Gotham Diary:
Schlechtes Wetter
24 September 2011

I had no idea that this new pizza place existed until I cropped the photo just now. Maybe it’s not new! Kathleen says, you learn something every day. Not with my stiff neck you don’t. How many times have I passed under that red awning? It’s true that there is nothing about “GO!99″ that would capture my interest. I have developed immunities against the assaults of such signage. You have to, in this town.

Yesterday was very, very wet. Even indoors, it was wet. Towels refused to dry, as did the shirt that I wore to see Moneyball. The theatre was only a block away but by the time I got home after the showing, I might as well have climbed out of the East River. All afternoon, I dreaded the ordeal of getting a taxi in the rain to go downtown to sit with with Will while his parents went out to dinner. In the event, getting the cab turned out not to be the ordeal. It was listening to the driver complain about gridlock. He unnerved me so badly that I nearly asked him to turn around and take me home — this was as we were crawling down York Avenue, because, he said, the FDR was in “gridlock.” Which turned out to be piffle; it was only northbound traffic that was congested. As I was ringing the O’Neills’ doorbell when I finally got there, my phone rang, and I knew that it had to be Megan. As it was; she hung up and buzzed me in. What I didn’t know was that she was thinking of staying home with Will, who had developed a bit of a fever. She would have asked me to turn around, too. But now that I was there, and now that she had got a bit of Tylenol down his throat, she might as well try for a quick dinner with Ryan at one of their favorite places, Edi and the Wolf, a few doors up Avenue C. She would be close by if — if Will got sluggish. That is what I was too look for. He was certainly very warm. And he wanted to be held, at least for the first half hour. We watched his new favorite movie, My Neighbor Totoro, in which there is also a lot of rain. (The pluviage sharply underscores, however, the difference between rural Japan and the Upper East Side.) Eventually, Will began to want from time to time to fiddle around on his own. He brought me all the big pillows from the sofa. He brought me, one at a time, the five singles that Megan had left in case the pizza deliveryman couldn’t break a twenty for his tip. At just about the time when he no longer wished to be held at all, his parents came home. Will’s temperature was found to have dropped considerably, and Will, accordingly, was in a mood to play, specifically with his Plan Toy trains, on the understanding that his parents would join him on the floor of his bedroom. It was wonderful to be a part of this, although I wasn’t much of one. I was fading fast, having adjusted, during Kathleen’s London trip, to very early hours. Plus, really wet weather makes me — sluggish. It’s something barometric. I hugged everybody goodnight and went downstairs and caught a taxi right away. An hour later, I was sound asleep. It was still wet.

If the foregoing seems a little headlong, that’s because it was written while I was counting down the minutes until Kathleen’s call from Heathrow. When I looked up, it was 7:04, just past our noon-time date. So I called her. The phone rang and rang; because the call had been shunted to a British carrier, the AT&T lady never came on to tell me that my call had been sent &c. (A small joy in itself; I hate her.) I hung up, disconsolate. During the week, I had not once yet failed to reach Kathleen upon dialling her; and I was beginning to like the idea of business travel almost as much as Kathleen does — so long as I get to stay home. I didn’t have long to mope, though; it turned out that, natch, my call coincided with Kathleen’s paying for her ride and getting her luggage out of the taxi. She called back a moment later. Half a moment!  


Moneyball was fun, and thoroughly absorbing while it lasted, but, unlike Warrior and Drive, it was over when it was over. I’m not saying that it’s foregettable; it’s not. But if Warrior is about love and loss, and Drive is about the long-term malignancy of endless good weather, Moneyball is about baseball, tout court. I wonder if the game will survive the demythologizing process that Billy Beane inaugurated in Oakland, even if it did result in the Red Sox’s breaking the Bambino’s curse a few years later. Perhaps it will make baseball interesting in a new way; perhaps the United States is old enough for a national game that isn’t played by action figures whose abilities are so often the product of seasoned scouts’ imaginations. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill make a surprisingly satisfying pair of buddies, not least because, in Mr Hill’s company, Mr Pitt looks a lot like Robert Redford at his most deific. Buddies for our times: a failed ballplayer and an economist from Yale go on to triumph.