"Hooha!" Bobby G had made his way down and was glad-handing his pal Bumper and extending insincere niceties as only he could, to his wife Ming’s cousin, Kuni Noyori. Bobby had fallen for Ming Lin the moment he had walked into her reception area at Dawg Radio two dozen years earlier. That was the day Fast Eddie Mason had begrudgingly offered him an entry level sales job at The Dawg, solely as a favor to the Big Dawg’s old radio pal in Hawaii. For reasons known to few, Mister G had been compelled to blow out of Hawaii in a Honolulu second. (Jewel Goldman was one of the few in the know)
Now, Bobby questioned Bumper about the guy in front of him with taped glasses, "Is he really wearing black shoes with his beige suit?" Bumper wasn’t sure what that signified.
"Say, kid," Bobby G had zeroed in on Mr. Hodges’ pride and joy. "That equipment looks pretty snazzy. Be a good Samaritan and lend that to Dawg Radio." Bumper perked up. Then, Bobby G noticed Turbo. "Eeeeeyikes," was his unrestrained reaction. Nonetheless, he didn’t miss Fanny Hill, skipping toward Roger Butler. Out wagged the media huckster’s paw in his perpetually vain effort to tattoo Fanny’s fanny with his version of a love pat. Phil, witness to this malarkey whenever Mister G deigned to visit the Throwbacks, told her to tell Bobby, "Away you mouldy rogue... Away you cutpurse rascal, you filthy bung, away!"
"Whoooah... some kind of big-winded poet these days?" Fanny Hill had frigidly edged in toward Phil. She could never veil her distaste for Bobby G’s "friggin," nightly effrontery.
"Not I," intoned Phil, who wished he could reach out his handy armrest to calm her. "But a certain lad from Stratford-upon-Avon sure was."
Bobby G had coerced Bumper Morgan to head over with him to the Throwback hotdog stand. Bumper asked him to bring him a burger instead, medium-well, but his sales pal had insisted, so he shrugged, shook his shoulders to push off of Izzy’s arms then crammed a tail of Lynyrd down into his Wranglers.
He was still fiddling to tuck in Lynyrd Skynyrd when Penny Platinum rose, grabbed her handbag the size of a classroom globe, patted Butler’s shoulder, spun, winked mischievously at Mr. Hodges, tugged at, then pulled down her top about, oh, maybe a micro-inch, then strode up the steps. "Aren’t you hot for a hot dog?" she purred to Bumper Morgan as she wound her hips and walked past.
The morning guy didn’t immediately know how to respond.
Bobby G responded with a moonbeam grin that Penny Platinum reflected with a dancer’s glare.
"Phew! She’s got legs all the way up to her..." Uh oh, Sammy was heating up again.
"Yeah, bet she’s worn skirts higher than her IQ," The Pistol ricocheted.
Always a step ahead, Jewel Goldman had heard from friends in Hawaii that Head Cheat was opening Cheaters bars in La Haina, Maui; Poipu Sands on Kauai; and at Honolulu’s Aloha Tower Marketplace.
Jewel wanted Cheaters to sponsor what she promised would be a flame-throwing on-air introduction to the prominent star she had just recruited. To jack up the buzz, she was determined to cajole Head to buy TV commercials for the first time. To complement his initial schedule, KFAN-TV would pony up three all-inclusive trips for two from San Francisco to each island where he was about to open the doors to his new Cheaters Sports Bars.
Her antennae stiffened. There was Head! At the club bar, dishing his best I-don’t-appear-to-care-if-you-sleep-with-me-or-not banter to two 49ers cheerleaders.
"We’re back," succinctly chirped young Vin. AT&T was buzzing like a killer bee hive on National Geographic television channel. Vin Hodges was not one to drone on and on, but the Kid was pumped.
Penny Platinum returned with a hard, firm grip on a pair of hotdogs. She had squeezed her buns hard. Her hands overflowed with onions and sauerkraut and she dangled packets of mustard and mayo with glittering, apricot-colored nails. She balanced a Styrofoam bowl of clam chowder with her other hand. Her teeth locked on to a cup of Orange Crush. Butler eased his soda away from her electric orange lips, plucked a dog and decided to hold off complaining about the onions. Penny hiked her skirt more than a wee bit in order to sit down.
Mr. Hodges gasped. He couldn’t have told you whether or not there were runners on base. He couldn’t have told you who was sitting next to him.
Waltzing back from the food court, Turbo Penny had, out of the blue, remembered the only baseball anecdote she knew, even if she didn’t really get the punch line. She had overheard (hard to do, to, over the music and whoops at Big Daddy’s that made hearing clearly a challenge) her customer on the rail of the side stage, ask his buddy if he had seen Leno the night before.
