I am a baseball scout and that is a job which often conflicts with raising two young girls. It's not just the travel and work involved, which often limits my time with them. There is almost a mystical divide there. It can sometimes feel like I live in two different universes, and it is funny when they collide. The men's club that can be the world of scouting professional baseball players, and the girls club of hanging and playing with my daughters.
But it wasn't always this way.
Just 10 years ago I was a man who knew little about what it was to have a child, and how much I would prioritize her joy. I had just become a dad, but all I knew of parenting at that time was changing diapers, and walking and rocking my young daughter to sleep. I was still strictly in the man's club.
I remember I was scouting a Los Angeles Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium, and among the scouts in attendance that day was someone with whom I had interacted some over the previous five years or so, but not a lot. I knew him at the time to be the ultimate professional, a quiet, private man focused on doing his job and doing it without fuss or fanfare. But then that changed.
Midway through an otherwise typical game, this scout raised up in his seat and said, "That's Zack Efron over there."
Now, at the time, I am not sure I even knew who Zack Efron was, and I am someone who tends to know my movie stars and celebrities. But, perhaps because I was in my late 30s and my daughter was still so young, I was not part of the Efron era.
Then I watched in amazement as this scout jumped from his seat and ran - or ran as well as one could through a sea of seats, railings and fans - over to a nearby ramp, where he forced his way through a small crowd of gawkers, and leaned over, and took a photo of Efron - or Efron's entourage - with his cell phone.
He then hustled back to his scout seat and went back to work, explaining his unusual behavior simply by saying he "had to get a photo of Zack Efron for his daughters."
I was in shock. "Had to?" "Had to?" Oh, my. What would have happened if he hadn't?
So, fast forward to this past spring. Now I am a father of two young girls, and I know all about the Zack Efrons of the world. For example, I know way more than I ever thought I would about Ross Lynch. Don't know Ross Lynch? Don't have a young daughter, do you?
So I am sitting at an organizational dinner at a fancy restaurant in Florida. I work for a Major League team and this was an informal staff dinner, with about 20 of my colleagues who had been flown in for some meetings. The dinner was pleasure, but it was also business, especially since our bosses, including our new general manager, were there, and we had a rare chance to spend some quality time with them.
The meal was just ending and I was coming back to the table from the restroom when I heard a couple of my fellow scouts discussing whether or not they thought the woman who had just passed by their table was in fact Taylor Swift. They concluded that it was.
What? Taylor Swift? What? Where? Is she still here? Where did she go? Taylor Swift?
It was happening. Little else in the world mattered to me than the fact that I suddenly, maybe, perhaps had a chance to ... To .. To what? To see Taylor Swift, meet her, get a photo of her, with her?
My thoughts were racing. All I could imagine was the joy it would bring to my daughters if I could return home to them in a few days with a photo of Taylor Swift and me, arm in arm, at a restaurant.
Would not that be the greatest thing that ever happened in their universe? Their dad with Taylor Swift, only the most important, remarkable, talented person in the world.
Well, it did not happen.
Oh, I tried. I asked my colleagues where they had seen her and where she was headed, and where she might be now. And I searched the restaurant and lingered, and made other plans for returning to the hotel where we were all staying, and kept my eye out of for her, and did everything I possibly could to make it happen for as long as I could. But it was not to be. No Taylor Swift.
And now I understood. I was back in Dodger Stadium. I was that guy.
And you know what? I was more than happy to be him.