city's Mission District on April 15, 1958, at 1:30 P.M., just about the time Giants right-hander Ruben Gomez threw the first major league pitch on the West Coast. And I was born in the city's Outer Sunset on Oct. 3, 1962, at 4:05 P.M., just about when Willie Mays caught Lee Walls' flyball for the final out of a 6–4 comeback win that clinched San Francisco's first pennant. We were destined to find each other. It was in the stars. I believed that.

He said:


Do I miss Gina? Of course I miss her. I'm dying without her. We had a connection, a freakin' cosmic sexual-slash-baseball connection. Is there anything better than that? I don't like to brag, I really don't, but we did it in more positions than there are on a baseball field. And we hit for the cycle every time. Every time. And often, in the afterglow, I swear her J.T. Snow bobblehead doll gave me a wink. How cool was that?

She said:


The next thing we knew, it was the bottom of the eighth. Like, what happened in the top half—the Giants' half? Well, nothing happened, and it happened fast, that's what. While we're in the throes of sensual ecstasy, Santiago walked, Snow flied out, and Reggie Sanders and David Bell struck out. I unmuted the TV, and then our erotic buzz really got bummed, big time, when the Angels batted in the bottom of the eighth.

He said:

That bottom of the eighth, instant karma, man. The Giants paid dearly for our sudden horizontal squeeze play. How's this for timing? The very second we came up for air, Erstad homers off Worrell. Coincidence? I don't think so. Then the Angels put the fear of the Almighty in us. Salmon singles, Anderson singles, Nen comes in and gives up a two-run double to Glaus. It's 6–5, Angels.

She said:


At least the ninth inning was quick. They didn't tease us. They didn't torture us with a rally, or by getting a runner on. That was real decent of them. Goodwin strikes out, Lofton fouls out, Aurilia strikes out. Three up, three down. I tried to hug Stan but he wouldn't have anything to do with me. I told him there was still Game 7, but he said it was over, that the Giants would lie down like dogs in Game 7. The next night, we watched Game 7 in icy silence. It was like a funeral, a freak-show funeral with rally monkeys and thundersticks being waved at the mourners from five hundred miles away. Stan was right. The Giants lied down like dogs. Stan and I were dead as a couple. Sad.

He said:


Best sex we ever had was after we got home from being at Games 4 and 5 of that Series in '02. We maxed out our credit cards just to shiver in the bleachers, but it was worth it. The Giants came from three runs down to win Game 4, and in Game 5 they scored sixteen runs in a rout. Worst sex we ever had was the one time—once we got serious about the ritual after we jinxed those early-season games, and before that Game 6 screw-up—when we did it before the game was over. September 1, Giants at Arizona. The Giants scored five runs in the top of the first, and we got cocky. So we do our impression of a two-headed octopus giving signs like a third base coach, but we feel awful. No afterglow, just guilt. And then we watch in absolute misery as the D'backs chip away, chip away and it's torture—and then Nen gives up two runs in the bottom of the ninth, doesn't even get an out. Single, walk, single, double, game over. Brutal. The Giants lose, 7–6, and fall into third place, eight games out. We swore we'd never do that again. Gina swore that would never happen again. She gave me her word.

She said:


Stan and I had a great season, but I look at it now as a one-year, free-agent contract. After the '02 Series, there were philosophical differences. It was time to move on. Or, in my case, move back. I needed my family. My family needed me. And Stan needed a shrink. So I got another long-term deal. I still follow the Giants, but not like I used to. Gina's got to do what's best for Gina.

He said:


Of course I still follow the Giants. Follow? I live and breathe them. It's called loyalty, pal. Yeah, I heard Gina was back with what's-his-name, the guy who's about as clutch as Pedro Feliz was in the '02 Series. I'm a good sport, I'm happy for her, back with the guy who can't drive her home even when she's in scoring position. I bet her J. T. bobblehead ain't winkin' at him.

—EFQ

ROBERT RUBINO writes a Sunday sports column for The Press Democrat, a New York Times Regional Newspaper in Santa Rosa, California. He denies allegations that his personal writing coach injected him with sentence-enhancing drugs, but does admit to using the spell-check function on his computer.

© 2008 Robert Rubino

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