I didn’t grow up with cell phones- they came into vogue during my college years, and then I only considered them long-range walkie-talkies for the pretentious students, which is what they are, just more widespread now.
I caved and got one, like the rest of the universe. It was fine and good- then came Bluetooth. It was perplexing to me, having someone talk to the open air, apparently to no one. I couldn’t grasp it at first. For a long time I was answering questions not intended for me from complete strangers at bus stops.
“So, how is the love life these days?” the woman next to me would ask.
“Um….well, a little slow now that you ask. Why, were you interested?”
I learned much of the outer neighborhoods of Chicago in this way, as when it became clear to both of us that she wasn’t talking to me, I’d get on the next bus- no matter where it was going- out of complete mortification.
I bring this up now only because I still can’t tell when people are talking to me, but I have at least turned it to my advantage. One facet of the upheaval of fatherhood, I’m finding, is that I will never be the center of attention ever again. The best I can get is to be holding the new Superstar, to bathe in her limelight by mere proximity. The most I responsibility I can claim for her charm is the donation of a single spermatozoa. Some men actually pay real money to expel millions at a time. It is a dubious distinction.
I can pretend, though.
The Missus, in these early weeks, must rely on me to be her hands and feet much of the time, and this requires much verbal instruction, as I am a little thick, to be honest, and unaccustomed to taking directions well. She also talks to Baby G quite a bit, and I often get the wires crossed.
“Are you hungry? You look hungry,” she’ll say.
“Well…I suppose I am a bit peckish,” I’ll reply.
I’ve decided now to just pretend that these questions are intended for me. Having had to give up any notion of being a famous rock star, novelist, or any such madly successful celebrity, it is somehow soothing to think I am being waited on so attentively. Try it yourself. Imagine you have a personal assistant, or even better, an entourage, that follows you around at all hours, asking and telling you the following:
“Oh you peed? That’s so great! No one pees like you!”
“What would you like to wear today? Something to make you look more gorgeous than you are, I’m sure!”
“Way to burp! Good Job!”
“You look tired. Do you want it to be naptime?”
And a personal favorite,
“Do you want the Boob? Do you?” We can get out the Boob.”
Still, take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes Mom says silly things to amuse the tyke- remember this. If you take everything literally, you may find yourself in mild cardiac arrest when you hear from the other room:
“Oh No! Where’s the Baby?! I’ve lost the Baby! Do you know where the Baby is?!?”