Google.com. What a wonderful search engine. It even translates foreign pages into English for you. I was on Google a few months ago, and something at the top of the page caught my eye. The first link posted under “Search for ‘Seattle Mariners’ ” was something in Japanese, but I recognized the names in the link. Ichiro and Finley Stuart. Ichiro, everyone knows him. But why was my ex-girlfriend’s name with his?
Out of morbid curiosity, I followed the link, translated it, and saw an article from some Japanese newspaper trumpeting the new toast of the town: Ichiro and Finley. Turns out they are dating. What a wonderful world.
The article went on to explain how they met. He went to Sam’s Brew, the coffee house where she worked, because he had never had coffee and wanted to try some. When she brought him a steaming latte, he took one swig and promptly spit it out, loudly declaring how awful it tasted in his native language. She returned with some paper towels to clean up the spilled coffee and a ginger green tea. She set it in front of him and winked. “That should taste better,” she said in Japanese.
Well, how’s that for ya? I had no clue she spoke Japanese.
He was instantly smitten, according to the article, because she could speak Japanese so well. He kept coming back to Sam’s, for ginger green tea and a look at his new object of affection.
He, or, should I say, his interpreter, kept after her for dates. She politely declined, time and again. He finally got to her, and she accepted. Now, everywhere they went, it was a national event in Japan. All those Oriental fuckers would wake up in the morning and pour over the social pages in their newspapers and magazines just to read about the precious couple.
It really burns me how it was just the same way with me. I went to Sam’s, met her, asked her out several times before she accepted. But the Japanese paparazzi never hounded us.
I suppose this is what I get for looking back. I’d rather be a pillar of salt.
I left Seattle bitterly, and found millions in Texas. Now, everywhere I go, fans boo me. They love hating me in Seattle, especially. Of course, I do have quite a contingent in Texas, but if I could just take a big pink Gum eraser and rub it over all that had happened after I signed this damned contract, and just stay in Seattle with Finn.... wishes don’t happen.
We broke up before I left. I was in a crappy mood one night and just went off on Finn. She was upset and hurt. Then I decided I didn’t want to be with her. A week later, I singed the richest contract in baseball history.
What is rich? Having lots of money, cars, houses, nice clothes and shoes, surrounded with fine things? Finn has a tiny hole of an apartment in downtown Seattle, a shit job that paid just that, but lots of friends on the Mariners. She was prone to sadness, but who isn’t? Now, with this new Japanese beau, I think she may be richer than I.
I thought this was all hearsay, but in late September, we came up to Seattle for a series, and I found them in the shadows of a hallway near the M’s clubhouse kissing. I wondered then if they were sleeping together. Ichiro’s hands were planted firmly on Finn’s rear. He gave her plentiful backside a playful squeeze and they shared a private laugh. The looks in their dark eyes said so much.
I put my head down and walked away. I missed her, and the way life used to be, so much it made me ache. But she looked as though she wasn’t missing me at all.
If were smart, in any way, I wouldn’t touch Google.com again. After I saw them so cozy, I went home and hopped onto the damned site. I visited every link that had anything to do with them. As time went on, more and more news was made. More and more articles popped up. I felt worse and worse.
Pictures abounded. In most of them, they were kissing. Here, they were holding hands, cruising downtown Seattle. Kissing. One depicted them at a game. She was sitting right near the first base line, leaning over the short wall. She planted a kiss on his cheek. He wore a large grin.
My favorite is photo from a gala they attended for the Seattle Symphony. Someone had “surprised” them with a camera near the coat check (honestly, they should be used to this shit by now), as the caption under the picture said. He wore a black tux, she a narrow-skirted black gown. They were both wearing Mariners’ caps. He even wore his signature wrap-around reflective shades. But, as the next picture I found trumpeted, “Ichiro always takes off his shades to kiss his girlfriend.” It was true. In the picture, he had his shades in hand at his side as they locked lips.
The Japanese media followed them everywhere, charted their every movement. If you thought that Ichiro was big here, he’s a living legend, a god, in Japan. And, naturally, Finn was anointed goddess.
It hurt to read the articles in which she said how much she loved him. But it was evident. Any idiot could see it, in her eyes, in the way she touched him, the way she spoke of him. She truly loved the dope.
He knew he was the luckiest dope alive. I wonder if he knew that I was not only the stupidest dope alive for letting Finn go, but also the loneliest dope alive as well. I imagine that he doesn’t know of anything in this world except his love for Finn and baseball. And really, what else does a man need?
Whenever I go to Seattle now, I always walk down Pine Street, past Sam’s. She still works those double shifts, even now, after her millionaire-savior-god boyfriend bought her that shiny new Beamer after what yet another Japanese tabloid says, “a prolonged hissy-fit, in which Finley did not want to accept the extravagant gift.” She still lives in that same hole at the corner of East Pine and 12th. That’s Finn for ya.
Stubborn. She’s always been. I wonder if she’ll be like this if she married the nut. “My husband is a global gargantuan superstar, but we live in a studio apartment on the seventh floor of a high-rise in downtown Seattle. The Beamer actually fits into our allotted parking space.” Riiiiiiiight.
It mists in Seattle, so different from the sticky heat in Arlington. I kind of miss it. After a few smothering weeks in the South, it’s refreshing to come up to Seattle, kind of like stepping into a cold shower after running around in the summer heat all day. Then I walk past Sam’s, like the masochistic bastard I’ve become, and slow up as I pass the large glass plate storefront, with the painted coffee cup on the window. The cup wears a wide smile, unlike my gray face which matches the clouds above my head. I see her serving people their coffee, and I want to go in and talk to her again, rub salt on the wound, stick sewing needles up my peehole, or some other act of senseless self-inflicted, unnecessary pain. When did it get this hard?
