Monday, October 10, 2011
COLUMN: Baby Fever
I'm really worried, people.
I first noticed it in her eyes the other day. I didn't want to say anything because I was too afraid of the truth. I couldn't admit it to myself, but I knew something was wrong. My girlfriend just wasn't acting herself. Little did I know that it was the beginnings of a medical crisis that could change our lives forever.
I was right. It turns out that my girlfriend has an acute case of... baby fever. This is NOT a good thing.
I suppose she's had it for a long time. For as long as I've known her, she's loved kids. I mean, she's a first-grade teacher, so she'd BETTER love kids. (Though, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that MY first grade teacher HATED children. True story: instead of a time-out corner, if you acted up in HER class, you had to sit under a dark cardboard refrigerator box that smelled of pee. I was never a fan.)
Ever since we've been together, I've seen my girlfriend go ga-ga for babies and wee kids that she spots in restaurants. She'll sit there and make faces at them and laugh and coo and I'm fine with all this because it gives me more time to peruse the appetizer menu. As for the babies? Well, sure, I guess they're cute and all... but the minute I take a gander is the time when they'll decide to spit up or put their finger up their nose or pick up something off the ground and eat it.
I guess I don't understand why both science and religion inform us that human beings are the smartest and most superior race on the planet, yet our offspring need to endure years of training to understand that food goes in the mouth-hole and pee-pee goes in the potty. My girlfriend, on many an occasion, has made claim that my two cats are, for lack of a better word, stupid. And as much I love my cats, she's pretty much correct in her assessment. Yet even in their dumbest moments as wee kittens, my cats knew to hike on down to the litterbox if they were plotting a doodie. The only thing human babies know how to do is occasionally look cute whilst emitting disturbing amounts of disturbing things from pretty much every hole in their bodies. I don't get it.
I just sort of assumed that we'd be together for a few years, work our way into engagement and marriage, and maybe by then I'd be prepped to handle a gooey, phlegmy, urine-soaked progeny or two. But then the unthinkable happened:
One of her best friends got pregnant.
This has been a learning experience for me. Primarily, I've learned that baby-crazed females require a wide berth, a lot of patience, and the ability to develop a repertoire of sincere responses like "mm hmm" to be used often and repeatedly. But this has already gotten me into trouble -- I zigged when I shoulda zagged. I weebled when I shoulda wobbled. I "mm-hmm"-ed when Amy asked if she could throw her friend a baby shower in my basement.
A basement might not sound like the warmest, most relaxing environment for a gaggle of girls, but we're talking about MY basement. For the past year, I (and as always, "I" means my dad, who spends most of his time in indentured servitude to me) have been working tirelessly to turn my basement into a multi-media respite, a testosterone-fueled nerd paradise... the man-cave of all man-caves. It's nearly done. All I need are a few more speakers, some ethernet cable, and a couch just WAITING for a permanent indentation in the shape of my butt.
But how does my man-cave get inaugurated? By looking like the place where Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite go to purge their sugar and spice and everything nice. I walked downstairs on the eve of the party to find... lollipops. Pastel hues of pink and blue. Little ornamental cakes with little ornamental frosting. Balloons. Flowers. CUTENESS everywhere. Shudder.
I was told not to worry. While the girl gaggle was downstairs doing whatever girls do at baby showers, I was promised an afternoon upstairs of relaxation without interruption. But do you think this came to be? Nope. Not when a couple of the invitees surprised us by bringing THEIR children... which resulted in me being becoming the de facto babysitter of the gala. Little did I know I'd spend the next two hours saying phrases like, "Err, no no. We don't take the game controller and throw it at your brother, little dude." I barely survived with my sanity, and it took days before my man-cave was back to its drab neutral earth tones that bring me solace. A pile of deflating balloons in its corner still serves as a reminder of its once-hellish past.
So now it's a waiting game until my girlfriend's friend pops out her screaming, crying, adorable little phlegm factory. And she wants Amy in the delivery room when it happens. I'm praying the sight is so gross that it creeps her out a little, but I'm going to guess that it'll be a magical experience that'll take baby fever to an altogether new level. I'm just hoping that it doesn't happen on a Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday night -- because those are the nights Amy babysits for extra cash, and guess who gets to be the on-call babysitter du jour? My man-cave's destined to be a nursery before I know it.
In the meantime, the girls are a-twitter running around buying last minute baby essentials. Today at lunch, I found out she bought a car seat and a book for the as-yet-to-technically-exist human-ling. I want to be supportive, I really do. I thought long and hard about what I could bring to the conversation. I chose this:
"A book? It won't be able to read for at least four years, right? And a car seat? Already? Don't you want to wait and make sure it doesn't come out with, like, 8 legs or something? That'll be a waste of money if she has an octo-baby, I'm just sayin'."
For future reference, this is NOT the right thing to say.
Don't worry, I'm sure her friend's baby will come out with the correct number of everything and be all super-cute and make everyone gush and goo and talk in REALLY silly baby voices and cause my girlfriend to go from baby fever to baby pneumonia and then it'll be my time to put up or shut up, I guess. For now, I'm okay watching others live the baby experience. Like last weekend, when we were at this party, and there was this little guy there who clearly had just learned to walk, and he was waddling around, wearing a pair of oversized sunglasses, and came up to us with the dopiest little smile on his face and he was just the cutest little k...
AAGH! BABY FEVER IS CONTAGIOUS! NOOO! RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!