Did you see Leno the other night," she asked Butler.
"Hey, Sugar Dumpling, here’s an idea," whispered Johnny Pistol (why do these guys whisper so often?). "Tell him which particular night you might be referring to."
"Nope," said Butler. The last couple weeks I’ve been reading a hilarious book."
"Oscar Wilde, no doubt," interjected Phil Sage.
When Miss Platinum asked him the title, he answered, "it’s a book called The World’s Thinnest Books. The funny thing is, the book itself is maybe the skinniest book I’ve ever seen."
"Let me get this right," assessed Phil. "The guy has been reading the thinnest book he has ever seen... for a couple weeks?"
"No nuclear physicist, he," cracked Sammy the Seat.
"Nor a disciple of Evelyn Wood," clucked Izzy.
For a few moments, Turbo had forgotten questioning her date about Leno then she stiffened, arched her back and let fly, "Jay said that some old Yankee outfielder, I forget his name, just became a police officer. Then he said: ’It’s a first! A Yankee player riding in the front seat of a police car.’"
Stone silence from Butler.
"Brmmm bum," from Johnny Pistol
Jewel had it wired. When she reentered his box, she had looked toward the side exit then cried, "Joe! Look, it’s Joe! Joe Montana!" Off scampered the Barbie Doll cheerleaders in a 49er-second and suddenly, Head Cheat stood alone, and none too smiley, at the gargantuan bar in his sky club suite.
"Now batting, for your San Francisco Giants, switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval.."
"What’s a switch hitter?"
"It means he hits from either side," answered Butler.
"Don’t see many of those in my line of work," grinned Penny Platinum.
Pablo Sandoval was one of the league’s best switch hitters but his stats told the tale. His statistics were notably stronger when he hit from the left side of home plate.
"Did you know," intoned Sammy, "right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do?"
"If you’re ambidextrous," Phil asked, "do you split the difference?"
"So what do you think?" Fanny had again stopped beside Kuni Noyori even though her boss Smoky had gently admonished her for being a little "chatty" tonight.
"Honest? What do I think? I think I’d like Bumper’s cell phone to ring and it was my boyfriend calling to tell me his cell phone had rung, so he was calling to tell me something wonderful."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh. I’m sorry. He’s in Seattle, checking out a programming job."
"Oh, he’s in the biz, too?"
"Oh yes. In fact, it was he who gave me my big break."
"Oh yeah? Does he have any brothers in the business?"
Bumper had earlier informed his "date" that Fanny was a part-time anchor just waiting on a break. Kuni tried, but couldn’t soothe Fanny with a lick of genuine sincerity. She couldn’t honestly relate because Cole Kelly had immediately jet blasted her into the hot seat. No bullpen action for her. Showtime, not part-time. So instead, she admitted how Seattle was a world class market and all, an incredible fit for many, but also why she and Cole just knew that the Bay Area was the place for them, so she and Cole were hoping for an offer from the new East Bay owner.
"Hope he doesn’t get hit by a bus, first." Fanny grinned, waved, then spun to take the steps two at a time.
She left Kuni to try to decipher the "bus" comment. For that matter, which he was Fanny referring to?
When Fanny made her way up to Smoky Burgess to have her cupcake tray topped off, he mildly chastised her again. "The amount of time you’re spending in that particular section tonight, you’d think even the seats up there were wolfing beers and chatting you up."
"I know a couple that could use a beer, Smoky."
Smoky could use one himself. He had been feeling weird for the usual reason. But for whatever reason, tonight felt weird and a half. He knew that Fanny perpetually waited on just one phone call, a call that for her, he too, hoped would come. But for him, it would be a phone call that would take away from him the best beer vendor he had ever employed. A natural. She was a natural.
Never one to waste her breath, Jewel Goldman had virtually pinned Head Cheat to his own bar and cut right to the quick. "Head. Are you opening them simultaneously or spacing them? Soft openings over time or the whole banana, owner on hand each night, ribbon cutting, all that razz-a-matazz?"
Damn, Head shook his head. No wonder Ms. Goldman is considered one of the hottest salespersons in the whole friggin’ hemisphere. Not too tough on the eyeballs, either. "You’re way ahead of me on something, Jewel. What it is, I haven’t clue 1. What are we speaking about here?"
"Ba pa, pa, pa, pa, pa... bap, bap, bap, bop, bop. Ba pa, pa, pa, pa, pa..." Not bad. Of course it was rare, the person who lived in Hawaii who couldn’t mimic the intro to the Hawaii 5-0 theme. Her spot-on rendition was not lost on Head. "I heard three," she purred.
