RL391 - The Destination Was Your Bush

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The problem: John got a pity out, referring to John playing softball with his sister and almost crashing with her at third base, but jumping over her and injuring himself to avoid the crash and then still getting the point for having tagged her out, which was given to him as a courtesy out, a pity out.

The show title refers to John having a ceremony for becoming domestic partner with his daughter’s mother and his daughter performing the ceremony and having him stand in a bush, which makes it like a destination wedding, but the destination was John’s bush.

Raw notes
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John calling her daughter’s mother for ”my daughter’s mother” (RL391)

When John’s daughter's mother incidentally listens to one of John’s shows where he refers to her as ”his daughter’s mother” will always tell him to call her something normal like ”partner”. Merlin has gotten notes about this. But what is a partner? Doesn’t that imply a gay marriage? She claims it doesn’t mean anything and John is totally her partner, but he got into the habit of saying ”my daughter’s mother”. Merlin won’t really say it out loud, but ”partner” to him implies a sexual relationship.

John is sure that if he would say ”partner” he would get 50 congratulatory emails like: ”Amazing! You guys are together!” Whenever she will put up a picture of him on her Facebook account there will be somebody asking in the comments: ”Are you guys…” People are just waiting like vultures, or like bridesmaids. It is like Sam and Diane. A few years ago when John was making a point to say Millennial Girlfriend, some kid who was clearly a millennial wrote him a letter saying that it was driving him crazy and John wrote back ”How do you think Millennial Girlfriend feels when she hears it? It is going to drive her crazy, too!”

For somebody who talks about himself and his life a lot, he does have certain privacy needs. If you want to talk about John’s surgery he will tell you all about it, but he doesn’t want to hand people the opportunity to put him in an envelope. They can make up stories about him all they want, but some things they are just never going to… Merlin thinks ”my daughter’s mother” and ”Millennial Girlfriend” are kind of funny and he doesn’t hate them, but he is also not Millennial Girlfriend and he wouldn’t steal John’s underwear.

John getting a domestic partnership with his daughter’s mother (RL391)

Only weeks before Millennial Girlfriend left John she insisted that he got on her insurance as her domestic partner at SnapChat, but as she broke up with him and went back to work and told them to cancel her domestic partner’s insurance. John had it worked out in his heart and he was paying this incredible amount of money every month to keep himself insured, as you do in America, but she just insisted that he would got on her insurance because it would be a sign to his commitment and they were domestic partners, except when she decided that they were broken up she went to HR Monday morning and cancelled his insurance. Wasn’t she busy giving his stuff away to the Goodwill? How did she have time to also cancel his insurance?

John’s mom was telling him that there is a national program called COBRA that steps in when a spouse gets divorced, it is called Continuation of Health Coverage. When Merlin lost his job he had to do COBRA and it was a double-whammy because he didn’t have a job and he had this new expense. In the state of California nowadays it was 3-4 years that John was insured by SnapChat, longer than he dated Millennial Girlfriend, they only dated for 20 months, only because his mom made him aware of it.

It took John many phone-calls to get it set up, but he was paying much less than he had been paying on the open market before. His insurance card said Snap on it, and every time he employed it at his psychiatrist, the copay was only $10 and he found it nice that Millennial Girlfriend was still somehow helping him in this life. That all dried up about a month ago and John’s daughter’s mother said: ”Since you are my partner, why don’t I put you on my insurance? You live in my house, you are the father of my child, we are in a life-long committed relationship!” - ”Yeah, that is a good idea!”

But her company required that they were in an actual domestic partnership. Snap is a progressive California company and if you just say that you are domestic partners, then you just are. John never signed a piece of paper with Millennial Girlfriend. Here in Washington State John and his daughter’s mother got a domestic partnership just three weeks ago and as they were filling out the forms their daughter was there in the room and she was asking: ”Are you guys getting married?” and John said: ”Well yeah, kind of! We are getting a certificate of domestic partnership!” and she exclaimed: ”We are having a wedding! We are having a wedding!” and started picking out her dress and inviting all the neighbors and she couldn’t quite decide how to be the flower girl, the maid of honor and perform the ceremony all at once, but she felt like she could handle it.

