I immediately knew when he arrived as Liv began to groom herself in the dugout of her team. First she took out her ponytail and brushed her hair hard, bending over at the waist. Then she whipped it up into a newer, fresher ponytail and briskly gave it a hard, tight squeeze.
Made sure that her shirt was tucked in nicely. I glanced over at Bing who hadn't noticed because she was watching the game, which we were mightily losing. I admit that I am a poor spectator at these games. I only really pay attention when Liv is on the field.
And then, yes...I spotted him. Riley. With one of his pals. He was craning his neck, trying to catch a glimpse of Liv in the dugout. I nudged Bing and whispered, "Peter Brady is here."
That is our private joke. We call him Peter Brady because if you are old like we are and watched a very old sitcom called The Brady Bunch, you know who Peter Brady is. He's the middle boy. In between Greg and Bobby.
We snickered at our cleverness and then watched the dance that went on between
Liv smiled in totally fake surprise.
And then she made a show of going back to watching the game. Riley walked away and sat a few rows down from us on the bleachers. He waved once, acknowledging the parental units. We waved back, acknowledging the boyfriend.
Unfortunately for Liv, she had already played for 3 innings before Riley arrived and her team is pretty large. Her coach believes that all his players get equal time no matter what their skill is. This sometimes annoys the crap out of me when we are in a tight game because well....okay...some of the girls stink and couldn't catch a ball if it was thrown from three feet away from them from a 98 year old woman. But, I get it. And if Liv was one of the lesser talented players, I would want this rule to be in place, so I acknowledge that, at this level, it is probably for the best. When Liv's high school softball team starts up again when school starts in the Fall, it will go back to a competitive vibe and only the best players will play while the others ride the bench.
But, now...with this team, it was Liv's turn to sit out a few innings. Rats, I could hear her thinking. No chance to strut her stuff for
Except that she didn't. For some reason, she just could not connect with the ball tonight. She struck out every. single. time. that she was up to bat. I whispered to Bing that perhaps this was because she was trying to look her best instead of leaning into the bat the way that she does when there is not a boy staring at her with lovesick cow eyes.
Bing and I were terrible. We commented quietly to each other that Riley's propensity to dunk himself in Axe body products may have something to do with the fact that all we can think about when he is around is cedarwood.
After the game, there is none of the usual lollygagging that Liv is prone to. No visiting with other team members. No. She grabs her stuff and comes directly over to me, accepting my hug and then Bing's while looking carefully over her shoulder to find Riley. He pops up almost immediately. Again they start.
I ask Riley if he and his friend are here for Liv or watching another game. He says that there is one directly after hers that a friend of his is playing on and they will get a ride home with this kid's Mother. Can Liv stay and watch too?
I sigh when Liv turns her begging eyes on me. I remind her that we are leaving early tomorrow to spend a few days in Iowa visiting her Aunts and my Sisters.
This seems to almost force Riley to combust.
Liv is going to IOWA! When? How long will we be gone?
I sigh again. Remind him that it is only a few hours away, not Siberia and that since they constantly text, this will not be a terrible hardship. That we will come back on Tuesday. Bing will be remaining home, though. He can always come over and visit Bing and Socks. He doesn't seem to find this humorous.
TUESDAY? This seems to discombobulate him. We will be gone for 3 nights?
Liv turns mournful eyes up to me. I tell her that no, I can't allow her to accept a ride home with someone that we do not know. Riley runs over to a blonde woman and drags her over to me. Introduces her as his friend, Hunter's Mother. Now we know each other. Can she give Liv a ride home?
Hunter's Mother and I smile tiredly at each other. We are old hands at this already. But, at least they're not driving yet, we mentally agree.
Hunter's Mother asks what area of the city we live in. Before I can answer, Riley pipes up that we live in Dundee, just a few blocks away from him. That she can drop them off at his house and he will personally walk Liv home.
I shake my head no.
Hunter's Mother tells me that she will be happy to give Liv a ride home, that they have a large van and there is more than enough room and that she will be glad to drop Liv off at OUR house, not Riley's house.
I look over at Bing and say okay, but remind Liv that she will have to get up early tomorrow morning to pack as we are leaving at 9. She happily agrees.
I know my daughter. It will take an atomic weapon of some kind to drag her ass out of bed before 8:45.
Welcome to my world.
But, I've said she could go, so I give her a kiss, which she accepts with only a small show of impatience and Bing and I leave.
As we are walking back to the car, Bing says, "Remember when she was little and those games were so damn boring? Especially t ball. And soccer. All those herds of kids fighting to kick a ball all over the field, no idea which way was their team's side. And now, well...the games are so much more interesting but why do I get the idea that those games are more important to us than they are to Liv? Our lives seem to revolve around her games and all it takes it that little pinhead to make her completely lose it and strike out."
We laugh. And then she begins to sing "Here's the story of a lovely lady...who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their Mother....
I finish for her.
"the youngest one in curls....
Peter Brady is courting our daughter.
We snicker at our cleverness again. This is immensely entertaining to both of us. We decide to stop at Dairy Queen for cones on the way home.
Ha, ha, ha. Livvy. You missed your peanut buster parfait!
Somehow, I think that she doesn't care.
She's far too busy smiling up at Peter Brady.
And this is just the beginning. It is now 9:50 and she just came in the door. I walked outside to wave at Hunter's Mother and Liv practically dragged me back inside after like...three seconds.
I guess she likes to give the impression that she lives here in this big Victorian house alone with no parents.
She sat and gave Socks his perfunctory pats and then stood up and pirouetted twice and said she was going to go take a shower.
"Did you have a fun night?" I asked.
She nodded yes and then her phone made the bird chirping sound that someone was calling. She smiled and started up the stairs, the phone to her ear.