"That’s about right." Head cocked an eye. "But what do my three new joints in HiWi have to do with any San Francisco TV station?"
"It’s not just any San Francisco TV station, Head. It’s the Giants network. We cover every market that matters. We reach beer chuggers that bar hop in all thirty-four of your markets, sixty-two bars. I see it like this: KFAN goes all out to co-brand with Cheaters and you put up giant ha-ha, Giants displays with our logo in all Cheaters bars throughout the west."
"Wow." No sarcasm there. Uh-huh. "What kind of displays do I get?"
What kind of displays. What kind of displays. Not would I get. Do I get? He’s in. That was when Jewel Goldman just knew that Cheaters sports bars was about to run the chain’s first ever TV commercials. Head won’t regret it, she thought. He will "own" the best promotion any market ever witnessed. His clubs will roll out the hype for the arrival of my latest and greatest hire, if I say so myself. It was a certain star competitor who had defected.
With both eyes Super Glued to Penny Platinum’s Fat Boy tube, Merrill Hodges was still able to doodle a note on Vin’s scorecard. The count to Dodger third baseman Juan Uribe had run to two balls and one strike. (Juan Uribe, no relation to Jose Uribe, and certainly no relation to Jose Gonzalez) Dad’s doodles were meant to remind his son that there are twelve possible combinations of pitch counts. Old timers sometimes called three of them, Don Rickles counts.
Bumper had returned to plop down upon Izzy. A little too hard, grumbled Izzy. Now, The Dawg morning driver leaned forward to read past Mr. Hodges’ shoulders. "I don’t get it."
Mr. Hodges had scribbled, "three and 0, two and 0, and 3 and 1."
Of all present, it was Kuni who resisted telling Bumper that those were called Don Rickles counts because those were the counts that lent themselves to the most offense. Most offensive, get it? She just shrugged and said she knew only a ’sukoshi’ about baseball.
Phil Sage had caught Kuni’s expression, so he looked back at Sammy. "She knows a heckuva lot more than ’just a little bit,’ about the good ’ol American pastime."
"Messersmith waits on deck. Many forget that the Mess Man once pitched for the pin-stripe gang." Vin Hodges was on cruise control.
"Nice call," said Izzy. "Good description of the Bronx Bombers."
The Pistol was pretty sure that they were talking about the New York Yankees.
"Those sentimental Yanks. Five monuments beyond centerfield in Yankee Stadium," whispered Dad, although it was a long stretch to tie such factoids to Messersmith. "Huggins, Ruth, DiMaggio, The Iron Man and The Mick."
Phil Sage knew a few things about the tradition and history of the formidable New York Yankees. In addition to the monuments, the team had "retired" 14 numbers to honor fifteen players and managers. Phil wondered if Mr. Hodges knew that, defying Daniel Webster’s big black book, the club had retired one number twice, for catchers Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.
Bumper dipped a napkin into his beer, anxious to get at that pesky dab of relish that had fallen onto his Wrangler Jeans. "Near beer," he thought. Anchor Steam was his pal Bobby’s client so when you were with Mr. G, you drank either Anchor, Anchor, or... maybe an Anchor.
Bobby G was still standing, leaning over the deejay to have a word with Kuni. "Don’t worry, hon." But of course, she was worried. It was Friday so Cole’s week in Seattle had run its cool course. She couldn’t know for sure that he indeed had an offer in his pocket, but she did know that he had a plane to catch at 7:45. The love birds hadn’t found time in Hawaii to replace the station phones that belonged to TV Ten Zero, licensed to Pearl Harbor, so he and Kuni had been sharing a disposable cell. Darn, she mused. Could Cole get extra consideration from Jack London Square if the owner was aware that she was a minority? Funny, but she didn’t laugh. It was time. Past time. Time for Cole to light up Bumper Morgan’s cell phone.
Fanny Hill smiled when she whisked past. Who wouldathunk that she was impatiently waiting on her own call. From any station. But for now, it was her refueling station that was calling her. She arrived winded, so Smoky Burgess commended her for renewed hustle. "We’ll fill ’em up and fuel ’em up tonight, Fanny." He twisted at a thin, coal black mustache as if he was Dishonest John, teasing Dudley Do-Right.
She winced. "Just what we need, a bleacher brawl."
"Not to worry, Fanny. We won’t let ’em get past jo-co."
Fanny knew that "jo-co" was short for jocose. "There are five stages of drunkenness," Smoky the Biermeister regularly reminded. "Verbose, jocose, lachrymose, bellicose and comatose."