Stay-at-Home Nerd: Did I do that? [An Affair of the Stomach]
Raising an infant changes your life in many ways. Here are three I didn’t expect.
Running Away From Home: I have no idea how many children imagine running away from home. I just know I did. Sometimes it was because of my father, whom I loathed. Other times it was because I found a picture of a place in a magazine or a newspaper article that seemed too good to be true. This was before the internet and I couldn’t just google cool places to runaway to. Finding out about a place was almost as exciting as going there. White sand beaches, black sand beaches, crystal blue water, 100 foot waterfalls, 1000 foot waterfalls, castles, lush landscapes, Eiffel Tower, Sears Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Roman Ruins, Greek Islands, Bull Fighting, Lions, Great Walls, Barrier reefs and more all existed outside of my reach as a ten-year-old in the tiny (one square mile) fishing hamlet (not really) of Shorewood, Wisconsin. Of course, I got older. By seventeen I had driven as far west as Steamboat Springs, Colorado and as far east as Boston, Massachusetts. By nineteen I had ridden the rails coast to coast. By twenty I had been to France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. At twenty-one I added Mexico to the list and shortly thereafter a couple trips to Costa Rica rounded out my young adult passport.
It’s not really running away, however, if you don’t leave something or someone behind. As a child I would have left behind my father (part of the point), but also my mother and my sister and my friends. That was too steep of a price. Now that I’m a father I find myself dreaming of running away again. It’s not because I don’t love my son. I do. It’s not because I can’t handle the responsibility. I can. It’s not because I want to be free of obligations. Actually, it is because of that. Don’t get me wrong; I’m aware that these feelings contradict each other. I’m also aware that my wife reads this column so I’d like to assure her and all of you that I’m not going to run away. But, I do look back and envy the weightlessness of my youth. And in times of child induced stress it’s easy to imagine myself running away to white sand beaches, black sand beaches, crystal blue water…
Butt Sniffing: It’s a time-honored tradition among dogs to sniff each other’s butts. Apparently this tells dogs all they need to know about each other. I could get into the science, “Due to two anal glands in their rectum (giggle) the aroma from a dog’s butt tells other dogs vital information like…” but I won’t. Suffice it to say it is an important activity for dogs. It’s also an important and necessary activity for adults with young children. The first time I became aware of this I was driving past a park with my then pregnant wife. I spotted a man slightly older than myself playing with his toddler son. As they chased each other around they both smiled and laughed. Since I knew I was having a son I lingered at a stop sign admiring this father-son moment. I lingered long enough to see the dad’s smile turn to pursed lips and a wrinkled nose. He grabbed a hold of his son and lifted him to his face. Then he took a big sniff of his boy’s derriere. The father smiled and put his boy down. They went back to their game. I laughed, not really knowing why. It just seemed funny. As I drove off I wondered why he would smell his son’s butt. It didn’t take long to realize that he was a part of another time-honored tradition: the poop check. I don’t want to spoil anybody’s dreams of what parenthood is like, but I will tell you that boys, even baby ones, fart and poop. As many diapers as you will change in a day, you don’t want to change one for a fart. Hence, the butt sniffing. The sooner you can determine what’s going on down there, the better off you will be.
The Affair or How One Trip to Buffalo Wild Wings can Change Your Life: Sex is a big deal. It’s where babies come from. It’s also incredibly fun, especially with other people. I spent most of my twenties trying to get good at it and all of my thirties with one woman, my wife. I’m not going to get pulled into the “How can you only sleep with one woman for the rest of your life?” argument because it’s a silly little argument from silly little boys. The truth is I have no idea what’s going to happen the rest of my sexual life. Much like when I was in high school and had no idea when or how I would lose my virginity (17 on a twin bed in my room) or if those things I saw only in magazines (again no internet) were even possible (they are), I can only hazard a guess. I harbor great hope, though; that I’m fortunate enough to remain married to my wife. I also hold out hope that we will one day do that naughty thing, but that’s another story.
This story is about the affair. It wasn’t that long ago, in fact it was during the World Cup, that I took my son on one of our long daily walks. He was about 7 months old and I was hungry and tired. Fortunately there are many places to eat within walking distance of my house. I settled on Buffalo Wild Wings for a few reasons. It’s loud. They would have a soccer match on. Most importantly, though, it was boneless Thursday meaning they had 60-cent boneless wings. I don’t make it a habit of going to sports bars for lunch with my infant son, but this seemed a good a time as any to make an exception.
We were quickly seated and our waitress came right over. She was a petite woman in her mid-twenties with tanned skin, engaging eyes, long dark hair and somehow she managed to make the unflattering BWW uniform look good. She immediately took to my son and he immediately took to her. His smile and the way his face lights up has an effect on people that makes me think he’ll one day be in congress. The more attention he gave her, the more attention she gave him and eventually the more attention she gave me. She brought my son a balloon play with. She brought me my wings and diet cola. She stayed longer than she was needed to the dismay of a few tables around us. She told me about her recent break-up, how much she missed her three-year-old niece and how she wanted to have kids one day, but didn’t know when or with whom. She brought me more wings and soda.
In hindsight this seemed an awful lot like flirting. There was laughing. There was talking. There was eye contact. There was ignoring others. There was almost too much attention. I remember thinking at the time that this was perfect. Here I was enjoying wings with a beautiful woman who was not my wife. I had produced (with my wife’s help!) this beautiful offspring that helped garner me this moment in the sun. I finished my food and drink. I paid my bill and left a nice tip. We said goodbye and I honestly believe she was sad to see us go. We were the bright spot of her workday and it would be all downhill for her from here.
It was uphill to my house. We were a couple of blocks in and I was basking in the glory of my lunch when I had an unpleasant thought. Not once during that lunch did I think about sex with that woman. I did briefly entertain the thought of her babysitting my kid at home while I ate chicken wings and drank diet cola, but that’s not the same as sex. What would my wife think if she came home to find me not having sex with a woman she didn’t know? I’d be passed out on the couch, a mountain of devoured wings piled high on a plate, diet cola running down my face. “Where’s the baby?” she would ask. “He’s with what’s her name,” I would reply after burping. “Who?” “I don’t really know her name. She works at Buffalo Wild Wings and she really likes our baby.” I’d be too full to get off the couch. My wife would politely escort the stranger from our premises. My son would most likely cry. That’s as far as my mind got before I laughed off the ridiculous-ness of my affair fantasy. What can I say? I’m a happily married man. I popped the balloon (it is after all a choking hazard) and marched the rest of the way home smiling to myself.
Today’s weight: 302 lbs. (work to do)