I got fixed up Saturday afternoon with a half-inning: the top of the sixth of the Mets-Rangers game from Arlington. I picked her up right after the bottom of the fifth was done.
“Where you wanna go?” I asked her.
“Nowhere in particular,” she said. “You can just drive around.”
Seemed to be going well. The top of the sixth was more easy-going than any inning I had been with in a while.
“Hey,” I asked, “do you mind if I stop at the bank for a minute? Really, it will only take a minute.”
“Take your time,” the top of the sixth replied. “I’ll wait for you in the car.”
I like a half-inning that’s that agreeable.
“I’ll be right back,” I told her as I parked. “I promise.”
“No rush. I’ll be here.”
I conducted my ATM business as efficiently as I could and I came back.
“Hope I wasn’t gone too long,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.”
While I was gone, the top of the sixth had gotten a couple of runs.
“Say,” I asked, as we pulled out of the bank lot, “did you have those before?”
“Those runs. I don’t remember you having that pair of runs before we got here.”
“Why, aren’t you the observant one?” the top of the sixth teased me.
“I hope I’m not out of line, but where did those come from?”
“Observant and curious — that’s cute.”
She didn’t really answer my question, but if the top of the sixth wanted to be that coquettish with me, who was I to get in the way?
“Hey,” I was compelled to ask as we drove a little further on. “I don’t mean to be a pain, but I have to make another stop, at the supermarket.”
“Are you sure? I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
“I swear, I’m fine. Just relax and do your shopping.”
“It’s not really shopping. Just a few things I need to pick up.”
“Whatever. I’ll wait in the car.”
“Why not? It’s a nice day.”
“Yeah,” I said as I found a space at the supermarket. “But you know how lines can be in stores.”
“Look,” the top of the sixth said, “I appreciate that you’re being considerate, but really, you don’t have to keep asking. Do whatever you have to do, I’ll wait out here.”
“Um, OK. I swear I won’t take too long.”
The top of the sixth had a great attitude, though I couldn’t be sure if she was as amenable as she seemed. I’ve learned not to expect much from half-innings. I certainly never expect them to stick around. One comes, one goes, it’s the nature of the, shall we say, beast.
Anyway, I go in, I pick up my items, some in appetizing, one all the way over in dairy. I take a quick look at beverages and then cleaning supplies. It’s not taking forever, but it’s a big store. It’s a lot to ask any half-inning to have the patience to put up with that. Plus, they’ve installed these new self-checkout aisles. I never know if they’re gonna work or what.
I scan. I pay. I bag. I gather up everything and I take it to the car.
And there’s the top of the sixth, right where I left her, right where she said she would be.
“You’re still here!” I said.
“What — you didn’t believe me? You’re accusing me of lying to you?”
Oh great. Now I’d gone and insulted the top of the sixth. I began to phumpher out an apology when she shushed me.
“I’m just kidding around! Here, I got you these while you were in the store.”
It was five more runs.
“Five more runs?” I was incredulous. “Where did you find five more runs?”
“Well, I had to do something while you were in the store, silly.”
“That’s, what…seven runs? Wow. You’re full of surprises.”
“There’s more where that came from,” the top of the sixth said with a wink.
“Well, we can get going now, finally,” I said. “Geez, seven runs. I feel bad I didn’t get you anything while I was in the store.”
“Just take the seven runs and enjoy them.”
What a caring, giving half-inning. I couldn’t believe my luck as we pulled out of the supermarket lot and headed back in the other direction. We didn’t get more than a few blocks when the top of the sixth got a little more playful with me.
“Oh,” she said. “I think you dropped something on the floor here.”
It was an eighth run.
“Eight runs? Oh, you shouldn’t have! You’re being almost too generous.”
“Do you have some kind of complex about half-innings that want to make you happy?”
I was afraid I’d hurt the top of the sixth’s feelings and attempted to explain.
“That’s not it,” I said. “It’s just that I’m not used to being treated this well by half-innings.”
The top of the sixth took it all in stride: “Well, I am kind of a rare beauty, aren’t I?”
“Are you ever! I don’t think a half-inning has given me eight runs in over a year.”
“Sometimes you get lucky, big boy,” the top of the sixth said, motioning for me to pull over. “You can drop me off over here.”
“OK,” I said, not wanting to seem too forward (though I was hoping she’d stick around for a few more runs). “I had a really great time with you today.”
“No, the pleasure was all mine.”
“If you say so.”
And just like that, the top of the sixth was gone. But I still had the eight runs to remember her by.
What a schmuck I am — I should have asked her if she has any friends I can hook up with Sunday.