First up we have Natalie’s godfather, who has pretty much led the charge in voting for the MooHoo in the Top Baby Blog ranks and inadvertantly become pretty knowledgeable about the world of baby blogs. It’s not rare for me to get facebook messages, texts, and emails from him about how the numbers are shaping up over at TBB. Seriously.
So I asked him to share a miscellany of thoughts with you readers, and he was game. He agreed, on the conditions that A) he be allowed to cuss, and B) that I shamelessly promote his book, The Curator, available for download on amazon.com. After some other diva negotiations, we worked out a deal. With only minor tweaking (not to impinge on his writing style, but to remove words that would surely offend my mother), I present our first ever Manly Monday guest post, from The Last King of Hollywood himself. Enjoy.
I was asked by the Hoo to be a guest blogger on the MooHoo megasite and naturally, as is typically the case, I found myself unable to say no. I imagine that the key demographic of this site’s readership is mothers and/or soon-to-be mothers in their 20’s and 30’s. This is where yours truly comes in — because clearly, when it comes to the topic of motherhood, nobody knows more about that shit than the Last King of Hollywood, Jonathan Beech (Yes ladies, I referred to my self as the pre-eminent monarch of California in the third person).
You must be wondering why Hilary asked a chucklehead such as myself to guest post on her all-star baby blog. I suppose the first thing I should do is let you know a little bit more about myself. I’m wildly handsome in a James-Dean-meets-Luke-Perry kind of way. I’m ambitious, hilarious, a romantic who has written novels. I’ve also been told that I’m a good kisser. These are really important things, let’s be honest. Using only two words to describe myself, I’d have to go with “modesty” and “sarcasm.”
So Hilary’s asking me to blog here makes little sense because my life as it stands is in no way, shape, or form relevant to anything having to do with parenthood. But I’m a writer, and as is the case in stories not written by Dean Koontz, the plot thickens.
In 2002, Hilary and Mike walked into my apartment to visit my roommate who was, for all intents and purposes, Mike’s childhood best friend (at the time – obvi). I wish I could spend time dwelling on the state of my “apartment,” but that would send this whole thing blazing into tangents best saved for another time. To put it mildly, they walked into a moderately abhorrent cesspool of vice and depravity. There was a sword through a rotting kielbasa in the graffiti-riddled hallway leading up to the living room where they found Mike’s best friend and his roommate zonked out of their gourds, sitting around a litter box full of cat shit, watching the “Steve Harvey Show” (For the record, the WB was the only channel we got at our residence). In the kitchen, there was glass and filth (literally) piled waist high (Yes, that said glass.). I offered Hilary a beverage, being the gentleman-in-training that I was. Mike and Hilary left my place three minutes later. The next time I saw them, some months later, I tossed pizza near Hilary and ruined her new white cashmere sweater (Hey, I said I was in training, OK?). Needless to say, fans of mine? The MooHoos were not.
Flash forward six years, and this devilish bastard breaks through his chrysalis and becomes a precocious saucy minx. Somewhere along the way, my relationship with the MooHoos also developed into one of the closer friendships I had. They even asked me to be in their wedding party. We go forward another two years and they have themselves a kid, which utterly blows my mind because I’m still trying to keep some girl from giving me the run around and here my friends are, popping out new humans. Unreal.
So, with the background covered, we’ve arrived at the point of Hilary’s request — to have a single male friend give his thoughts on baby blogdom. Back to story time…
I met Natalie at another friend’s wedding last summer when she was no more than eight weeks old. Hilary was trying to get ready for the wedding and Mike was off trying to figure out cufflinks as if someone asked him to recreate a functional Saturn-V rocket with silly putty, nail polish remover, and a bag of live crickets. Hilary left me with the baby, a bottle, and asked me to “watch her.”
Now, here’s where things get tricky. There are no infant babies in my line of work, which mostly involves drunken screaming matches with brunettes outside bars on the lower East Side of Manhattan. I hadn’t held a child since my youngest cousin was born… and she’s now a college freshman. So it’s been a while. Natalie, as it turns out, is a tough customer and really tosses me into the fire. She immediately starts crying. I give her the bottle and she stops. Everything’s cool for about five minutes and I think, “Aww, this is nice. I got this.” Baby Natalie coughs and half of the milk dribbles onto the lapel of my suit jacket. No biggie.
From the other room, Hilary shouts above a hairdryer, “Be careful with that stuff, it’s breast milk I pumped this morning.”
I look down and lament, “Ah for fuck’s sake!” The baby starts crying. I’m covered in boob juice and Natalie hates me again. Apparently, “I don’t got it.”
During the next few months, I took another shot at it and spend some more time with the baby on a trip up to Maine during the summer. That was a pretty great time and we even coaxed some of her first smiles out that weekend. Hilary really hit the ground running with this blog, too. I promised to do my part to vote for her page and all that (which you should all do every day by the by). That was about it though.
