BOSTON — Listen. I have a trade to propose: Me for Ron Darling. One for one. Here’s the deal. Darling, the New York Mets’ heartthrob pitcher, gets everything I own. Everything I ever accomplished. Everything I ever laid my eyes, ears or hands on, including my first bicycle. And I get to be him for 24 hours.
That’s all. Just one day. I do not jest. Everything in the kitty. For 24 hours.
Of course, I get to use those 24 hours any way I want. So if I accidentally spill some Dom Perignon on the carpet of his penthouse duplex in Manhattan, he can’t be ticked off. Or if I blow one of the modeling assignments he has for the cover of, what, Gentlemen’s Quarterly? Yeah. He can’t get too mad over that, either. After all, it takes awhile to get used to being that good-looking.
But I am willing to learn.
Under the agreement, I get to speak French, just like Darling. I get to claim Hawaii as my birthplace. I get to be 6- feet-3, 195 pounds, and sport that two-day stubble that everyone finds so sexy these days. I get to win a World Series game, 6-2 — as he did Wednesday night — and be interviewed by every TV camera in the free world. I get the Mercedes. I get to speak Mandarin
Did I mention Yale?
Oh, yeah. Yale. I get to call Yale my alma mater, get to stroll down the ivy path — or is that Harvard? Wait. Well, what’s the difference? — and when someone asks, “Did you really major in Southeast Asian history?” I get to shuffle my feet coyly and say, “Well, yeah, you know. . . .”
Your wife, Ron? The model from Ireland?
Part of the deal. He probably needs the rest
Now lest you think this a rash proposal, let me explain. I have been watching Darling, 26, since this World Series began. I knew about his academic background. I saw the brooding good looks.
Last week, in a crowd of reporters interviewing him at Shea Stadium, I noticed another crowd behind us in the stands. It was mostly young, attractive women screaming and waving pieces of paper. I believe they were phone numbers. Maybe they were stock tips.
Anyhow, the women kept screaming and waving and blowing kisses at my man here. It was then that I figured, “You know, this guy could use a break.”
Oh. Your pitching arm, Ron. I get that, too.
True, it is hard to believe a man with Hawaiian skin tone, an Elvis pout and wavy black hair, who earns more than a half- million a year, has been linked with Madonna and Brooke Shields, played defensive back in a Harvard-Yale football game, chats with Norman Mailer, plans to study Russian, looks natural in charcoal gray silk suits, and was once chased down a Manhattan street by a pack of squealing teenage girls, should also be blessed with a 15-6 record and a big World Series win for the New York Mets.
But then, that is why I’m suggesting the trade. You don’t give up the store to be Spike Owen. Take my typewriter, please
Now, I know there might be difficulties in my 24 hours as a star pitcher. It cannot be easy when your manager keeps calling you “Darling.”
But I’ll face that.
Did I mention the New York Times crossword puzzle? Darling has done that in eight minutes. I might take nine. Is that OK?
Listen, Ron. About your wife. Don’t worry. I’ll be so busy with the other things.
Besides, didn’t you once say getting married to a gorgeous, long-limbed, redheaded model was not in your plans when you two met? “The last thing I wanted was to meet someone unbelievably special,” I believe was the quote.
Ron. Kid. We all sympathize with that.
So why not take a day off? Ron Darling’s Day Off. They’ll probably make it into a movie. Meanwhile, you can have my typewriter and my files and there’s even a free one-way Greyhound bus ticket in my top drawer, I think to Philadelphia, a little something special for you, Ron, as a bonus.
Don’t worry. I will take good care of your existence. And you can mess up mine any way you like. Just don’t expect a Mercedes. It’s, uh, you know, in the shop. Yeah. That’s where it is.
So let’s do it. Make the trade. You can use the relaxation. And I am prepared for the tough times, the ugly side of being a World Series winner.
Your wife has been candid about what I might face. “Women sometimes push me out of the way to get Ronnie’s autograph,” she has moaned. “It can really be annoying.”
Like I always say, Ron, life’s a pitch.
CUTLINE Ron Darling