I don't know nothin' about birthin' babies Miss Scarlett

   Tomorrow is the day my wife is supposed to give birth, so there are a few things I figure I better get in writing.

    Mainly, I want to promise each and every one of you that I will not act like this is the first time human reproduction has ever been accomplished. I go where, give or take a few, about 7 billion people have gone before.

    A lot of people have been telling me how great this is going to be, and in the long term, Iím sure theyíre right. Itís the short-term Iím worried about. One of the worst developments of the last twenty years or so has been the re-defining of the fatherís role in childbirth.

    They had it right in the Fifties. You go to the hospital, kiss your wife goodbye and then spend the next several hours smoking cigarettes and pacing the hall. When the process is finished, the Mrs. has her hair combed and makeup on and the baby is all clean and swaddled. You shake a few hands, give out a few cigars and go home a nice happy family.

    Daddy cutting the cord? Iíd just as soon perform my own appendectomy. Iím definitely staying "north of the Equator" for this thing, if you know what I mean.

    I still have the heeby-jeebies from Lamaze class. Maybe it was okay in the beginning. I suppose there is some value in learning what a cervix is. But then they showed THE MOVIE. Yeah, you guys who have been there know what Iím talking about. Gawd!

    It was one thing when the Lamaze instructor held up her little model of the pelvis and showed how the baby emerges. Itís a whole other thing live from the "crotch-cam." Wailing and weeping and groaning and crying Ė and thatís just the men watching.

    These are very graphic movies. Very graphic. That only part thatís not included is a video from the conception. And believe me, itís not like these women are Julia Roberts or anything.

    At Lamaze class, the men are referred to as "coaches." Somehow the term doesnít have the same cache as when itís applied to Vince Lombardi or Knute Rockne. Honey, play like a champion today. I wish.

    Thereís a lot of discussion in these classes about natural childbirth and what sort of medications are available to women to help them with the pain. I donít have an opinion on what Liz should do Ė thatís her choice. But I want a delivery room with two hospital beds and a steady delivery of morphine for me.

    Not that life has been any picnic around here lately. I had to look at about 400 cribs, before we could buy . . . . the first one we looked at.

    I canít call any of my family members on the telephone, because as soon as they hear my voice they think itís "the call." When they find out it isnít, they really donít want to talk to me.

    And Iíve moved more furniture than Mayflower. Not that youíd notice if you came to my house, since EVERYTHING IS BACK WHERE IT WAS IN THE FIRST PLACE. They tell me itís a "nesting" thing. Iíd tangle with a hundred hornetís nests before Iíd mess with the one my wife wants.

    Iím too terrified to even think about post-partum.

    But rest assured, I will not be sending out pictures of this newborn in our holiday cards after expanding the mailing list to everyone in the phone book. I know that I may feel differently in a few days, but Iím going to try my best to remember that I think the lamp I made in seventh grade shop class is also a work of outstanding craftsmanship. But I donít think you would.

    I donít want to get into racial stereotypes here, but white babies arenít attractive. Black ones are cute, and Asian ones usually are. I fully expect this kid to come out looking like a poster child for poster children.

    You want a picture? Give me a year or two after the kid has hair on his head and I can dress the little goober up like a cowboy. We can all pose in front of the red wagon. Provided of course, that I get to wear my six-guns as well.

    In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to be John Wayne in a place you can bet John Wayne never had to go.

    They say the best thing about having children is the opportunity to re-live your own childhood through their eyes. I hope so. Could you tell me that part about the stork again?


December 6, 2000