Friday, February 26, 2010

Summer 2010: Rise of Baby T2

Since discovering that the wife was pregs with Part Deuce, my focus (in the stereotypical spirit of an emotionless male preoccupied solely with solutions, not feelings) has concentrated almost exclusively on selling our condo and finding a house ... with a driveway ... and grass. So, the thought of Gigi's sequel has been extremely slow to absorb.

For weeks, I knew that we had an ultrasound appointment at 8 a.m. this morning. We were going to learn about our next baby's sex. Unfortunately, in the interim, I somehow scheduled a 10 a.m. work appointment immediately after. Minus ten points right there, dad.

Southie to Brookline is approximately 4 miles. No train goes between them directly, so driving is really the only option. Due to my work thing, the baby mama and I took separate cars. 40 minutes and 4 miles later, I miraculously found a meter spot.

"Usually, these ultrasound visits are no more than a half hour," I thought. It was 7:55 a.m.

Me: [Standing idly sans coffee in my system.]
Me: [Staring at the meter but not really reading.]
Me: [Squinting and staring without focus.]
Me: [Coming to and slapping 4 quarters for 60 minutes. Plenty of time.]

The wife and I met shortly therafter and arrive together at the waiting room. The most recent olympic SI issue beckoned to me as soon as we entered. She checked in - I dove in to the photos first and articles second.

Like any random group of professionals, doctors are mostly good and decent, some great, and a few who constitute the rotten apples that spoil it for the rest of the crew. I am, unfairly, prejudiced against doctors until they have proved themselves worthy of my trust. Admittedly, the bias is rooted in a jealousy that they were able to pass chemistry in college (my original major was "undecided" but leaning towards pre-med freshman year until encountering Chem II) but mostly because I detest waiting for anything and no medical office on the face of this earth sees any patient on time.

Miraculously, we only waited until 8:10 a.m. for our 8 a.m. appointment to begin. The assistant pulled a fresh sheet of paper over the examination bed and my baby mama - a seasoned pro - immediately recognized the drill. She hopped on, pulled down her pants to the hips, exposing the slight bump in her belly as her shirt moved up, while the assistant tucked more paper around for modesty's sake. The assistant left.

We sat alone together. It was quiet. We waited. Suddenly, the wife looked at me and smiled energetically. I widened my eyes lazily and raised my brows to reply without speaking.

"Aren't you so excited? We're finding out if there's a penis or a vagina!"

I was about to smile and chuckle when the doctor came in. Naturally, she acknowledged only the wife and pretended I'm not in the room. I was annoyed. I hate when they do that.

Granted, my ankles aren't swollen and I haven't puked without warning because I suddenly smelled my husband's hungover breath, but my DNA is in 50% of that creature swimming around in utero - and I drove 40 minutes to get here! I remembered how much doctors annoy me again.

They spoke here and there. My mind drifted to the 10 a.m. appointment. "Should I try the parking lot across from work or resident parking?," I thought. "Oh man, Huntington's going to be a freaking nightmare when I get out of here." The inner monologue continued similarly.

About 20 minutes later (the clock on the flatscreen for the ultrasound image said 8:35 a.m.) after the doctor has referred to our baby as a "she" at least twice, she asked if we want to know the sex.

"Yes!" we replied almost sheepishly, just like in the operating room the night G was born. The doctor replied, "You're having a ... boy." Her emphasis on the word "boy" was subtle and gentle. It wasn't the first time she delivered such news. The wife began to cry immediately and squeezed my hand.

Ever the cyborg, I asked "What is the plus/minus that you're wrong about the sex?" Probably not the greatest opening comment. Then, the wife piped in about hermaphrodite percentages and I think the doctor winced noticeably. Next, I asked if the baby's dong was unusually large. She said something about a third leg and genetics, while I nodded understandingly.

Okay, the plus/minus and hermaphrodite parts were true and the rest wasn't. But the moral of the story is I didn't talk for 20 minutes. When I spoke for the first time, the doctor got all annoyed at me. I stewed and thought again about my 10:00. The mean doctor threw me off my game.

