Just once, I’d like to listen to the radio without hearing anything at all about sports. It’s not that I have anything against sports, they’re just so pervasive that you can’t ever get away from them and their many accompanying cliché references.
Three strikes, you’re out! or, The ball’s in your court, or, Call the shots.
It’s impossible to fully distance oneself from the world of sports, and that is often a very fatiguing thing for a poor grad student slavishly attempting to finish a degree. At this moment, with several pens speared through my messy bun, and thick glasses sinking down my nose, my only real intent is to make a dent in my thesis while clearing my mind through the lyrics of peroxide-blonde pop stars. I’ll even take a few boy bands if that’s what the radio station gives me, just nothing too deep or too sexy, because those songs will only remind me of him.
The delivery guy.
The radio DJ breaks for a commercial, which just happens to be an advertisement for the exact thing I absolutely do not wish to hear about right now. It’s for a pizza place. The pizza place where he works called The Bases Are Loaded, in homage to Fenway Park, which I just happen to live right next to. Go me. It’s not my fault that I’ve been oversaturated with sports and baseball for the last two years. It makes me sick, and yet I still order the baseball-themed pizzas twice a week without fail, despite the toppings’ stupid names like Ichi-roasted tomoatoes and anchovies Rodruiguez. It’s because he delivers them.
Clint Harding. That name should rightfully belong to a geriatric, paunchy porch-dweller with a cigar hanging limply from one hairy-knuckled finger. This Clint, however, is a stubble-wearing, blue-eyed devil of seduction. He’s in business school, and the pizza gig is his second job. I asked him once, on an occasion when I mustered the guts to speak to him, why he continued to deliver pies after getting hired as a corporate intern, but he just said that he had his “reasons” in a mysterious voice.
He’s so…beautiful. He makes me feel like a teenager and not a relatively intelligent grad student about to embark on a madcap career in editing. I stare into space for a while, absorbing the strange mix of early nineties Celine Dion and Lady Gaga that the DJ has chosen. Not too much time passes when I hear it, one of the songs I simply cannot abide any longer because it makes me ache to hear his voice too much. It’s Hold You in My Arms sung oh-so gut-wrenchingly by Ray LaMontagne.
This is bad. Very, very bad. Beyond a pint of cookie-dough ice cream bad. I reach for my phone to order pizza, even though it’s hours too early for dinner. I stop with my hand in mid-air as the DJ’s voice breaks through my haze.
“And there you go, a special song dedicated to Liv the pizza girl, from her friends at The Bases Are Loaded by Fenway Park. This Liv’s a lucky duck, folks…”
He continues, but I pay no attention. Why am I on the radio? Do I even have friends at a pizza place? Isn’t he the only person I’ve ever met from there?
My hand finds the phone without hesitation this time, and I manically press the number two speed dial (one is for the parents, of course). The completely obtuse voice of a hostess answers on the third ring. “The Bases Are Loaded, how can we load your bases today?”
It always sounds vaguely dirty, at least to me. “This is Liv Thompson. The usual, please.”
“Oh, right, no problem. It’ll be twenty minutes.”
They know the drill over there from my insane amount of orders, so I hang up and wander around my tiny apartment for fifteen minutes. And then I realize that I only have five minutes left before he’ll show up at my door. There has never been a faster shower in the history of fast showers, followed by a manic dressing in acceptable jeans, the application of mascara, and a comb through the hopeless tangles of my hair.
My doorbell rings.
I wait a minute to open it, because my heart is beating so loudly that I’m afraid he’ll hear it and run away from my insanity. A sliver of light appears in the crack as I edge the panel of doom open, only to see one of his blue eyes peering at me.
“Oh, hi,” I say, wincing from the inanity.
Why does his voice sound like a caress when he pronounces my name? “Here’s your pizza.”
He holds out the warm box full of delight. I take it without looking and stuff my hands in my pockets to find a crumbled bill to pay. He looks down at the floor.
“Um, you just dropped your pizza, and it’s sort of everywhere.” He smirks at me, and my knees feel weak. I forget about my chaos.
“Clint…did you? I mean…I was listening to the radio, and…oh, God.” I’m so embarrassed, and I can’t meet his gaze.
I’m startled when I feel his finger lift my chin. “I know. Every time I’m here, you’re listening to that station.”
My eyes are wide when I finally meet his gaze. The blue shines even though he looks nervous.
“So it was you, my friend from The Bases Are Loaded?”
“Yeah. It was me.” He steps closer.
“Why?” I ask this, too, even though it’s stupid.
He laughs softly and shrugs. “I really like you, and this has been going on for a long time. I’ve only kept this job so I could see you, and I just finally wanted to do something about it.”
“Oh? Yeah, I guess I’m insane.” He rakes his hands through his messy hair.
“No!” I shout, terrified that he’ll leave. “I mean, I like you, too. Really, a lot.”
“Well, okay then.”
We stand awkwardly staring at each other before I just can’t stand it anymore. I catch his eye one last time before I yank his face towards me and kiss the smirk out of him. It’s perfect, and maybe now I can stop pretending I like pizza so much.
It was never anchovies Rodriguez that cost me thirty bucks a week, but it was worth every penny.