Rookie of the Year

The Sleepover

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #127. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath, who adds any typos or factual errors that might appear within.


You can sleep over if you want.

Everything in the world disappears.

You can sleep over if you want.

Seven words from my 4-year-old, Jacob. Soon I’m being made “cozy” in his bed. Stuffed animals smack into my face. At one point he tells me this is better with his mom . . . but it’s still pretty good, anyway. When he asks me, regularly, if I can still breathe, my answer isn’t always a confident yes.

Still, he covers me gently in blankets. He builds me a cave and crawls in next to me. We look out together through the holes.

It’s still light outside. Is that weird?

No, it’s totally normal, I tell him.

What can you see, Dad?

I can see your moon light on the ceiling.

This is our cave in outer space.

What can you see, Jacob?

The whole universe!

When the weekend comes, we’ll turn his entire bedroom into a fort, sheets clothes-pinned to a lamp, a chair, the top of his tent. We’ll fight aliens. We’ll camouflage the fort and fly it across the world. We’ll park on the top of his grandma’s house, where we can’t go. We’ll park it on the top of Big Ben, where we can’t go.

You got him in London, remember? I’ll ask Jacob, who’s holding one of our assembled crew members, Paddington Bear.

Yeah. Now I couldn’t. Because of the germ.

Tonight, though, we’re just having a sleepover.

Jacob leaves to make another “adjustment.” He asks me again if I can breathe. I tell him yes. He asks me if my legs are still cozy. I tell him yes. He asks me if the cave is getting better and I tell him yes.

I can’t see what he’s doing through the slits in the blanket but I hear him. The cave and the stuffed animals shift a bit but mostly stay the same. I’m the only thing that changes. The weight, the anxiety, melt away. I never want this to end.

He’s back in the cave.

I can’t see you, Dad.

That’s because one of your stuffed animals is between us.

Oh, yeah. That’s Mickey.

He moves Mickey. Along with some pillow shuffling, it’s the final adjustment.

This is the best day ever.

He settles in under my arm. He falls asleep. I fall asleep.

An hour or two later I wake up. My arm is sore. I’m hot. I hear movement down in the kitchen that reminds me I still need to do the dinner dishes.

I step out of the bed. I look back to see if he’s still sleeping. He is.

This is the best day ever.

Our cave is collapsed. I get my phone. I glance at my texts and news alerts. I check my work email. I go downstairs. I carry the rest of the groceries from the car. I start scrubbing the pots.


Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.

Ad Free, Feature, Life, Rookie of the Year