Our oldest son and his lovely wife just had their first child, our first grandchild. In anticipation of the blessed event, these were the thoughts that dominated my mind: ugly babies, crying babies, peeing babies, fat babies, odd babies, alien babies, fussy babies, mean babies, and fat crying peeing babies. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve got to be straight with my readers. These thoughts happened because of my past experiences with The Babies of Others.
Please enjoy Part One: The Surprising Baby
Several years ago, family friends of ours had their first child. The husband was a handsome man; his wife was gorgeous. A few weeks after the doting new parents had brought the baby home they arranged an open house. My wife and I paid a visit to offer our heartfelt congratulations and make our introductions to the dear new female child.
While my wife chatted with family friends, I ventured to the baby’s room alone. This was an unwise move.
The baby’s room was decked out in all the latest infant amenities that the baby itself could not fully appreciate. A few people, various chunks of the immediate family, were draped around the ornate crib. They were chanting oohs and ahhs and coos and other bizarrely soothing noises.
I found an opening at one end of the crib, between two aged relatives. I peered over their shoulders; the relatives were of an age when people shrink and stoop over when they stand straight. I had a clear view of the wee occupant of the Baby Habitat 2000 (the name emblazoned on the crib). The wee one was swaddled in a few thousand tiny blankets and above it twirled a mobile of a beguilingly random assortment of exotic animals you would never want to meet face-to-face in the wild. And then I got my first full-on sighting of the newborn.
It was a monkey.
An ugly monkey. An ugly monkey other monkeys would probably shun. I planted a fist over my mouth and squinted at seeing this hideous little specimen. And directly across from me was the mom, beaming senselessly like only a new mother can.
I struggled with what to say. I knew what not to say, that being all the thoughts whipping around in my head. Wildly inappropriate remarks such as: “nice gargoyle, wait a while to take photos for the family album, it sure is a hairy thing, oh my goodness, what happened, where’s the real baby, holy smokes, do you people see what I see, yipes!”
But I had to say something, what with the little chimp’s human mother staring at me and occasionally dropping her adoring eyes on her child. I went with, “There sure are a lot of blankets. They’re nice blankets, but there are a lot of ‘em. Babies must get chilly easily. Wow, look at all those blankets.” The mom bought it or, more likely, she didn’t hear a word I said. Either way I was safe for the moment.
At least the monkey-baby was quiet.
Having made my point regarding the crib’s blanket tally, I excused myself, explaining that many others were waiting to greet the new baby.
Two attractive humans had produced the most profoundly unattractive small human I had ever seen. I gave some thought to the things my high school biology teacher tried to teach me about the way genetics worked. Lying bastard.
For months afterward, every time I watched a jungle movie , and the monkeys made their inevitable appearance, I thought about that poor, repugnant baby.
Next up, Part Two: The Astonishing Baby