About three years ago, a friend of mine contacted me. “Is the second bedroom in your apartment still open?” it had gotten to the point, when people asked me about the open room, I tensed up. When my sister moved to Maine, I had people trying to move in “I’m only home Monday - Wednesday” “I don’t have any stuff” “I’m just looking for a temporary place” The last one is always the worst. It reads as “I won’t have much respect for my surroundings. I’m also finding my way so I might be coming home late and drunk with low budget lovers”
I’ve never gotten away with a lie so I replied honestly. “Yes, it is still open”
He went on to say a friend of his father’s from South Africa was coming in for a weekend and needed a place to stay. He’d pay me. I pretended to be soothed by the fact he was a friend of my friend’s Dad. How bad could he be. But to be honest, it was the he’d pay me that spurred my quick decision.
Two days later I got an email from my impending visitor. “May I have your address? Are you home during the day? Could you accept a package for me? I am ordering softballs.”
I found this alarming. First, I do not want to sign for a package for a person from another country whom I have yet to meet. Two, softballs? Really? I’m not buying it. Three, sounds like a responsibility. If I say yes, now I open myself up to emails regarding the status of the package.The window of time when the package might arrive, rearranging my schedule for a softball handoff. I told him no. Well, I lied and said I’m not around. He’d be in South Africa, no way to get busted.
It turned out I was going to be gone the Friday night of the weekend visit. I arranged for him to get keys etc. Saturday I came home and he was there in the living room with his suitcase open. There were four softballs in the suitcase and not much else.
“I was all over the city looking for softballs today. I can’t believe they are so hard to find” he said.
“Really? I can’t believe it either. Where did you go?” Immediately sorry I asked because now I was in on it. I was going to compulsively try to help him find more softballs. I started naming stores and locations. “Did you got downtown, like the financial district? I think there is a sporting goods store there. You should call around”
I was tired and sick of softball talk so I excused myself and said I was going to wash up.
“Will I see you tomorrow?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. I plan on sleeping late” aka hiding in my room.
“Well, if I don’t see you. Can I leave this bag of clothes? My wife made me bring all the clothes that she hates and told me not to bring them back with me.” He motioned to a garbage bag full of clothes.
“What am I supposed to do with it?” I said.
“Maybe somebody wants them”
So the question really is, can you find people to take my used clothes that the most important woman in my life finds repulsive.
“You can throw it in the garbage can to the right of the front door”
“Ok. One more thing, I have this bag (he motions to another bag of stuff, this time a shopping bag) for my friend Thomas. He said he’d come pick it up.”
“I really don’t feel comfortable being the middleman”
“It’s just a softball and a mitt”
“Fine , leave it” I said with a huff but he didn’t notice.
I’m fighting for my boundaries like a middleweight in a heavyweight ring.
I never saw him again. I did see his bag of clothes next to the trash can outside. The bag was too big to fit in the already full can. I’ll admit, I thought about looking at the clothes his wife hated so much. I also thought about contacting the wife and asking “what’s up with the softballs?”
He had told me it was hard to get softballs in South Africa. If this was true, sounds like an untouched market! I could be a softball exporter.
I never did any further research on exporting softballs or South African softball competition but I recently found the shopping bag for Thomas. It had a mitt and a baseball hat in it, both with the tags still on. I wondered if Thomas even knew his friend had bought him a gift. And how disappointed he would have been if he came all the way to Brooklyn to pick it up. Maybe South Africans are known for giving bad gifts. What do I know?
Either way, I did what I should have done three years ago. I took pictures of them and put them on eBay.
Got one bid on the softball.
Not from South Africa.
Thanks for listening!
Kendra is a stand-up comic living in Brooklyn where she owns a super comfortable bed. She spends most of her time wondering where the hell her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn’t settle.
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