History Day

Yesterday was Elise’s birthday and Karen and I suggested Nate take her out for lunch. She demurred, but then said, “Well maybe we can go to New York Pizzeria,” which is a short stroll from our house. Nate had other ideas. The Cooperstown McDonald’s (actually, 3 miles south of the Village) is undergoing renovations and Nate wanted to check on the progress. He didn’t want to eat there. Instead, he had his eyes on Pizza Hut.

Yesterday was also New York State History Day. Joey had advanced to this statewide round with his documentary Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Prevention, a nice overview of the mid-’80’s music censorship wars. Students from throughout the state descended on Cooperstown to present their projects at The Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and other buildings scattered on the grounds. The kids had a lunch break at the same time Nate and Elise were headed out.

At Pizza Hut, Nate headed straight for the bathroom. Finding the door to the Men’s Room locked, he entered the Women’s Room. This isn’t new. We’ve always had a problem with Nate and boundaries and the violation of the Ladies’ Room space is a constant source of trouble. Sometimes he simply wants to see the fixtures (sinks, toilets, the surprising lack of urinals), but there’s absolutely nothing prurient about his adventures. But sometimes he will go into that mysterious lair because he has to. Like when the Men’s Room is not available. Truth be told, I’ve done thatmyself, circumstances depending. If there are single bathrooms, identical but for the signs on the door, I’ll go in with no concern that I’ll be invading sacred space.

As Nate told me later, the girls who saw him enter were shocked into silence. That’s not what Elise saw. From her seat in the restaurant, she saw a pack of girls leaving the bathroom squealing and giggling, just seconds after Nate had left her side. Not just any girls, a group of head-scarfed Muslim girls.

“A boy walked into the girls’ room!”

Elise rolled her eyes; it couldn’t be anyone but Nate.

I spoke with Nate about how wrong it is to go the Girl’s Room. He denied and denied, but I know when he’s bluffing. Finally, he confessed to all.

“I’ll never do it again,” he said in that sincere voice he puts on when he’s sorry.

I don’t believe that.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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