Happy Fathers’ Day! Yes, yes, I know, Minky’s a week late… or later… can we focus here people? I got The Prince a fancy waffle maker, underwritten by my father, Lenny the Red, who we did not get to see till the next day. And while the waffle maker was itself a success, the homemade pumpkin waffle batter was less impressive; gluey, and not terribly pumpkinny; not that I let this stop me from eating the leftovers for Second Breakfast this morning.
The Prince was also supposed to sleep in as part of his present; sleep in! Ha ha hahahahahahah, oh, that's rich! Sleep in! What a knee-slapper! These days, The Prince takes M on compulsory (compelled as they are, or perhaps jettisoned, by Minky,) jaunts to the playground at SIX A.M., lest he spend the early morning watching upwards of 2 hours of television while The Prince dozes face down in the dog hair, M thus becoming so hysterically overstimulated and underexcercised that by 7 he's givin' me whiplash, how he's running up and down the 3 rooms of this apartment SCREAMING HIS GODDAMN HEAD OFF and bringing Minky dangerously close to … becoming really dangerous.
Suffice it to say, The Prince did not sleep in, though he was granted a reprieve nap later in the day. And then we were on to a birthday bar-b-que at cousins out on the Island, where The Prince skulked with yard-envy and M raided the battlefield of lawn toys belonging to the not-home people next door.
I carried Little H around, which I almost never get to do, what with M in his ever-increasingly gorilla-like condition of boyness, climbing up and down my “Big Mommy!” body and swinging from my tireless boobs, the poor dears. That Little H is delicious. Her smell is like pretzels, calamine, and brown sugar, her sturdy, rubbery skin fairly springs back at you when kissed, her smile is so joyfully gooney that all her prettiness of great blue eye and Kewpie mouth just falters in her hilarity on seeing your obviously preposterous face. And she happens to think Minky is the kitty cat’s PJ’s, thank you very much!
And because I am a shameless glutton (if I said I was ashamed I was lying) of every kind, all I could think about as I toted on my sweaty hip her insistent denseness of flesh hither and thither across the lawn, was that I want
I’m not going to make another one, I just want another one, and I’m always going to want one, because babies are the CENTER of the universe.
Lenny The Red would disagree. “Men don’t know that,” he said. “Men don’t really know. Only women know. Because they know in their bodies in a way that men can’t, and I really believe that.”
He’s a believer, all right, mostly in his own time-tested theory that people are no goddamn good and that he himself has got no mazel. My sister’s myriad psycho-medical conditions of the past 50 years are at the forefront of his bitterness, to be sure, followed closely by all the people who abandoned her. His mother suffered. His father disappointed him. The loss of my mother haunts him every day. And I didn’t turn out as all I was cracked up to be, either.
My babies, however, seem to assuage all that; my beamish, blonde-beaned offspring, a pair of two-fisted nursers as ever have boobed. Lenny the Red won’t come right out and say that my lusciouses represent the hope of humanity, but you can see it in his misty eyes as he watches M’s every move, the grandpa lurching in a panicked sweat this way and that to keep the kid from taking off out the playground and into traffic; you can see it as he holds Little H on his lap with growing confidence as she packs on the pounds week after week, gripping under her plump pits and raising her up and down evaluatively like she’s a roast, frowning in affirmation and saying, “Strong. Strong baby.”
He loves them, deeply, loves the promise of their bodies, the lineage of their DNA, he loves them instead of himself. He doesn’t need to see them a lot, he doesn’t need to know them all that well. They’re me, and I’m him, and as weird as it is that they’re blonde, he claims them.
My old dad; Lenny The Red; for M, he’s “Papa! Big Papa!” For Little H, “Yeee! Uuuuuurlp!” and all four limbs jerking semaphorically on sight of him. For the bewildered Prince, he’s "my father-in-law." For myself, I couldn’t do without the man.
On the Monday after Fathers’ Day, Papa The Red took us to the beach. The Prince was at work, otherwise he’d have taken some of the load off the old guy; but as it was, Little H was unsatisfied to remain in her tent, demanding instead to be shaded only in Minky’s lap, and not for love or money could I make that fuckin’ umbrella stay put anyway. So it fell to Papa the Red to run after M, continuously, up and down the beach, for almost 3 hours.
No mean feat. Because M spontaneously turns into a racecar now, a scientifically documented phenomenon that other boy-owners warned me about but I did not believe until it began to happen in my own home. One moment I’ve got a hairless chimpanzee lolling in my lap and babbling about boobies, when suddenly without warning he’s a racecar, upon which metamorphosis he must tear off his clothes and run naked through the apartment, or down the beach, for that matter, screaming, “I very fast race car! Very very very fast! Very big! Racecar very loud! Rrrrrrrmmmmmmmm!”
And there was Papa in his yellow bathing trunks, flapping after him, tirelessly, until the two of them were utterly exhausted. I piled the whole gang and that damn umbrella, the wet towels, the sandy blanket, the bucket of beach toys, and even the half-eaten sun-soured sandwiches back into the station wagon, and we headed home, all of them asleep before we got out of the parking lot. I didn’t begrudge them the nap even as I hauled us the hour plus home slurping very bad ice coffee from a MacDonald’s drive-thru; they had all worked hard making mommy-work for grateful Minky. And besides, there’s no knowing how many more of these Papa’s got in him.
Father’s Day; not so much for the dads, maybe it’s for the babies, but it feels like it’s for me.