Monday, October 06, 2008

Belly Full of Fire

There is perhaps no other time in a man's life that he is so plainly shown what a cakeride it is to have a Y chromasome than when he is expecting a child.

Oh sure, payday is a good time to be a man, so's when you have to use the bathroom in a nightclub, or if you'd like to be a Member of Parliament. But skipping out on the rigours of pregancy, well, it kinda makes me want to belch a sigh of manly relief. We get to be a part of Life's Greatest MiracleTM without gaining 30 lbs, suffering wild mood swings, peeing every twenty minutes or losing our taste for green beans (though I suspect Nicole never really liked my green beans and is just using pregnancy as an excuse to put the kibosh on them without hurting my feelings). We're never kicked in the bladder from within, never have to take a break to catch our breath going up the front stairs. All we have to do is raise our game a little bit, be a little quicker to offer foot rubs, pick up a few more household chores, eat two servings of green beans, whatever. Oh yeah, and not brag or complain about how we're a larger portion of the daily things that make life go by--especially when we're doing a terrible job at keeping up with the larger projects like clearing out the clutter (ie, 25 yrs of comics) from the eventual baby room.

Where you run into trouble, though, as an expectant father, is when you're out in public alone. When you're out with your baby mama, at least, people know. Things are going on in your life and you're afforded certain niceties. You can smile at young children with impunity. You can marvel at the souped up Peg Perego travel system and no one bats an eye. Other couples out and about with infants make eye contact and transmit warnings of fatigue--joyous fatigue, but fatigue, don't kid yourself, man. And a pregnant woman alone...forget about it. Nicole has regaled me with stories of walking home (a whole four blocks) with two bags of groceries. Everyone who passed her by looked on with concern and pity. If I'm walking down the street weighed down by cans of refried beans and split pea soup, I better not show any strain or I'll get shanked passing by the D&D store.

It's a sunny afternoon in early September and I'm sitting in the park, alone, reading Dan Fesperman's first novel and drinking a pretty lousy Americano, because Beans is closed on Monday. Despite the sun, I've got a Sarajevo funk on from spending all day with Lie In The Dark. I'm identifying more with Vlado Petric this time around (he's also the lead in Fesperman's second novel, Small Boat of Great Sorrows), because I'm starting to see myself as a father. Like Vlado, I've been separated from my wife and child. He, because they've fled Sarajevo for an indifferent Berlin; me, because I work the nightshift and miss too much time with my growing family. Okay, so it's not really the the same. Not even close. But, y'know, on a metaphoric level... And there's the whole business of how the parts of my family that are not are still contained within a single unit, like a Vancouver Special.

So there's me, Vlado, and hell, why not Rebus? Sitting alone in the park with our inadequate coffee, spending a rare nice day with a book full of gray. Quietly, shamefully, more at home in our morose solitude, in our weird otherness. In my fifth-dimensional imagination, writing is the same as sleuthing, and so my brow is always furrowed with the waves of mystery.

But now it's October, and I'm not on the nightshift anymore. Now the days are gray and wet, though my nights are clear. It's a tradeoff, but it's worth it. Now I'm home when it matters to be home, when home is home and not a bunch of rooms full of books and comics that I can't figure out what to do with.

And I've got next week off, which means I'll be out of the country when the election results come in. With any luck, I'll be somewhere without access to the election results. I'll be in some cabin by the ocean, reading by the shine of a lighthouse.

But first, I'll be in Seattle, watching Giant Sand (and Chad Van Gaalen) with my wife and fetus. I think I've already mentioned how my life is nearly perfect.

mp3: "Belly Full of Fire" by Giant Sand
mp3: "Well Enough Alone" by Giant Sand

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