The rest of our appointment is a blur. The wife and I kissed and high fived. I ran to the car. Phew, no ticket. I drove behind a Green Line E train for what seemed to be forever and arrived for my appointment barely at 9:55 a.m.

About ten minutes into the deposition and the important news finally began to penetrate my thick skull. We are having a boy. We are having a boy! Wow. It's hitting me now. WE ARE HAVING A BOY. Sweet.

Will Sanchez still be QB when he starts to watch the NFL? Will Jeter still be captain when he starts to watch MLB? Will we talk about women, sports, geography, or music? Will we compete and argue and laugh? Will he ever love me like I already love him?

Okay, it's hit me. We're having another baby - and it's a boy!

Thinking back, the doctor was annoyed she couldn't get a good view of T2 because he moved around so much. Nice work, bud. Let's pick this back up in July.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Please Phrase in the Form of a Question

We might as well just get my criticisms about Jeopardy out of the way first. Number one – spastic clickers. Some use their whole body. Others violently nod their head. Even worse – the clickers who sigh disappointingly when a competitor rang in before them. Total peeve for me. Number two – when Alex pronounces anything not in English. He may be speaking properly, but it’s annoying. Number three – when Alex speaks unnecessarily between Q&A selections and the round ends without completing the board. That’s just plain unacceptable.

Aside from the above, I’m a huge fan of Jeopardy. Growing up, my family and I would watch and yell out the question as soon as possible in the hopes of earning temporary big brain bragging rights. Like most Teravainens who invent any excuse to wager against each other, my dad would inevitably create a betting pool of one dollar for each of us playing in “Final Jeopardy.” “You got a buck?” he would ask, emphasizing “buck” to instigate a competition. It was on.

Nowadays, when I watch Jeopardy with the wife on DVR, she does so only on the condition that we listen to the awkward biographical anecdotes of each competitor when we’re back from the first commercial break. For whatever reason, she loves that part. I cringe whenever I hear those awful stories without punchlines or any semblance of personality. I can’t complain, though, as long as Alex and Johnny make the cut into our DVR lineup.

Of all my interests, I pray that G shares at least just a fraction of my competitive drive. Mind you, I gave up a long time ago about competing for anything materialistic. If that’s something important to you, I already surrender. That’s not the kind of competition that interests me in the slightest. I prefer way more enjoyable contests: board games, card games, brain games, and sports.

In no particular order, the following are some of the best games ever played: cribbage, bocce, poker, Scrabble, skat, Frisbee golf, pitch, backgammon, or basically anything involving an Almanac, an atlas, or a map. There are few better sounds than that of a card deck shuffling surrounded by chairs pulling inwards and chips stacking in piles, or even just the arguments about rule interpretation between participants during a game.

I’m not sure where I developed this particular thirst for competition. Neither of my parents were anything at all like the Cobra Kai sensei or even Emilio Estevez’s apparently psychotic dad in “The Breakfast Club.” I think my folks were just way better than me at whatever we played, so I just wanted to be like them.

My mom could – and still can – blow the doors off of anyone in trivia games especially in her wheelhouse of categories regarding music, literature, entertainment, and pop culture. I shudder on the verge of any battle with her in Trivial Pursuit because she can run off four or five pie slices in a row at any given moment.

Of course, as a boy, I measured my athletic and intellectual prowess against my dad at any opportunity. I wanted to beat him at whatever we played so badly, I can hardly explain it. He wasn’t pushy whatsoever about winning. I just wanted to be on the same level as him.

Fast forward 30-plus years and the grasshopper has overtaken the master gradually in a few arenas. I write this last sentence without arrogance because the assumed advantage of youth suggests that is simply how it ought to be. However, to this day, I still have never defeated my dad in the following: chess, arm wrestling (our last battle was about 3 years ago – no joke), and racquetball.

