Baseball With My Best Friend!

Everyone needs a best friend. Think back on your own childhood a moment. Who was the one person you could turn to, outside of your parents, when you needed advice, and if they said you were right, you knew you were right? (By the same token, if they said you were wrong, you knew you’d been somehow mistaken.)
I met my best friend when we were both eight years old. Unlike the other kids, he didn’t bully me. He didn’t find joy in ridicule. He was interested in what cerebral palsy was, what it meant for me, how it made me different (not in the “He’s different!” sense, but what talents it might have unknowingly conferred upon me.) In fact, when need be, he stood up for me against the other kids, the bullies, because if he said I was cool, they weren’t going to argue the point. They would leave me alone… at least for a little while, until some time when he wasn’t looking and they could get away with tripping me in a hallway at school, or saying very slowly, “Are. You. Retarded. Or. Something?” Each word was a sentence, and they knew this got to me. They liked to watch my face redden.
“They don’t know how to deal with anyone who isn’t exactly like then,” Dad said. I kind of ignored this thought. Until the next day at school, when my best friend, Luke, said essentially the same thing.
“Well, how is that my fault?”
“It’s not. If it makes you feel any better, my parents really like you.”
It did. As a kid (believe it or not, and Luke has confirmed this) I was opinionated, outspoken, laughed loud, sometimes too loud (still do), I loved to write, and, as I’ve always been, I was then quite loyal. Luke’s parents didn’t mind any of these characteristics. They went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to making me comfortable around them and in their home. For example, Luke’s mom would cut my food when we were eating together, be it in their kitchen or at a fine-dining place. I suppose I could have done this myself, but it would have taken seventeen hours and an answered appeal for clemency from my palsy.
Something else Luke did for me, with which his parents both assisted greatly, was to show a guy with cerebral palsy, who would never play a minute of competitive sports, how to absolutely love sports. How to live and die with a team. How to put your whole heart into a franchise, or a season, or a single down, or a single pitch.
We were especially fond of baseball. It took me what felt like forever to learn the game. I would ask stupid question with answers so simple they should never have left my mouth, but each time I had a question Luke or his mom would patiently reply, and over time my knowledge of the game steadily increased (Sure, we’ve always been fans of the Seattle Mariners, and that’s tough, because there isn’t a strong tradition of winning that follows the club around. There is, however, a strong tradition of: “How will we blow it this year?” It must be like watching the Mets, but at least with the Mets their fans can say, “Remember those world series we won?”).
Today is something of a special day. Hence the subject of this post. I’m headed to a baseball game with Luke (our second this year, as we attended opening day; oh, to be 1 and 0 again instead of the Mariners’ current abysmal record, which is something like Not Many Wins–A Whole Lot More Losses.). Also attending the game, Luke’s girlfriend; I am meeting her for the first time ever, and I’m excited, because if Luke approves of her, she must be a pretty cool person. And my girlfriend, who learned at our last baseball game how to “score” a game and is definitely a cool person! I’ll report back and let you guys know if anything really awesome happens at the game today. As they say on TV news promos, “More at 11.”
For now, I hope you guys have a great weekend, and I’ll see you here again very soon.

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