They were having a big garden party, but during COVID, so everybody was wearing masks and was standing 8 feet apart, John put on a little suit, her mom put on a dress… Merlin is only hearing about this now because this is the type of story that he doesn’t normally tell because it trends over into what is happening in his actual life. Their daughter designed the ceremony to happen half in a bush because she is only 9 and thinks that everybody can stand in a bush. Only then did it occur to John that it was entirely possible that his daughter had written a 15 minute speech and this was going to take a very ugly turn.

She loves the ceremony, the slow walking, some music playing, it was some Imperial March from Star Wars, and there was a procession with her and the little girl across the street and she said: ”I now pronounce you domestic partners! The ceremony is over!” It was the best wedding John has ever been to. Merlin notes that there is a lot of John’s mother in his daughter, and they have talked about a lot how much she sometimes has of his mom and his sister and her grandmother on her mother’s side.

Then they had a barbecue and John was the ”Kiss the cook”, or ”Worlds best farter”, and it was nice because the adults were having fun with a cheeky little event and the little kids got some kind of sense where the question of ”What is the deal with John’s daughter’s parents?” got answered a little bit more. Now when John runs into the neighbor across the street, the pilot guy, and he needs to reference anything in their domestic situation he says: ”Now that you guys are married…” He will find a way to throw it in there. They are moving from their inner suburb house to the outer suburb because of the schools.

Having this domestic partnership, around the house… even between them… you can’t help but feel like The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and there is a gradual process… John will be 52 this year and he has resisted being married all these years and he has resisted any external domesticity, but internally he has domesticized and now he is in a domestic partnership and on the plus-side he got insurance again, but also a very nice embossed and notarized certificate from the State of Washington. He did open the envelope!

John’s family playing softball and John injuring his shoulder doing so (RL391)

John is a little injured. They tried to play a little Softball, but neither his sister nor his daughter’s mother had any softball experience. Last year John’s daughter was on a softball team and they were all surprised she was interested in it, but she probably got into it via a little friend, and once she was in it she never tried to quit and did the whole season with every game and every practice. John’s dad was a big sports guy and John did a little sports because his dad ”encouraged” him, and John’s sister is sporty, but sports where you are on your own. Merlin thinks that Susan is vigorous, less of a Hank Aaron and more of a Teddy Roosevelt. She seems very brisk, she has stuff to get done, she is indomitable.

John’s daughter was on a team where she was 8 and the oldest girls were 13 and would hit and run and pitch like athletes while the 8-year olds were like cannon fodder. She really tried and swung her little heart out! She and John would start playing catch and he would pitch balls to her, and like with riding the bike it was fun, but she didn’t really want to do it when she didn’t want to do it, which according to John’s dad would be the secret of getting good at something, to do it when you don’t want to do it. John was hoping to get there with baseball and take two mitts out and throw a ball back and forth.

In High School John did that with Frisbee. When they had for 40 minutes for some reason somebody would pull a Frisbee out and they would stand in the parking lot and throw a Frisbee. There is a whole universe of people who in that situation would pull two mitts and a ball out and throw that back and forth, and it is just as fun, it is a very meditative thing, you can talk and you are going to be socially distanced.

John’s daughter’s mother grew up as a Hippie and played Volleyball, but had never really hit a softball with a bat, and as John would pitch her softballs they noticed that she had a natural gift. He gave her just the basics, how to stand, how to cock the bat, how to put your weight, stuff like that, he gave her the least amount of coaching possible. Merlin wants to know if he told her to choke up, but John is not a fan of choking up.

She got the bug and she would cream the ball and put it way out and you only have to do that a few times to feel: ”Where has this been all my life?” Merlin loved going to the slowest pitch in the batting cages. Those are wonderful because it just hangs there in the air, they are a strange place in America. You can go there with your friend Bruno Kirby and talk about women (reference to the movie When Harry Meet Sally…) You can do that just two people. Merlin watched this movie with his daughter yesterday.

