My friend Susan sent me a .jpg of her son at his first birthday party and I thought about posting it here and then thought better of it.
Susan likes her privacy.
I like being star of the show.
With my luck, one of my two readers would glue onto the kid and say things like "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" and "How cuuuuuuuuuute!" and "Kitchy koo" and "num num" and the next thing you know I'd be chasing Magazine Man's ass for "Dad of the year" blog which is NOT where I want to even think of going.
And a bunny.
We're not known for our parenting skills.
I'm the poster child for that. I may have said it before; somewhere in my head the wire marked "paternal instinct" is forever dangling free. Every once in a while, as I move around, the dangle causes the wire to make brief contact with another terminal and things really go haywire. Usually, it's the "drive faster" or "have a beer" or "make a snide comment at a corporate function" retaining screw and I invariably both get into trouble and dig up more material for my readers.
You. And you over there, hiding behind the .url.
But I digress, and how surprising is that?
There's a photo of me at my first birthday party that Susan's shot reminded me of. I compared the two, side by side. There are differences. Susan's photo was shot in 2006. The kid is in his toxin free, plastic ergonomically correct no sharp edges instill positive self worth absolutely won't tip in an elephant stampede high chair. I'm sitting on some chipped wooden thing coated in nitrocellulose lacquer with an asbestos stuffed seat cushion tacked down with hat pins. A fart will knock me over. In 2006 the cake is made from free range eggs raised organically with no growth hormone with gently sifted insecticide free flour, organic two percent milk in a convection oven. I'm being fed cake that is colored with pigments not normally found in nature. Whatever is going in my baby formula is later banned for human consumption but found in 1978 to be a dandy industrial abrasive. A toxin neutral heat pump is keeping today's kid warm. We're burning Christmas wrapping paper.
But that's not the point.
The point is I'm at the head of a table, gently being stuffed with cake by my mom. I'm the fat dollop wearing dinner. Surrounding the table are young girls. Literally. Young ladies who look between eight and twelve, all dolled up in their early sixties party best. Delicately holding forks, waiting for milk to be poured into teacups, looking expectantly at the fat dollop consuming most of the cake and spitting over the rest of it. They will defer to the plate of cookies also offered.
No, the point is perspective. When I was five or so and my mom showed me the picture, usually to the phrase of "you were so cute when you couldn't walk or talk and we could strap you down for a few hours..." my reaction was "Gee, that cake looks good." Food generally looked appealing in black and white. I mean, how else can you explain Graham Kerr? "Wish I could remember what that cake tasted like. Wish I could remember anything from that day. I know I got presents, where did I put them?"
When I was twelve and mom trotted the picture out again, this time to the tune of "six more years and I can legally bounce you out of here and then I'll frame this and refer to you as my son who was kidnapped by space aliens..." my reaction to the picture was: "Yeurghhh! Girls! Where did all those prissy girls come from and why did you invite them? Where are the guys? Where's the soda pop and football and dirty jokes. Those girls want to look all made up and perfect and not have any tolerance for fart and booger jokes and look down their nose at us. How could you do this to me, Mom? Glad I can't remember that party. I'd have hated it."
I didn't look at that picture in my twenties when I was dating for fear that my girlfriends would say something like what my sometime to be wife said which was "Cute kid. Who'd have thought, but I guess he was a lot like Frankenstein; it all started out so promising and went so horribly wrong."
She's right of course but we still divorced.
Now here I am again and mom has trotted the picture out saying "I think you actually had more hair then..." and my reaction to it is thus:
Look. For heaven's sake, I'm being fed and by the looks of me, appetite wasn't a problem. I'm being fawned over by my family and that ended right quick and moreover, there are six, count 'em six women I'm breaking bread and frosting with who want nothing more than to get close to the little dollop and go:
What a wasted youth! If anybody needs me, I'll be wedged into a high chair with a flammable paper hat on, drooling over a slab of red dye 14 cake with a candle in it.
Bunny on Annie, as they say, bunny on.