The Two Amigos

Sometimes when Karen is out of town, I’ll head down to New York City with Nate. It’s a good way to keep him busy and he looks forward to plans. He’s got fond memories of our previous adventures – staying at the UN Plaza, Lombardi’s pizza, the Tim Burton exhibit at MOMA.  This past week we made our third such trip.

I had some book related meetings scheduled, so the timing was right. I’ll admit I was worried taking Nate to the Flatiron Building for the meeting with my publisher, especially after I told Nate I’d need to film a promotional interview.

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“Can I guest star in your video?” he asked.

“No, it’s for Split Season.” I told him. “What would you want to talk about anyway?”

“Maybe some of my childhood memories,” Nate answered. Granted, that would be a pretty funny video, but it wasn’t going to happen.  Guest starring in my video became a running joke between us. Not knowing how the interview would be filmed, I was concerned Nate would be in the same room, chattering away.

Our first stop was the office my publicist. Nate was fairly well-behaved. He did need to check out the bathroom, which was on another floor. He had to wait.

Nate has all these triggers, far too many to jot down. Let’s just say in any given situation, someone may say a word or phrase that will result in an automatic Nate response. In our conversation, my publicist said “blah blah blah.” That’s a trigger.

“Blah blah blah, like from Joey’s ‘Our Solar System’ book,” Nate chimed in. I knew it was coming, a rehashing of when Nate ruined a computer book Joey had created, replacing the text with “blahs.” There was nothing I could do to stop it.

Still, it wasn’t too off putting, just a bit odd. The ice was completely broken when Nate accidentally turned all the lights off in the office when he leaned on the switch. He immediately turned them back on, let out a huge laugh, and said, “We had a blackout.”

Everyone laughed. The Flatiron is very old, and there may have been the sense that a sudden power failure could actually happen at any time. Maybe the laughs were relief that the darkness was inadvertent.

From there we headed to a lower floor. Nate saw the bathroom and we went to film. Fortunately, Nate was in another room altogether with my agent and the publicist’s assistant. They seemingly got on well, Nate talking a bit about his “N-Boy” AlphaFOLKS t-shirt.

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We tried to go to Economy Candy, a place that Nate introduced us to, but Silvercup Studios was filming on Rivington and adjacent streets and street parking was nonexistent. All done in Manhattan, we drove to Brooklyn, where we were staying at a Holiday Inn Express.  For dinner we met my friend Paul, who knows Nate. We had great pizza at La Villa and that made Nate happy. The next morning we met up with my agent and her author friend who was interested in Nate.

Breakfast was a failure for Nate. You never know. He ordered pancakes, which are a reliable choice until they’re not. It has nothing to do with the quality; he’s just unpredictable about what he likes. The author was curious about Nate and, though I did most of the talking (as usual), Nate did answer some questions.

I explained about his art and obsession with bathrooms. My agent wondered if Nate had taken a picture at the Flatiron Building.

“I did,” he answered.

I was happy that the author had been reading up on Mission of Complex. Readers know I’m open about our Nate experiences and I’m happy to share the highs and lows. We left breakfast and Brooklyn and, though the record store and candy store we hoped to hit were either not open or impossible to park near, headed home, another nice journey completed.

Is Nate good company? He’s not very talkative, not at all interested in conversation, but he’s fun to be around. There are humorous moments, invariably comical situations (intentional and not), and I certainly know him enough to tease him into talking. And he is my son and there’s that bond, less obvious perhaps than the one I have with his brothers, but no less strong. Our New York City trips have become a tradition of ours and I look forward to them as much as Nate does.

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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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