This became a thing they would do. His daughter is also interested in it, but if the focus shifts off of her for very long she gets very frustrated and she will start to do a dance in the periphery so they can all say: ”Oh, are you still here?”

Her mother is a vice president of a tech company and she reads as very mellow, cool-with-everything, to Merlin she is amazing and like Grace Kelly character, she got a lot of charisma, she is very smart and underplays it, she never ”actually…”ed anybody, but she just goes with the flow and takes just out enough to beat you.

But if you throw a softball toward her you see a laser competitiveness in her and a desire to hit the baseball as far as it can go and to win at all costs, which you never see under any other circumstances. She doesn’t argue to win, she never puts anybody down, but if you throw a baseball she is literally swinging for the fences every time, and then she will look at John and go: ”Why isn’t there a place that I can do this?” - ”There is, it is called a intramural softball league!” that you get into with friends to play other people and there is beer involved and everybody gets really agro, and she wants that, but they are in a COVID, so they can’t do it right now.

John’s sister is desperate for human contact and she started to come to their softball game, which is just John throwing balls for her to hit. She had never played softball. She was an ardent skier, snowboarder, skateboarder, soccerballer, kayaker, but softball never came up. John gave her a glove and threw the ball to her and she panicked and didn’t know what to do, threw her mitt down and ran, but they worked on it for a while, and little by little they got her comfortable catching a ball. She is a fast learner and she wants to do it. Susan likes to be coached and if you give her instructions about your body, like how to place your weight, she can translate that into action immediately, and pretty soon she was hitting baseballs.

One of John’s daughter’s best friends’s mom and dad are hipster parents that they have included in their quarantine circle. They are fun, they have been married a long time, he is John’s age and she is Ari’s age (John’s daughter’s mother’s age), and she played softball as a girl coming up in Michigan or something, and she got all this extra coaching knowledge and now they got this little thing happening.

What they had never done was to run it out when they got a hit, they were just doing batting practice and fielding practice, and center left is generally where all the balls go, but John started to get everybody to practice some infield-stuff as well and not just huck it back to the pitcher, but let everybody touch the ball, run it out and get a little hustle into this.

Both John’s sister and his daughter’s mother have now become very serious about hitting and catching baseballs and it very quickly settled down to being a game of the John’s sister, daughter, and daughter’s mother against him, which has some echos with how life works. Because John is both the pitcher and the fielder, they have a good chance of getting to second base and they racked up the score and everybody is running. They go much more into details of their variant of baseball and how they are playing.

One time John was running for a ball and grabbed it, but he had no-one to throw it to and he was in the infield with the ball and he got a little tired of slow motion running and he started running to third base with the ball and when his sister saw it she also turned on the gas. Their whole life they have never played against each other in sports. She was a better ski racer than John, but they were in entirely different categories, she was in Junior Racers and was at a higher level, even though she was younger, but girls and boys also have separate scores. They never threw a ball around, she never really picked up Frisbee throwing.

They both get closer and closer to third base and John realized that they are both 50 years old and they were both running full blast and they were both going to arrive at third base at the same exact moment, but John was committed to get there a microsecond before her to tag her out. She was not going to yield, she has never yielded, and in that heartbeat of a moment right at the base John realized that if he hits her he is going to cream her because although she is very solid and strong and although she is not incredibly dense she cannot be beaten and to her peril over and over throughout her life she is not scared of John, which is a bad policy, and she paid the price over and over. She has fear about him, but that has never affected her decision in any moment.

Everything slowed down in super-slow-mo and John sees her having picked a line in this game and in life that is in a direct collision course with him and he outweighs her with 100 pounds and he is moving very fast and there was a flash on her face of ”Oh no!” and John does what he has always done through his entire life which is to protect her at the expense of himself. She put her head down and there was nothing else he could do than go over because he was not going to hit her, so he went up and over and he was airborn and also in a twisting motion to not hit her and he came down with the entirety of his weight on momentum on his left shoulder and he just cratered ass-over-teakettle head-down into the dirt.

