Justin and Justina, two fictional, similarly-named, and unusual friends, comprise The New Leaf Journal’s resident humorous dialogue duo. You can read their many past adventures around Brooklyn (and occasionally Manhattan) in their series archive. They occasionally have friends join their dialogues. One of these friends is Proton Von, Justin’s baseball star high school classmate. We first introduced Proton Von in a dialogue about Justin’s so-called pitching injury, and he made later appearances in our 2021 Independence Day dialogue and a piece on Justina’s real name. In today’s dialogue, we find Justin, Justina, and Proton Von enjoying brunch (at Justina’s insistence) on a January afternoon in Brooklyn. Justina, having attended the high school of Proton Von’s rival (see the name dialogue), does not know all of Justin’s and Von’s stories. She puts in a story request and learns about Proton Von’s ineffable humility. I present to you the modest virtues of self-awe.
Justin, Justina, and Proton Von are enjoying their brunch and having a good time. As we pick up the dialogue, the subject appears to be something having to do with their high school days. But what came before is unimportant. It is what begins with a certain statement from Justina to Von sets us down an interesting path.
Justina: You must have been popular in high school with how good you were at baseball.
Proton Von: I mean… I don’t like to brag, but…
Justin: Justina! Popular is too vulgar here.
Justina: What? Popular is bad?
Justin: Yes, Proton was popular. To be sure, he had a fan club.
Proton Von: They claimed they were rooting for the team but I could tell they really weren’t into baseball.
Justina: I mean…
Justin: Yes, he was too pure for that!
Proton Von: Let’s go with that instead of I was not interested in dating any members of the fan club. I’m like where Justin is taking this with the nobility angle.
Justina: No! Don’t do it! Don’t get sucked into his flow.
Justin: When has that ever gone wrong for you, Justina?
Proton Von: Don’t worry, Justin knows my best stories.
Justin: To be sure, Justina, a plebian could say that Proton Von was popular. Just as someone could say that I talk good.
Justina: Did you just call me a plebian? And no one would ever complement your speaking!
Justin: I didn’t call you a plebian, I just said that something you said is something that a plebian would say.
Justin: Anyway, the best way to describe Proton Von back in the day is admired.
Proton Von: See? I like where this is going.
Justina: You haven’t spent enough time with Justin in the last decade.
Justin: Eureka! I just remembered a story to best articulate how Proton Von’s peers looked up to him.
Justina: Nothing good has ever come from Justin saying eureka…
Proton Von: Thank you for your concern, Justina. But if Justin is going to tell a story from my days as an ace, I have to step up to the challenge.
Justina: You’ve been warned!
Justin: When Proton Von was a senior, we had a freshie playing second base. His name was Justin.
Justin: No no, I was just watching. This was a different Justin. We couldn’t stay friends after high school because this would be too confusing.
Proton Von: Justy! Man, I knew he had big potential. He became the captain when he was a junior.
Justin: But he made a big error in one game. Other team scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Justin was upset, but Proton Von calmed him down.
Proton Von: I remember that. He was a good kid, upset because he cared. I gave him a tough pep talk and told him we were going to need him to strike back in the bottom of the ninth.
Justina: Wait what’s the 9th?
Proton Von: Well baseball ha…
Justin: Don’t worry about it. Basically we needed one run to tie and two runs to win very soon or it was going to be bedtime for Vonzo.
Proton Von: Sigh, don’t worry about it. He’s getting to the good part.
Justin: So anyway, we got a runner on second early in the ninth. Proton Von up fourth with one out. He drives in the runner with a double. Now we have one out, Proton Von, the potential winning run, is on second. Now don’t tell her Proton…
Justin: Who was up next?
Justina: To bad?
Justin: No, I said I was watching.
Justina: The BASEBALL Justin.
Justin: Oh, him? No. Casey.
Proton Von: We always expected so much from Casey.
Justina: Who is Casey?
Justin: The guy who struck out looking. So who was up next?
Justina: The baseball Justin?
Justin: You’re learning.
Justina: He was?
Proton Von: It was his moment to be clutch.
Justin: Aw, you spoiled it! But yes, thanks to Proton Von’s pep talk after Justin’s epic fail in the top of the ninth, Justin lived up to his lofty name and drove in the winning run in Proton Von.
Proton Von: Redemption.
Justina: Wow, so Proton Von inspired him to score the winning hit?
Proton Von: He did it himself, he had the clutch in him. I just told him to focus on what he could do instead of dwelling on his error.
Justin: Wait wait, I haven’t gotten to the admired part yet.
Justina: You haven’t?
Proton Von: …I don’t remember what happened next.
Justin: So after they shake hands with the other team, I hear Justin say to Proton Von: “Man, I’m in awe of you Von. I can’t believe how you still had confidence that we would pull through like that. I hope I can become like you.”
Proton Von: Wow, that’s moving.
Justin: What was really moving was what came next.
Justin: Proton Von responded: “Don’t worry Justin, you’re already just like me.”
Proton Von: …Oh no… I just remembered. I think I know where this is going…
Justin: Justin couldn’t believe what he heard. Much like what Justina said.
Proton Von: You were right Justina… you warned me.
Justin: Proton Von continued: “I’m in awe of me too.”
Proton Von: I really said that didn’t I!?
Justin: Not only was he admired, he was humble. He gave Justin the confidence to erase his error and then made an effort to relate to Justin. Wow. Amazing. Very clutch.
Proton Von: He laughed! Ok! It was funny!
Justin: He did… so did I. It was a great line. You know this is kind of like how I try to relate to people who say plebian things.
Justina: …Von is much cooler than you! Don’t even!
Proton Von: Now Justin is plenty cool…
Justin: Oh for sure, he definitely is.
Justina: You admitted it!