Chapter 11 ~ She Didn’t Recognize Joe Dimaggio
Grace and Matt sat across from each other at an authentic Italian pizza parlor. A red and white checkered, plastic tablecloth covered the table. Crushed red pepper, a glass filled jar with parmesan sat next to the pepper. Sinatra was singing in the background and photos of Italian-American sports heroes adorned the wall. Matt was staring at a photo of Joe Dimaggio kneeling down, holding a baseball bat.
“You know who he was, Mom?” asked Matt.
Grace looked at them. “I have no idea, hemust have been way before my time. Do you know who he is?”
“Come on, Mom. You got to know all about Joltin Joe. Everybody knows who he is,” said Matt not believing Grace wasn’t up to date on baseball trivia.
Grace resisted rolling her eyes. She had more important thing to talk about, but not now.
“I guess I’m the exception. I give up, who is he?” said Grace trying hard to show interest. Matt really needs a man who shares his interest in sports. I feel so useless, she thought.
Matt pointed at the picture, “He is Joltin Joe, Joltin Joe Dimaggio. He played for the Yankees. The Yankees won ten world series while he played for them. He was married to Marilyn something, a famous actress.”
“Oh, was that the guy who was married to Marilyn Monroe?” said Grace taking a bit more interest in the photo.
“That’s the one, Mom. I got a question, what’s the special occasion? The only time you take me out to Giamo’s Pizza is for my birthday. My birthday is still five months away,” said Matt turning away from the photos and picking up the menu.
Grace looked up from her menu, “Oh, I thought you and I never do anything special. It’s always the same old song. You know.” Grace regretted the words as soon as they passed her lips. This made it twice in a week she wasn’t completely honest with Matt.
“Thanks, Mom. I’ll have my usual,” said Matt putting the menu down and taking a sip of his Coke.
“You didn’t read the menu. They have lots of choices. Here’s one with mushroom, peppers, and spinach,” said Grace.
Matt smiled, “Dad and me always liked the same kind of pizza, pepperoni and extra cheese.”
Grace felt the knot in her stomach. How was she going to broach the subject with Matt? She thought about her conversations with Jane and came to the conclusion, Jane was right. It was time for her to get on with her life. She wasn’t getting any younger, and Matt really needed a man in his life. She heard so many people tell her the same old story, “Mike would want you to be happy?” How did they know what Mike would want? I don’t even know, she always thought but never said.
The waiter took the pizza order. Matt was wandering around looking at the photos on the wall. Grace heard a text come in, she reached in her handbag and lifted out her iPhone. It’s from Jane, who is she setting me up with this time? she thought. She opened the iPhone and read Jane’s message: I have a brilliant idea. It came to me when I was in the Jacuzzi. Maybe it was the candles, maybe the wine, but the idea is a great one. One of my best. That’s all, it’s a teaser. How about coffee tomorrow, same place with Tim the hot barista LOL. J
Matt slid into his chair just as the pizza arrived. “Who’s the text from, Mom?” he asked.
“Jane, she wants to get together for coffee,” she said. She was happy she told the whole truth to Matt this time.
Matt started to pick up a piece of pizza, “Matthew! We say grace first.”
Matt grinned sheepishly, and put the pizza down and joined hands with Grace. After saying grace, Matt said, “It’s funny, I never thought of it until now, when you say grace, it’s Grace saying grace, pretty cool, right?”
Grace smiled, nodded, and instantly remembered Mike saying the exact same thing to her on their first date, another lump in the throat and a rock in her belly.
Grace and Matt talked about sports, the best Grace could. They talked about the upcoming summer basketball league. Matt was going to play in the 11 and 12 aged division. Matt was on his fourth piece of pizza when he stopped and said, “Okay, Mom. What did you want to talk about?”
Grace looked at him. How does he know? Does Matt know me better than I know him, she wondered. “Oh, nothing. I just wanted to take you out for pizza.”
“Mom, you made me promise to always tell you the truth even if it hurt. You said you would do the same with me. Remember, we shook pinkies on it?” said Matt.
Grace made a deep sigh, “You’re right, Matt. I apologize. I wasn’t completely honest.”
“That’s okay, Mom. You can talk and I’ll finish my pizza,” said Matt giving her that smile again. His face beamed and lit up in his eyes just like it did on Mike.
“Matt, I’ve been thinking that if the right opportunity came up, I might start dating.”
Matt put his last piece of pizza down, put his right elbow on the table, made a fist with his right hand, tilted his head bit toward the right and let his cheek rest on his fist and he looked at Grace. He didn’t say a word. He only looked.
“Well, say something,” said Grace.
“Mom, if you’re going to to date, just make sure he’s not a creep like that James guy. I knew he was a creep from the second I saw him. Promise me, no creeps.”
Grace smiled, “No creeps and they better know who the starting quarterback is for the Dallas Cowboys.”