It’s official. I’ve caught The Baby. I don’t know how or where I got it, but I’m now 99 percent sure I have it.
I’m told it could be airborne, so the infectious possibilities are virtually limitless. It’s just like that movie Outbreak. I told my health professional and he just shook his head and said, ‘Yep, it’s been going around this season.’
Symptoms may vary, but you should seek immediate medical attention should you notice any of the following symptoms:
1. Ogling babies on the train, bus, in restaurants, malls, or anywhere else in public.
2. Increased desire to hold any child made readily available to you.
3. Finding all babies “cute” when logic dictates this is simply not possible.
4. Compulsive desire to talk to any stranger with a child and compare notes.
5. Pavlovian behavior of smiling (sometimes nodding) at parents.
These symptoms really aren’t so horrible, though sometimes number five can make for awkward social scenes. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides, and can now report without bias.
About a month ago, I got a night off, alone, to myself, to go out. My wife had Bub, they were dug in to our little foxhole we call home. I was like a scouting/recon unit, sent out to gather intel from the unknown surroundings of our neighborhood. So there I was, walking up our street, still relishing this vaguely familiar feeling of being out, no stroller, no baby carrier, no baby in fact. No audible crying, no burp rags, no impending responsibilities. Weird.
Anyway, a couple came walking up the street with a stroller. Obviously a small stroller, a young sprout in there, must be their first. They must be so happy, so proud, so tired. I was happy for them, out showing their little bean the great big world in the long shadows of the evening. My favorite time of day, in fact. I remember our first walk, out with the Bubster. How lucky they are to have a summer baby. Anyway, I was pretty much in my own little world by the time our paths crossed. I hardly noticed the slight looks of discomfort they shot me; I was too busy grinning from ear to ear. What’s weird about that?
Well … yesterday, Bub and I were out with the stroller, doing our thing. This guy walks up the street toward us, and I can see from a few meters away that he is smiling. I mean, really smiling. Like clownpants smiling. To the point that I just assumed he’d either had reconstructive Joker surgery or recreational drug use was a stalwart in his morning regimen. What else is there to grin like that about at 9:00 on a Monday? I mean, science has shown that your average American does not crack first smile on any given Monday until approximately 5:37 p.m. So I was suspicious. Stranger danger being what it is and all. I kept a quick hand on my Pepper Spray, as he smiled right on past us up the street. Yeah, keep smiling, Smiley.
Later that day, I saw the guy again, a regular hood rat. Walking up the street, with his wife, pushing a stroller. Oh, how about that? Creepy Daddy. I know, tables turned, yolk on me, etc. And now that I really think back, the man from the couple I encountered last month did seem to be brandishing his parasol in an unusually menacing fashion as I approached. Now I completely understand. I, also, was the Creepy Daddy.
There is no known cure for The Baby, but you can certainly learn to live with it. And taking the Creepy out of Daddy is really just as simple as this: BYOB. With him, you’re normal, you’re a bona fide parent, congratulations, you can jump right into number four! Without him, though, you’re just an over-smiley piece of stranger. Watch out for that parasol.