Sunday, September 27, 2009

Land of the Lost Sanity

With nowhere left to look, I started rummaging through my son’s things in the nursery.

“Do you really think you left the good headphones in his dresser drawer?” my wife Kara asked as I turned to face her, elbow-deep in a formerly neat stack of jumpsuits.

“There’s nowhere left in the world to look,” I replied. I’d already checked the trunk of the Civic three times. The refrigerator. Under the couch. I’d searched every nook and cranny of the house, and I didn’t even think our house had any crannies.

One would have expected the search to go fairly quickly. With a baby in the house, Kara and I have pretty much been staying put. I’ve only been like three places in the last year. But somehow, the only pair of headphones in the house with the advanced feature of functioning in both the left and the right ear had managed to evade capture since the last time I’d mowed half the lawn.

Stringing together forty-five minutes to mow the whole lawn in one shot has become nearly impossible. As the days grow shorter and the baby grows longer, the mower will often sit for days in the middle of the yard like a rusted-out Trans Am, right at the border between the cut grass and the grass in which one could easily lose a golden retriever.

The thought of mowing the lawn iPodless was almost too much to bear. You might think that a new father would appreciate the time to be left alone with his thoughts, but when I’m mowing the lawn, the sum total of my cognitive achievements is usually singing “Barbara Ann” in my head for the better part of an hour, and I only know the part that goes, “Bah bah bah, bah Barbara Ann. (Barbara Aaah-aaah-aaaan).”

“Hey, careful. You’re getting his clothes all wrinkly!” Kara said.

“He’s three months old! He doesn’t have any job interviews coming up,” I replied.

It’s tough not to get snippy when things are lost that shouldn’t be. I recalled putting the headphones somewhere I’d remember, so I was angered on the very principal that my own brain had fooled me. To make matters worse, Kara had recently decided that we weren’t allowed to swear around the baby anymore, which, while a wise policy, made it very difficult for me to properly celebrate Swear Like a Pirate Day, a holiday I very much felt like inventing right then.

You have to start behaving like a parent at some point, though, so it’s just as well that we can’t swear anymore. The thing is, once you have an infant in the house, there’s so much more to cuss about. Unless you live in a fraternity house, there’s a good chance that, as long as you don’t have a child around, nobody is going to projectile vomit on you today. Parents don’t have that sort of assurance.

Speaking of which, I’ve heard the term “projectile vomit” many times before, but it’s a term that is very difficult to fully appreciate until someone does it on you.

The first time it happened, I was unable to speak for the first few seconds, experiencing the kind of mild shock you get after jumping into cold water, except that I was actually swimming in Kara’s breast milk. It looked like I’d been trying to defuse a cow when it exploded in my face.

Our son Evan was equally drenched, though he actually seemed to be enjoying himself. As I held him up by his armpits, he looked at me as if to say, “Dude, it’s the weirdest thing. I’m hungry again.”

“Here, here, I’ll get you a towel out of the diaper bag,” Kara said, rummaging through the giant purse. “Oh, that’s right. I forgot I put your headphones in here.”

You can wash Mike Todd’s mouth out with soap at

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