Something pretty intense happened and I kid you not, this is a real story. I had a complete falling out with a girl I cared about for a particularly long time. Things were building to a head for a long time and one night, we said some things to each other on the phone that were probably the cruelest imaginable things to come out of human mouths. It was one of those arguments that honestly left me devastated. I mean… I was in love with her in every way… and I certainly didn’t say that on the telephone. But after what we each said though… there really wasn’t much to say or anyone to say it to anymore. I just sort of internalized my feelings, completely beside myself depressed. I still probably haven’t told anyone about that night until right here. For the next week or so, I found myself doing what we all do–sitting on Facebook moping and feeling bad for myself, looking at pictures of times and people I probably should have been avoiding, when all of a sudden in the newsfeed, Hil posts pictures of Natalie.
I remember seeing the kid smiling and bopping around really livin’ it up. Right there, in my ultra-sensitive state of mind is the ultimate juxtaposition of life and the human condition. I spent the previous few days thinking about how awful everything is and there, some 500 miles away is this new person now a part of my life by default, experiencing the world for the first time. In the pictures, it was obvious how everything was so new and exciting and shiny and fantastic to Baby Nat. And I distinctly remember looking at the album and having the first honest-to-goodness laugh I’d had in weeks (not to be all emo). And because of Natalie Flagg, I was reminded that life is, in fact, very good.
So now I begrudgingly started reading the baby blog in earnest, mainly because I dig the person my two friends created. I start learning things about having kids that are altogether shocking for a straight man in his twenties. Like, I want to keep this thing somewhat G-rated, but seriously girls… fucking shocking. Raising a kid is apparently tough work.
I also started reading some of the other blogs. Now here’s the thing. A lot of the time, I’ll click on the ones that look like they have the doucheiest kids because I just want to be able to remind Hilary of how much Natalie rocks and how some other kids don’t. And don’t you, the good readers out there get mad at me. Just because it’s a baby doesn’t mean you have to like it. There’s no rule written anywhere. Try sitting next to one on a red eye from the UK to New York while it screams in your ear as if someone is tearing its hair out ten follicles at a time.
To be fair, this is actually something I learned about in my baby blog adventures. There are inherently no such things as a “douche babies.” There are douchey parents. If you smile complacently like Terry Shiavo on the beach and ignore your screaming baby on a red eye flight for seven hours, the kid isn’t the douche, you are. If your toddler runs around breaking things and smacking other children and the best you can do is shrug and say, “Terrible twos, ya know?” The kid isn’t a douche. You are. Having a kid is a responsibility and from what all you good women have to say, if it takes a town to raise a kid, it first takes a good home to make sure the town doesn’t think the kid is a douche bag.
In any case, a wild thing happened right around this time of baby blog discovery. A friend of mine knocked some girl up in Alabama on a business trip. She had the kid despite what he might have wanted. I’m not sure what the situation was and it’s not my place to comment, but he did think it was appropriate to buy his daughter a gift. He’s a putz, but still in my general social circle bracket of “single straight professional New Yorker in his 20’s.” He comes downstairs and shows us the gift and I freak out at him. “What is this shit? You can’t buy a baby this. It’s for ages 4 and up so she won’t even understand it and look at all the small pieces. She’s going to choke on them you idiot. All babies do is put crap in their mouths. Especially in a few months when she starts teething.”
Holy… shit. I’m one Katherine Heigl short of a Katherine Heigl movie. I have actually risen above the level of irresponsible bachelor… and it’s all because of you bloggin’ girls.
Now, to close this off, Hilary and Mike eventually asked me to be Natalie’s Godfather because I do really care about that kid. It’s a very cool dynamic really–you’re given the chance to help teach someone new about the world, and, in the end, they end up teaching you about it too.
Not that it matters, but a year later, I did eventually end up hugging things out with that girl and sharing in an apology. And no, things aren’t perfect. I’m sitting here on a Friday night writing this and she’s out there wherever she is right now; Rome wasn’t (re)built in a day. But there were still a lot of good things coming out of our relationship and I’d rather focus on that than what’s wrong. And I know it might sound crazy, but I learned a lot about that because I laughed at Hilary’s pictures last year.
I went up to visit the Natifuster during the dead of winter this year. She had gotten a lot bigger and hit that stage where she was crawling around the house and starting to express herself. The first thing she did was take my baseball cap off my head (very ballsy move, young lady) and proceed to chew on the brim (see, what did I say about teething?). I took it away from her and placed it over her head. “Hats go on the head. You don’t eat them.” She just sat there, frozen, with this oversized hat covering her entire head, deep in thought. A month later, I see more pictures on Hilary’s blog and apparently Natalie has a thing for wearing hats–particularly this big poofy purple one. I don’t know if I had anything to do with that, but if I did, I’m pretty honored to be a part of it.
If you’ve got any guys in your life who would like in on the baby blog circuit, convince them to do a guest post on your blog & leave a comment linking to what they have to say so we all can read it! The Manly Monday thing is in the formative stages, so no promises on its frequency, but if any of you are down to link up, let me know and I’ll keep it going.
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