THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART, NEXT TO THE LIFELONG FINANCIAL OBLIGATION.
Getting down to crunch time over here, folks. Nine months: not a real long span of time, it turns out. The components for a crib/changing table are lying on the floor of what will soon be my son’s first room. My wife has a tiny, rapidly forming person living in her stomach. This is a possible thing that happens all the time. Everyone is evidence.
Right now she is peeling an orange on the couch beside me. This couch is pretty new. It’s good-looking without being too ostentatious, floral but darkly so. One could imagine any age group being fine with it. We finally broke down and went to a bed store and bought a bed to replace the ancient, yellowed rectangle of despair that once faithfully bore our slumbering weight. Our new bed is very comfortable, and we are both quite satisfied with it. It is also, between the girth of the mattress and the legginess of the frame, a good four feet off the ground. It is no mean feat for a diminutive pregnant woman to scale this bed, and my wife typically requires assistance. When we go shopping, I find myself having to slow my pace more than I would have thought. I’m a pretty slow-walkin’ kind of guy. I heel-toe it. Pre-pregnancy, I sometimes felt as though I were jogging behind Annie whenever we were out and about. Now I’m absent-mindedly leaving her in the dust on our way to the car.
Ladies really get the short end of the stick on this deal, or rather the shaft, or rather…well, folks, there’s no way out of a hackneyed penis joke here, I’m afraid, but all the same, I should be using the time I waste thanking God or whoever for not making me a woman on appreciating what said women, or at least my wife, go through to populate this stinking rock. Under no circumstances would I sign up for a school year’s worth of fatness followed by crapping a child into a doctor’s face. I would avoid that at all costs. I would take a pass. I’m sure Erma Bombeck or someone like that has probably expressed a similar sentiment with more eloquence (or, failing that, family-friendly sass), but if menfolk were the ones who got pregnant, the human race would have become extinct centuries ago. There would have been three human beings in the history of the world, whereupon the first man would have cried himself to death following the pain of delivery and the first woman and first child would have eventually died of natural causes or been trampled by mammoths, provided those weren’t already extinct for the same reasons. The universe would be spared our insufferable pomposity and wanton waste/destruction, and I never would have had to sit through “Vegas Vacation”. But no, women had to be all responsible and badass and give birth to all the babies and now here we all are, all the babies, and I have to go to work tomorrow. Fairness: why was the word ever even invented?
Annie also has to stab herself in the finger every now and then and look at some doohickey that flashes a number at her that makes her feel bad about her glucose levels. Everything on her hurts all the time, and I don’t always do a good job at masking my lack of enthusiasm as regards rubbing her feet. I’ve also been forgetting to put the toilet seat down lately, which is weird since during all those years she wasn’t pregnant and didn’t really care about the toilet seat one way or another, I ruled at putting it down (though the other night I myself deservedly suffered at the hands of my own disregard in this area during the beginning stages of an unexpected 3 A.M. bowel movement; suffice it to say that submerging my entire ass in toilet water isn’t an experience I look forward to repeating anytime soon). I’m pretty good about washing the dishes all of a sudden, though. And I cook shit. Chicken and vegetables and stuff. Canned vegetables are really inexpensive. I had no idea. They go pretty well with things once you get used to choking them down every night. I like beets. And corn. Even green beans aren’t all that terrible. I don’ t know how convincing I’ll be at encouraging/forcing the child to eat vegetables, though. I remember all too well how little I used to enjoy them when I was but a tot, and the health they supposedly provided was never tangible enough to have been worth it. I don’t know if I have it in me to angrily demand that another human being ingest legumes. Is that even something parents are still expected to do?
Lately we’ve been watching a ton of old “Leave It to Beaver” episodes. If you have Netflix and are so inclined, you can do the same via their instant viewing service, or better yet go see if you can rent it at your local, clinging-to-its-last-shreds-of-profitability Mom n’ Pop video store. You can probably check it out on TV Land, too. In the end, you probably don’t have any burning desire to watch it at all, and hey, that’s fine. Be a dick. See where it gets you. I myself had never seen a single episode of this delightful program, and I find the mild hijinx and relatively carefree 50’s-era suburban backdrop to be endlessly relaxing and even, fairly reliably, laugh-out-loud funny. Jerry Mathers as the Beaver is precocious and amusing without becoming cloying, at least not so far (just finished all 39 episodes of the first season), and I find that I’m now a bonafide Tony Dow fan. The kid was funny. He created a great character in Wally – a deceptively lunkheaded and overall pretty awesome older sibling – blending obliviousness, irritation, bemusement, and deadpan in a manner that I don’t think has ever been fully appreciated. In one episode, the boys are unwisely entrusted with the task of catsitting for a pampered and evidently valuable feline belonging to a neighbor. When their dad expresses doubts as to whether or not the boys are up to the task, Wally nasally intones, “Gee, dad, you’re always saying I’m old enough to take care of The Beaver. It shouldn’t matter just because the cat is worth something.”
I also really like this guy. This handsome gent is Hugh Beaumont, who plays Ward Cleaver. Ward is one of the handful of names I like for our upcoming son. The name thing, by the way, isn’t going so hot. I think we’re going to just have to wait to see what he looks like. The ultrasounds don’t suggest names. They suggest melting, is what they suggest. Anyway, Hugh Beaumont is my new fatherhood model. He strikes a nice balance between firmness and understanding, confidence and befuddlement. In one of my favorite episodes, “The Bank Account”, Ward encourages the boys to start up a savings account, something they initially approach with the lack of enthusiasm one would expect kids their age to express when it comes to the notion of organized frugality. After saving for some time, the boys both deplete their accounts all at once, and when Ward finds a large package delivered to their house in the boys’ name, he confronts them about wasting their money and launches into the expected lecture, only to open the package and discover that they have pooled their savings together to buy him a new hunting jacket as a present, and his reaction…well, the room got dusty there for a second. This mistiness happens with a disheartening regularity whenever I watch “Leave It to Beaver”, or really anything involving tenderness or tragic misunderstandings, two concepts that “Leave It to Beaver”, incidentally, is positively rife with, so, in short, waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
And here’s Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver:
I can’t think of a blessed thing to say about her, but after typing all that crap about women being important before, I figured I should at least mention her. She was the voice of Nanny on “Muppet Babies”. Did you know that?
The less said about Eddie Haskell, the better. He’d look mighty handsome in a Colombian necktie, let’s just say that. My wife can barely stay in the room when he’s involved with an episode (this may make the viewing of later seasons difficult, from what I understand). I’m not even going to post a picture of him. I suppose he’s necessary to prevent the serene, now-nostalgic contentment from becoming overwhelming, but then I’m not one of those types who tends to easily OD on serene, now-nostalgic contentment. I could do without him.
Beaver and the gang aside, I hope we can pull it together and create an idyllic childhood for our son to have a good time in. The fact that we’ll be called upon to accomplish that very task becomes realer by the hour. Well, I better go. That crib isn’t going to assemble itself. Which is really too bad. I kept telling Annie’s mom to buy the sentient crib, but noooooo. Nobody listens to the father.