(Note: We’ll find out the baby’s sex this week.)
Frankie, an evil-kitten firecracker friend of ours, demanded of me, “Well, what do you want?”
It being quarter to five in the morning of the first day of the new year, I was a little slow, if honest: “I want a happy and healthy baby.”
“No, dumbass, do you want a boy or a girl?”
“Oh. I honestly don’t care.”
“You’re so full of shit.”
What I told Frankie was this, and it wasn’t avoiding the question but superseding it: we think it will be a girl. Kelly because of her innate mystical female ways of knowing, me because the first time I saw the baby in a sonogram, floating there, a little white amorphous lump, the thought came to me as cool and calm as the breeze: it’s a girl; which of course is an indication of my own fey antennae. And I loved her instantly.
So we think it’s a girl.
But the problem is this: if it is a girl, Kelly will pass on great genes: the little princess will be sweet, sharp, smart, and drop-dead gorgeous.
But from me? Nose hair.
And not only sprouting out of the nostrils, but emerging from the very skin of the nose-point itself. Her toes, right out of the womb, will be gnarled, lizard-like talonappendages tufted with coarse black hair. Her legs may be long and slender, true, but where thigh meets calf (what they call “the knee”) will be an ungainly protuberance of bulbs and points redolent of a baby giraffe (though if she takes after her uncle she’ll have massive and monolithic Ozymandias knees, equally as inappropriate). I’ll do my best to assuage her insecurities by quoting Francis Bacon: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion,” but unfortunately Bacon didn’t have much to say about fungus. Because fungus will find her irresistible—in the temperate zones she’ll be a resigned host to athlete’s foot, in the tropics a full-fledged master of ceremonies of rash-like skin fungus and orange globule armpit fungus. (Though it must be said that even this generally unfortunate and occasionally downright repulsive trait was once everlastingly redeemed: in Thailand, in a freshwater pool in a sunken limestone cave not two–hundred yards from the white-sand beach, a whole school of small silvery fish came to feed on my body, darting in to suck softly at my skin, with a small universe of them shoaling at my fruiting-bodied fungused armpits—amazing, amazing, amazing). From those armpits, even when not fungus-ridden, will emerge a strong, not altogether unpleasant, but not necessarily easy to mask musk. Hell, male pattern baldness runs strong enough in my blood that it might cross the gender lines, poor girl. She’ll be bald but still have to shave her neckbeard. Not to mention the impressive though not wholly efficient digestive system, the whisky-drinking capabilities of a sodden Irishman, the attention-span of a small bird in springtime.
God, she’ll be a freaky little girl.
Daddy’s little girl.