The world is coming to an end.
No, not really, it just feels like that.
They’re getting married. THEY’RE GETTING FUCKING MARRIED!
I was in Seattle, for a game, and about a half-hour before first pitch, Ichiro went over to the short wall where she always sits. Instead of getting his usual pre-game smooch, he produced something from his pocket. He got down on one knee. I stared with horrified eyes at it all.
I could see her eyes get big enough to fall out of her head from where I sat in the dugout. She kind of fell over the wall and they both toppled onto the blue-green grass. The full house applauded wildly.
Maybe it was just my imagination, but I could have sworn I felt her eyes, and his, on me after she accepted his proposal. And I felt like I would die.
Two ceremonies. One in Seattle, one in Japan. Of course, this sent the Japanese media into an even bigger frenzy. According to my best friend Google.com, “even though there were enough security guards to flesh out the infantry in the entire Japanese army surrounded the premises, some hangers-on still gained access to the biggest social event in modern Japan.” Pictures, pictures everywhere. The wedding in Seattle was slightly more low-key.
Now they’re calling her the “Jackie O” of Japan. And it’s true. Those damned ricers love her as much as they love him. The charismatic sports hero and his lovely, kind American bride. I think they love her cos she’s not a boorish ass like they all think we are. And the fact that she speaks fluent Japanese just warms their muffins even more, I’m sure.
You would think the hysteria over the new Mrs. Ichiro would calm down after two years, but it hasn’t. Not while he’s a hero in Seattle, and not while Finn is, well, Finn.
Then came the baby.
Oh, yes, they had a kid. I sneaked a peek at her, at her position at Sam’s one gray and rainy afternoon. Her swollen belly bulged out so far, she had to hold her serving tray parallel to her collarbone, right above her breasts. Knowing her, she’d probably work until the day she gave birth, or the day they dragged her away and confined her to bed. She looked as though she’d have the kid right there and then, she was so large.
She gave birth later that week. You’d think that she and Ichiro were Mary and Joseph, and Bakuryu John Suzuki was the baby Jesus himself, for all the hullabaloo over such a small kid. They chose a Japanese first name, and the middle name? Her father’s. How sweet.
But they were the First Family, of Japan, of Seattle. No three people could be more beloved. They were picture perfect. Little Bakuryu could be seen trailing after Papa as soon as he was old enough to walk. He did look very sweet and cute in his little M’s uniform, just like Daddy.
I found out that after lots and lots of wrangling, Ichiro sent his wife to music school to develop her talent. It was her dream. Now why didn’t she listen to me when I told her to go? I guess if I had said it in Japanese, she would have.
So now we’ve got an international superstar husband, a classically trained French hornist wife, and the most celebrated child since Jesus. The world was Finn’s. I wonder if she’d ever thought she get it all.
The Mariners won the Series.
I watched from my big empty house. They drubbed Atlanta in four games. Ichiro, god of the world, won Series MVP. Nice addition to AL MVP, a batting title and my ex-girlfriend as his wife.
Best damned day of his life, hands down.
And just like that, he was dead.
My ex-girlfriend was at home, in Seattle, when Hubby won the Series. Little Bakuryu had come down with a nasty cold from the chilly hard rain that fell in late October, so she stayed behind to tend to him. They watched their beloved win it all on TV. Then came the phone call.
He promised them he’d be home by dawn. He’d been gone for two days and missed them like the dickens. He cheerfully told his wife not to worry, but expect him before she woke up. “I love you,” he said in Japanese.
His private jet made it home fine. His fancy red sports car did not. The dark and wet night took him off the highway from the airport and into a tree. They found him before dawn, not sure of how long he’d been like that, or if he was even alive.
He wasn’t. And Finn got the second call. She was at Bakuryu’s bedside. Her small son slept soundly for the first time since he’d gotten sick, soothed by his mother’s loving care and the promise of Daddy coming home at last. Two days can seem like a lifetime to a three year old. She heard the words, but they didn’t register. She hung up the phone and looked at Bakuryu. He woke, and asked where his father was. After all, the first light of the morning peeked through the blinds in his room, and Ichiro had promised to be home.
That’s when Finn really cried. She held her son fiercely and sobbed.
Seattle, baseball and Japan mourned along with her. Japan’s outpouring of support was the greatest. Their sporting king was dead. They shared Finn’s hollow pain. Now she truly was Jackie O’Japan. She had come into her own in the country’s eye, and they loved her as they loved him.
She’d quit Sam’s shortly after she’d had Bakuryu, so I can’t really tell you what I was doing there today. I opened the door to the cute coffee shop and sat at the counter. A waitress I recognized scowled at me. She pushed a menu my way and asked what I wanted. I ordered a coffee and asked her how Finn was doing. She scowled again and brought my coffee but didn’t answer me. A kinder waitress saw what happened and told me that Finn had moved to Japan with her son and joined a symphony in Tokyo. Google.com, trusty and loyal sidekick that it is, confirmed.
Now she was completely out of reach.
I think of her from time to time, worry about her and her son. Poor kid, losing his father so early. Finn showed a regal strength at all public appearances concerning her husband’s death, and all subsequent ones, but I knew that inside she was shredded. She’d loved him, he’d loved her, and they’d loved their son so much. People could only envy and admire them. True love like they had, that’s precious and rare.
So I guess that’s it. It only took me a tragic death to see what we’re all missing, and to realize that I still do love Finn and wish I could rewind time and prevent us from falling apart. But knowing what I know now, even then it wouldn’t have been enough. I love Finn, but I could never love her the way Ichiro did. That man worshipped her like she was a divine queen. He left her with a hole in her heart bigger than the one I left her with, but Death ripped him away, unwillingly and too early.