The first time I said "I love you" to Robin, he got scared. So scared that he ran out of the restaurant and started acting very distant. Cold. I wanted to pretend everything was OK, but I knew deep down (perhaps not even all that deep) that I had gone too far. When I finally pressed and asked what was wrong, he said he wasn't even sure what "love" meant. He was scared of my feelings. Of his feelings. Perhaps of all feelings.
He said, "Schnauzer, we're only 14 years old. These feelings... when did you know?" I made him promise not to laugh. I sat him on the bed and I took his hand in mine. I said, "Do you remember the time when we were in my backyard chasing fireflies? And you had, like, 20 in your jar, and I had one with a broken bulb? And then Tim Anderson came outside and started teasing us?" Robin remembered. Like it was yesterday. We recalled how TA7 mocked me by chanting "Schnauzer loves Robin!"
Embarrassed, and unwilling to own up to my feelings in front of my peers, I denied the truth. My truth.
"Yuck!" I cried. "I hate him!"
But, I tell Robin... that's when I knew. That's when I knew I loved him, and that no other shortstop would ever be as good. He ruined me for all shortstops. Yet we were just children.
"Schnauzer! We were only 6!"
I wait for the laughtrack to die down and then I say, "Who cares?"
Still, Robin isn't sure. "How could you know then? I'm not even sure what 'I love you' means now."
I reached over and brushed some old flecks of food out of his mustache. I pull out a stiff-bristled brush and I scruffed some dead skin out of his horrifically acne-scarred face.
"Look," I tell him. "All I know is that you and I belong together. I've always been able to talk to you, to make you laugh and I've always, always wanted you to bat 7th on my god squad..."
He seems to soften a little.
"So that's what I love you means?"
"Yeah," I tell him. He's silent. For a long time. A long, uncomfortable amount of time. So I head to his window, and I prepare to climb out of his room and out of his life. Forever. "Bye."
"Schnauzer?" he calls as I'm already out of frame. "I love you too."
Then I throw him back my jean jacket. Or maybe that was a different episode. Maybe that's when he told me his family was moving to Pittsburgh and that we would have to break up. Or maybe it was after I caught him pretending to be a French foreign exchange student at that party at Hamilton High. I don't remember. We broke up so many times.
Things were great after that. For a while. Then we went skiing on a class trip and I sprained my ankle. I spent the whole night talking to 99 Honus Wagner, and, in the morning -- after we watched the moon pass over the mountains -- he kissed me. Of course, Robin found out. We split up. But only for a while. Because, you see, true love -- like the love between a Schnauzer and a Yount -- it can overcome anything. Everything! Even if I made out with the girl from Freaks & Geeks and then lied about it.
After graduation, he proposed. We knew it would be hard, but we made it work. He was my shortstop for life, and there was nothing anyone could do to change that.
Thank you, SDS. Thank you for bringing my shortstop home.