Last week, we decided to test the waters on the racquetball front. Griswald plays pretty regularly, while I had not played in at least a year. (Can you anticipate my excuse coming on yet?) Still, I have 26 years on him. I had not yet even completed my first serve and he called some type of vague penalty against me for not striking the ball from an underhand position. I never heard of such a rule. Was he being serious, or was he engaging in psychological warfare? From that point forward, I lobbed meatballs to him and got crushed in two games, but saving face in a 16-14 pride game in our third round.

After our battle, we consulted an unbiased racquetball guru on the contested serve rule. Turns out, Grizz completely fabricated the serving rule. There were no restrictions whatsoever. I demanded a re-match. He yielded without protest.

The grudge match went down this Wednesday. Game 1 to the old man: 15 – 13. He got out to an early lead and I clawed my way back only to be bamboozled on a wily serve during game point. Game 2 to the kid: 15 – 7. Temporarily satisfying, but in retrospect, a Phyrric victory. Rubber match: the champ defends his title yet again: 15 – 11. No excuses. Age was the least of his possible handicaps, yet Clark still proved too strong for his oldest son. It was an honorable defeat.

Thanks, dad. How about another re-match? Hey, maybe we should bring Greta in on that next game…

Friday, February 5, 2010

Little Lovely

On February 8, 2010, G will be one whole year old. Damn, that was effing fast! I know it’s cliché, but really that time flew by.

In some ways, G’s presence reminds me at any given time of what it’s like to fall in love. Looking back over the last twelve months, I keep thinking about how she warms parts of my heart that I never knew existed or just plain forgot about.

Think about the first time you saw your current flame or even your high school sweetheart (for some of you, this is the same person): maybe your heart skipped a beat, perhaps you gasped, or your eyes widened just a little bit. I mean, you probably felt something metaphysical right? When the doctors placed Greta’s eight pounds and seven ounces in my arms for the first time at 2 in the morning that day, I experienced all three sensations at the same time. She was the most beautiful little creature I had ever seen – even though I could see some of me in her!

Now, the first unsolicited kiss or hug from both a first love or one's child is just gold. The unexpected display of affection can’t be beat. It warms you right up kind of like a little internal fireworks burst from within your chest to all of your extremities. Up to that moment, it never happened before so you have no frame of reference to prepare for it. The first time G drooly kissed me on my cheek I wasn’t looking, but once I realized what happened, I'm pretty sure I welled up a little bit because it was so unexpected.

As for the L word, we’re talking a totally different stratosphere. I’ll probably lose my shit like the wife watching any given episode of Biggest Loser when G drops her first “I love you” on me. In stark contrast to those of us whose first relationship “I love you” occurred in eighth grade, I anticipate (gratefully) that my first L word moment with G will in all likelihood not occur while slow dancing with pegged pants during a Def Leppard song.

And of course, in any relationship, there are the “painful” memories. Since taking G home from the hospital and handling her like a Jenga stack on its last move, I’ve somehow managed to 1) hit her head on an I-beam in a parking garage while placing her in the baby bjorn at just over 1 month old, 2) leave her unattended on the couch at six months old, thus allowing her to roll off and scream bloody murder, and 3) last night, play with the shower curtain until the curtain rod fell and clunked her head – great times! (To be clear, by painful I of course meant clumsy accidents that inevitably occur after spending lots of time together – not the kind of “accidents” that happen in Chris Brown/Rihanna relationships.)

Anyway, today I was killing time during a lunch break and I somehow managed to stroll around a shopping mall that had a Target attached to it. Normally, I gravitate towards those departments that interest me only – music, books, sporting equipment – and disregard any other displays or departments that might impair my search and destroy objective. But today, my typically blitzkrieg-like shopping mission became derailed as I passed by the toy section and spied something with Elmo on it. At that moment, I was thinking about my little Gigi.

Now granted, I didn’t buy anything (we’re trying to sell the place and I couldn’t stomach accumulating yet another item to try and stuff in the toy box especially when she is just as easily amused by emptying our dirty laundry basket as she is by a toy) but I still became distracted temporarily. The thought of G made me smile and realize how lucky I am to have to her in my life. I wished she was there with me so I could give her a big hug. I must be in love again! What can I say? I’m a sucker for a pretty lady…