Note: So I was going to write this whole gooey thing about the joy of touch, and soft baby skin and all that. That shall henceforth be known as Touch (Part II). Because this stuff just happened, and it’s on my mind…
Jack Nicholson said “Never rub another man’s rhubarb,” in Batman. Okay, while this is a slightly different context here, the meaning is the same. Don’t touch my kids unless A) I know you, B) My wife knows you or C) Someone directly related to either my wife or I knows you. Otherwise, keep your grubby little paws to yourself. Yes, I’m talking to you, Mr. Collared Shirt Semi-Scruffy 20-Something Guy Sitting in Seat 23A.
So we flew out to L.A. last week to visit my wife’s family. On the way back, we are nestled in the self-exile of the “screaming baby section” that comprises the back few rows. Maybe half-way through the flight, HP starts getting fidgety. It’s my turn, so I take her, stand up, walk up and down the aisles a couple times. When I come back and the guy sitting in front of me, we’ll call him 23A, comes back from the bathroom. I excuse myself past him, but he takes a liking to HP and reaches his hand over toward her. My Spidey Sense started pulsating.
At this point, I think I actually blacked out from rage for a few seconds because details are very sketchy. I can only relate to you that he did in fact touch HP somewhere in the head region. Maybe he rustled her hair, perhaps a cheek was pinched. All I know is I wanted to destroy him.
But this proved impractical (I was, after all, still holding a baby), and also logistically challenging. I was holding her in my right arm, so even my mightiest left haymaker would sure have been easily parried. So I ended up doing the old bob and weave routine.
I mean, who walks around touching babies?
I thought there was some sort of unwritten “look but don’t touch” rule with babies. I might have been wary of a grandmotherly type, but this kid just caught me off guard. Bizarre. And if it feels weird, it is weird.
And then there was the case of the Chinese grocer…
Back home, had the kids in the stroller, walked with my dad on a hunt for some elusive okonomi sauce. No dice at the Vietnamese market, so out of desperation, we stopped at the Chinese grocery up the street. And much to my double happiness, they actually had it.
As we were checking out, the owner came over and started talking to Bub. Bub watched him for a while, shy as usual. But the guy tried to give him a high five and Bub obliged. He then gave him a candy star sucker, just to officially break every stranger danger rule in the book.
And yet, I was totally okay with it. Maybe it’s because Bub is older. Maybe it’s because HE seemed okay with it. Maybe parents do in fact have a built-in radar for this kind of thing. I’d like to think so. I dig the whole superhero thing. Warding off evil, saving days and stuff. Not to mention I look really good in a pair of tights.