Thursday, May 29, 2008

Baby Bored

Babies are like drugs. If you bring them to a party they get passed around and everyone starts acting stupid. I witnessed the stupefying powers of babies in person over this Memorial Day weekend. I found myself smack dab in the middle in the eye of the perfect baby storm.

Over the past year both of my brothers proved their virility by impregnating women. So, my family has grown by two bald, small, inarticulate people: My nieces, Abigail and Leora. My family – my parents in particular – has been driven quite mad with the baby craziness. The symptoms of said disease include the sudden expenditure on an obscene amount of baby clothes simply because it is deemed adorable, the gradual loss of language skills until words such as baba and binky become acceptable terms, and a compulsive need to photograph everything. My parents have come down with all of these symptoms and more, but this past Sunday was the worse.

My younger brother and his wife came up from Virginia with their 2 month-old, Leora. Once in Pennsylvania, Leora joined forces with her 6-month-old cousin Abigail to form a two-headed monster with such incredible powers of adorability my entire family was rendered into a soft, jelly-like mass of gibberish spouting baby love. This Memorial Day we paid tribute to babies, and how cute they are, especially if you have two of them who can be put into the same crib while five cameras record every movement.

It was sickening really. Everything was baby centered. From the moment I walked into my parents’ house, I was overcome by all things baby. They were forced into my arms. There was much pointing and googly talk. Everyone pretty much sat around passing babies while talking about babies: what they eat – formula – what they do – almost roll over – and what they might start to actually do – roll over. Almost immediately it was decided a trip to the local playground was in order. My father happily rolled out his shiny new radio flyer red wagon for the trip. Now, if you are like me, you probably remember the radio flyer as a simple contraption with a metal bed, some wheels, and a handle. Well, this was a whole new beast, an upgraded model. It was made of plastic and was fitted with two fold down baby seats, seat belts, and cup holders. My father did hold off on buying the optional sun canopy. Although after being out on this sunny day, I think he may be considering a step up.

Now, here’s the real annoying thing about having babies around. No one was paying any attention to me, and I was on fire at the playground. I was swinging real high. I mean really super high. I even jumped off the swing. I was climbing the jungle gym. I was racing down slides. I made it all the way across the hanging rings without touching the ground. Wherever applicable I worked in the daring maneuver of going ‘no hands’. But no one would even look at me. Even though I exhorted them to. Even my mother barely noticed me. I even said “Look Mom, no hands!” She didn’t even tell me to be careful. What kind of bullshit is that? Baby bullshit, that’s what kind.

After a dinner centered on baby conversation, we settled in for the most obnoxious part of the day: home movies. My older brother bought himself a fancy new camcorder, and I guess every spare moment has been spent training the camera on his daughter, Abigail. Here she is looking at the cat. Adorable. Here she is taking a bath. Adorable. Here she is watching television for fifteen straight minutes. Un-effing-believably adorable. Here’s the thing about home movies. A lifetime of watching ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ has conditioned me to expect something hilarious to happen within five seconds of any home movie. When nothing hilarious happened and the videos kept going and going and going, I became uncomfortable. I began to suspect my brother was playing some sort of Andy Kaufman-esque experiment in humor. He was subverting our expectations of home video humor by removing the normal slapstick payoff. Slowly I realized home videos are just boring. No matter how long I waited for my brother to get hit in the junk, it was not going to happen.

Thankfully, the home movies were the apex of baby worship. All that was left was more baby passing mixed with some ‘fussiness’. The fussiness was on my part. I was bored and ready to go home. Eventually, I got my wish. Released from this crazy house of mass baby hysteria, I was able to go back to my own grubby little apartment to shake the baby out of my soul. I was free to do what I normally do: strip down to my boxers and check my email. Adorable.