The Rosie Project Page 56

We were back at the hotel early - 4.32 p.m.

\Back here at 6.30,\ said Rosie.

\What are we having for dinner?\

\Hot dogs. We\ e going to the baseball.\

I never watch sport. Ever. The reasons are obvious - or should be to anyone who values their time. But my reconfigured mind, sustained by huge doses of positive reinforcement, accepted the proposition. I spent the next hundred and eighteen minutes on the internet, learning about the rules and the players.

On the subway, Rosie had some news for me. Before she left Melbourne, she had sent an email to Mary Keneally, a researcher working in her field at Columbia University. She had just received a reply and Mary could see her tomorrow. But she wouldn\ be able to make it to the Museum of Natural History. She could come Wednesday, but would I be okay by myself tomorrow? Of course I would.

At Yankee Stadium we got beer and hot dogs. A man in a cap, estimated age thirty-five, estimated BMI forty (i.e. dangerously fat), sat beside me. He had three hot dogs! The source of the obesity was obvious.

The game started, and I had to explain to Rosie what was happening. It was fascinating to see how the rules worked in a real game. Every time there was an event on the field, Fat Baseball Fan would make an annotation in his book. There were runners on second and third when Curtis Granderson came to the plate and Fat Baseball Fan spoke to me. \If he bats in both of these guys he\ll be heading the league on RBI. What are the odds?\

I didn\ know what the odds were. All I could tell him was that they were somewhere between 9.9 and 27.2 per cent based on the batting average and percentage of home runs listed in the profile I had read. I had not had time to memorise the statistics for doubles and triples. Fat Baseball Fan nevertheless seemed impressed and we began a very interesting conversation. He showed me how to mark the programme with symbols to represent the various events, and how the more sophisticated statistics worked. I had no idea sport could be so intellectually stimulating.

Rosie got more beer and hot dogs and Fat Baseball Fan started to tell me about Joe DiMaggio\s \streak\ in 1941 which he claimed was a uniquely odds-defying achievement. I was doubtful, and the conversation was just getting interesting when the game ended, so he suggested we take the subway to a bar in Midtown. As Rosie was in charge of the schedule, I asked for her opinion, and she agreed.

The bar was noisy and there was more baseball playing on a large television screen. Some other men, who did not appear to have previously met Fat Baseball Fan, joined our discussion. We drank a lot of beer, and talked about baseball statistics. Rosie sat on a stool with her drink and observed. It was late when Fat Baseball Fan, whose actual name was Dave, said he had to go home. We exchanged email addresses and I considered that I had made a new friend.

Walking back to the hotel, I realised that I had behaved in stereotypical male fashion, drinking beer in a bar, watching television and talking about sport. It is generally known that women have a negative attitude to such behaviour. I asked Rosie if I had offended her.

\Not at all. I had fun watching you being a guy - fitting in.\

I told her that this was a highly unusual response from a feminist, but that it would make her a very attractive partner to conventional men.

\If I was interested in conventional men.\

It seemed a good opportunity to ask a question about Rosie\s personal life.

\Do you have a boyfriend?\ I hoped I had used an appropriate term.

\Sure, I just haven\ unpacked him from my suitcase,\ she said, obviously making a joke. I laughed, then pointed out that she hadn\ actually answered my question.

\Don,\ she said, \don\ you think that if I had a boyfriend you might have heard about him by now?\

It seemed to me entirely possible that I would not have heard about him. I had asked Rosie very few personal questions outside the Father Project. I did not know any of her friends, except perhaps Stefan who I had concluded was not her boyfriend. Of course, it would have been traditional to bring any partner to the faculty ball, and not to offer me se* afterwards, but not everyone was bound by such conventions. Gene was the perfect example. It seemed entirely possible that Rosie had a boyfriend who did not like dancing or socialising with academics, was out of town at the time, or was in an open relationship with her. She had no reason to tell me. In my own life, I had rarely mentioned Daphne or my sister to Gene and Claudia or vice versa. They belonged to different parts of my life. I explained this to Rosie.

\Short answer, no,\ she said. We walked a bit further. \Long answer: you asked what I meant about being f*ked-up by my father. Psychology 101 - our first relationship with a male is with our fathers. It affects how we relate to men forever. So, lucky me, I get a choice of two. Phil, who\s f*ked in the head, or my real father who walked away from me and my mother. And I get this choice when I\m twelve years old and Phil sits me down and has this ’’I wish your mother could be here to tell you’’ talk with me. You know, just the standard stuff your dad tells you at twelve - I\m not your dad, your mum who died before you could know her properly isn\ the perfect person you thought she was, and you\ e only here because of your mother being easy and I wish you weren\ so I could go off and have a life.\

\He said that to you?\

\Not in those words. But that\s what he meant.\

I thought it highly unlikely that a twelve-year-old - even a female future psychology student - could correctly deduce an adult male\s unspoken thoughts. Sometimes it is better to be aware of one\s incompetence in these matters, as I am, than to have a false sense of expertise.

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