This was the type of thing he used to do all the time. He could roll out of a crash, but that was another time. Merlin compares it to the movie Singing in the Rain and Donald O’Connor running at the wall and doing the flip and falling on the floor, and that used to be a good bit for Merlin as well, he would do a round-off just for fun, but that would put him in traction for two month if he did that now.

If John was a little younger, smarter, and faster, should he have just dodged to the right and let her take the base and miss her? But the instinct is to peal off to the left, the same direction she was still headed in. John went over her and when he landed he did roll, but he rolled like a javelin, which is to say straight into the ground and broke off. Everybody was like: ”Oh, no!” For 47 years John has been turning at the last second and landing on his head rather than hurt his sister or let he get hurt by something else, covering her from all of life’s travails, physical and emotional and she rarely noticed. She is Hong Kong Phooey and John is the dog.

They never played a lot together and her narrative is that John sucked up all the attention from their parents, but not intentionally, he didn’t want the attention, but she wanted it and their parents were very focused on why he was such a fuck-up while Susan was getting straight A’s, wouldn’t anyone like to buy her an ice cream cone? It was 100% a Ferris Bueller situation, like: ”Why doesn’t anybody notice me?” As John was laying down on the ground she said: ”You just totally injured yourself to protect me! Thank you! You have always done that!”

Then John did the ultimate dad thing, he brushed himself off, he was fine, and it was decided by everybody that he had successfully tagged her out, it was given to him as a courtesy out, he got a pity out. Then John got up to bat and kept hitting these softballs out to center field and had to run the bases and for the rest of the afternoon he was either hitting softballs and trying to run these bases out or pitching again to them, and by the time he got home he realized he had injured himself earlier and kept playing on it.

That happened two days ago and he has been sitting with an ice pack on his shoulder and was just able to move his arm around and not have it really hurt. He has full range of motion and doesn’t think he broke or tore anything. There is some catastrophizing around here that is primarily based on the fact that John’s mom routinely breaks bones and doesn’t notice it and John also has this problem. A while back John threw a rock on his hand and broke a little fingertip bone, but there wasn’t anything to be done about it. Put it in a cast? He walked around with it however long it takes for it to mend, he put a little piece of tape on it to remind himself not to use that finger to dig honey out of the comb, but there is this consternation in his family that this is not the normal thing to do.

His mom once walked to the clinic on a broken foot because she felt like taking a car would be a waste of money, and John got a lot of side-eye when he said that it was fine and they suggested that even if it wasn’t fine that was still what he would be saying. But last night he moved a couple of boxes downstairs in the middle of the night, which got noticed and proved that his shoulder was not broken. It is surely going to be fine! Like with the broken finger recently, this is not the time to go to an ER or call your doctor and say that you got a booboo. Let them save their N95 masks for somebody who is sick. At 52 years old John can no longer reliably hit the ground and bounce.

Years ago John and his dad left a Washington Huskies football game and he was in his mid-80s and as they were walking down the hill he hit a root and did a full forward role and came up the other side. It was so reflexive on his part and John always assumed that this is also going to be true for him and it would be if there hadn’t been a 150 pound projectile (his sister) that he was trying not to destroy.

A month or two ago Merlin got one of these injuries. He wanted to move a power-cord to make it more aesthetic, and he bent over, moved the cord, and his back hurt for about 5 days after that. Merlin doesn’t believe in chiropractic, but he does believe that the symmetries of the body can be thrown off and then you are favoring it and it is going to affect your other parts because now you are out of balance.

So far, the only injury in John’s life that concerned him was the back problems he had a couple of years ago when he had to go to a sports-medicine chiropractor, which was such an indignity and involved all kinds of spooky voodoo and his back has not given him any trouble since then.

John disappeared from the call for a couple of seconds. They have set up a new WiFi in the house and maybe he should switch over to it, but it is fine right now. They decide to wrap it up because the show is already more than an hour. John might take an Advil, but he will continue to play injured, although he doesn’t know by how much he is going to prolong the healing process. Merlin and John have a mutual admiration society, each admiring the other.

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