In a prior post I noted a conspiracy theory I found regarding the identity of Mario’s father. Well, last week, after going through Orin’s “origin story” on pages 283 to 299 (which was quite good, by the way) and Mario’s “origin story” on pages 312 to 317 (which is also very good), I think I can say with absolute certainty that Orin is not Mario’s father.
First, Orin experienced a delayed puberty:
His competitive peak had come at thirteen, when he’d gotten to the 14-and-Under quarterfinals of the National Clays in Indianapolis IN and in the Quarters had taken a set off the second seed; but starting soon after that he’d suffered athletically from the same delayed puberty that had compromised his father when Himself had been a junior player, and having boys he’d cleaned the clocks of at twelve and thirteen become now seemingly overnight mannish and deep-chested and hairy-legged and starting now to clean Orin’s own clock at fourteen and fifteen — this had sucked some kind of competitive afflatus out of him, broken his tennis spirit, Orin, and his U.S.T.A. ranking had nosedived through three years until it levelled off somewhere in the low 70s, which meant that by age fifteen he wasn’t even qualifying for the major events’ main 64-man draw.
This is bottom of 283, top of 284. So, Orin hit puberty around fourteen/fifteen.
And here, at the bottom of 314, is the passage that establishes their ages:
Or that his status at the Enfield Tennis Academy — erected, along with Dr. and Mrs. Fs marriage’s third and final home at the northern rear of the grounds, when Mario was nine and Hallie eight and Orin seventeen and in his one E.T.A. year B-4 Singles and in the U.S.T.A.’s top 75 — that Mario’s life there is by all appearances kind of a sad and left-out-type existence, the only physically challenged minor in residence, unable even to grip a regulation stick or stand unaided behind a boundaried space.
When Orin was 17, Mario was 9. So, is there any chance that an 8-year-old who hasn’t hit puberty yet be able to generate the magic juice to make a baby? I don’t think so, even in the IJ universe.