I’ve always wanted to be the cool, composed guy. The guy that provides a calming presence in nerve-wracking situations. If someone is panicking, I’d like to be the guy that they call because they know that, just because of his presence, things will get better. The shelter in the storm.
Instead, I’m more like the cartoon friend that mistakes your important business documents for toilet paper and teaches you a valuable lesson about acceptance.
“You can’t warm your MITTENS in the MICROWAVE, Daniel!”
“Yeah, but loving people for who they are is the only way to truly maintain a relationship.”
I’m that guy. The guy that teaches you about kindness and, after a heinous trial and error period, manages to stop shitting all over your CEO’s files.
Two of my best friends in Asheville recently had a baby, and I wanted to figure out how to ask to see the baby. On my way to visit them, I realized that I needed to ask them in a way that momentarily tricked them into thinking that I was fit, in any way, to be close to a newborn. I couldn’t do it casually or aloofly. I couldn’t say “So, that baby, huh? Does he like being seen?” because that would make me seem like the kind of guy who gets a nickname that’s just a town followed by the word “strangler.”
If I can be perfectly honest, even though it happened yesterday, I can’t remember how I asked to see the baby. I don’t remember when I dropped it into the conversation, leading me to believe that it wasn’t me who did it, but my subconscious. “I don’t know. I’m just not sure about a new X-Men movie. (Can I see the baby?) It just feels like the franchise has gone as far as it’s going to go for now.” Something like that. Because, before I knew it, I was being led to the floor where the babies are kept. You can tell that I was entirely unprepared for this because I just referred to it as “the floor where the babies are kept,” like I’m a troll that grants wishes after being given a certain number of babies.
After washing my hands, I had to sign a name tag, which is part of the Seeing The Baby Competence Test. And I failed miserably. Instead of signing a tag on my first try, I signed one of the spaces that a tag had already been peeled from. Then, in a panic, I tried to mark out the first attempt. I had been up to the floor WHERE THE BABIES ARE KEPT for a total of thirty seconds, and I had already turned it into a screwball comedy from the ‘20s. Alert all staff. We have a Code Buster Keaton. Stay on the lookout for any cases of pratfalls and deadpan expressions.
Luckily, I managed to make it to the baby without comically hanging off the side of any buildings or mistaking another person’s child for a slab of ham that’d been wrapped up in blankets. I’ve watched a few other people see babies for the first time, and they always remark “Awww, look at how tiny he/she is!”, as if they’re going to stay that way forever. Babies are always going to be tiny. If they were regular human-sized, most of the horrifying post-pregnancy period would be spent re-inflating the mother with a bicycle pump. So, instead of cooing about the fact that the baby was small when compared to me, I said nothing, and just listened to the father explain all of the things that he liked about his new son.
I think we’re kind of cynical about new, young fathers because of how much Teen Mom we’ve ingested over the years. We have this huge fear that the baby will come, and the Dad will be like “He’s okay, I guess. But you know what’s really cool? How hot the waitress at the pizza place is! Random girl butts, right?” So it was nice to be momentarily annoyed by how gushy my friend was about his child. “Yeah, yeah. His hands are really little. Big deal. Awww, his hands ARE REALLY LITTLE. LITTLE HANDS.”
We’re also pretty cynical about new parents because a decent chunk of us are not new parents. We wave our Hand of Wisdom over them and announce that everything is about to suck and that they don’t know what they’re getting into and that we have some kind of insight that they don’t have, and that’s why we’re not… bathing in the warmth of starting a family or creating a connection with another human being that is stronger than any other connection that we’ve ever known or ever will know.
Maybe we should just let new parents be happy for a minute before we start bombarding them with statistics and opinions about how hard it is to raise children. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go poop into a briefcase.