Aileen Gallagher Up in the Guff Spot
[Editor’s Note: This installment of Guff is brought to you by the lovely and talented former Black Table editor, Aileen Gallagher.]
It only takes a sentence to get out of babysitting for life.
Two acquaintances of mine are recent fathers. One joined the club about a month ago and another a few years ago. Both of these men are writers and I see them around at parties and readings and bars.
It was after a reading that I repelled them. I’ll allow for the fact that I’d been drinking for a while and otherwise might have kept this observation to myself. But I was right, as you’ll see.
Dan is the newer dad and maintains the glossy sheen of paternal shock and awe at what he and his lovely wife have created. Jason’s more of a veteran, but he’s glad he’s got another dad to talk to about whatever dads of young children talk about that the childless find both tedious and terrifying.
Please note for the record that Dan and his wife are two of the kindest people I’ve ever met. They are welcoming to all, active, interested listeners, and enthusiastic supporters. Their kid is so lucky to have been born to those parents. And Dan is so great that I actually want to see pictures of his kid and regularly read the baby’s blog. (Warning to all children born right now: Your dorky parents will blog about you.)
And another note for the record. I am not callous towards children. I have a delightful niece and nephew who make me laugh every time they tell me the same Fozzie Bear Joke Book fodder that threw me into repetitive hysterics when I was four.
And I also find child molesters to be heinous criminals who should be put somewhere awful until they are dead. I know at least one. (Unanticipated IM conversation with a high school friend: “Hey, Aileen—you remember that kid Chris Calabro?” “Yeah, the one who made all those videos.” “Well, he makes different videos now.” And there’s a link to the Chris Calabro entry on the Pennsylvania sex offenders’ registry for “interstate transportation and shipment of child pornography.” In his photo he’s balding and mean, a 30-year-old guy who grew up to be a total chi-mo.)
Parents can and should work hard to keep their children safe and unknowing for a while. You have your whole life to figure out that people can be assholes and you might one day collect unemployment. Twice.
But all that aside, and skipping over the fact that I don’t think smacking your kid will scar them for life but will instead teach them not to walk among traffic, I am not a danger to children. So it is with some embarrassment that I acknowledge that after last week, Dan and Jason will never let me within several court-approved feet of their children.
They were standing next to each other outside the bar, everyone lingering for another minute before making their way home. Someone asked Dan about his son’s bris, and Dan said it went fine but he couldn’t watch. I opened my mouth and with only a dozen words said something that rendered foul disgust on the faces of the two dads, muted confusion from the Rolling Stone intern who just showed up from Oklahoma, and a brisk “We’ve gotta go” from my friend and his fiancée. No one said anything. They just disassociated themselves from me as soon as uncomfortably possible.
“You know,” I had said, apropos of nothing because no one was talking to me. “You know, there’s nothing more hilarious than a baby with an erection.”
And I stand by that.