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Baby Brings Dad Unusual Attention from Beautiful Women

Photo by Gint Aras

Originally appeared at The Good Men Project on  October  26, 2012

Writer Gint Aras probes the odd phenomenon  of babies attracting babes…to his wife’s amusement

Prior to having Kira, my first child, I used to imagine what attention a baby  might attract in public. I was mostly curious but also mildly anxious.

I live in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb boasting good schools, beautiful parks  and playgrounds, and a diverse culture of bookworms and patrons of the arts,  things attractive to nerdy parents. Long before my wife had become pregnant, I  had seen exhausted moms minding their own business in coffee shops or diners, a  baby snoozing in a stroller, when a whole queue of strangers might form, each  one poking in a head before offering two sentimental cents. An elderly woman has  found the baby adorable. The empty-nesters cannot repress their nostalgia. A  wired dad on his lunch break must announce that he has an infant the same age.  And oh, what terror the nights have been! Crying, incessant crying. Colic! But  sweet Moses, does the time fly. Just last Wednesday his daughter had been the  size of a cantaloupe. Now—just in time for Halloween—she’s a pumpkin. Ha!

I noticed how pervasive the clichés of parenthood were: conversations between  parents were more predictable than sitcom scripts. Were these clichés at all?  Was I witnessing the small talk of the exhausted or something greater, a  multi-tentacled and inescapable truth that choked all originality from the  system? The talk of time flying, kids growing up so fast. One child  looks like mom while the other looks like dad (as if it should have been possible for one to  look like Jane Crawford, the other Reverend Marvin Gaye, Sr.). The arguments  over whose toes the baby had—were they aunt Caroline’s or grandpa Dave’s? It was  bad enough that my wife had been guilt-tripped into a shower registry, but did  family women really need to make a Russian doll of the cliché, suggest she set  it in Target or Babies R’Us?

I expected to deal with this at family gatherings, but shouldn’t I deserve  some peace when heading out to my local café? I have never handled small talk  well, neither at work nor on a park bench. Would I fly off the handle, insult  the gel-smeared head that poked itself into my daughter’s slumber? She’ll  grow up so fast. I’ve heard. Enjoy her now because she’s gonna to be a  teenager soon. Yes, true. She’s really very beautiful. Oh! Thank  you. I hope you have a shotgun.

When my daughter was finally born and I took her out for the first walk, I  was beaming with happiness. The anxious grump had all but disappeared, and I  welcomed the smiles from strangers who would have normally paid me no attention.  In fact, the odd ones were now those who caught notice of my sleeping baby but  offered no gesture. Here we were, so happily radiant together, a father and his  daughter. Yet this bastard just got his Americano and sat down next to us  without even a glance.

I ended up in conversations with all sorts of strangers: men and women of  every ethnicity and age, teenaged girls as well as drooling toddlers who’d  wander over and babble Baby. If I ever brought my daughter to work,  colleagues would give her little gifts. People on the subways were now helping  me carry Kira’s stroller up and down stairs. In restaurants, entire parties  moved from one table to another to offer me a more comfortable place. All of it  shocked me. Even now, three years into parenthood, a second child in the family,  I am not really used to it.

I am, however, used to people approaching me out of the blue. It quickly  becomes normal. So I didn’t find it odd when, on a warm October afternoon, an  attractive redhead—her German glasses, wool coat and cashmere scarf expensive  even for Oak Park—crouched down beside the stroller and began cooing. “Oh. What  a beautiful baby. An adorable child.”

Yes. Yes. And to repeat without stuttering, this was also an inexplicably attractive woman.

“What’s the baby’s name?”

“Kira.”

“Oh, my God. Just adorable.”

We had the usual small talk. “Kira’s six months old. She’s sleeping pretty  well.” But the woman didn’t waste much time before getting to her point. She  stood up, gave me a very direct glance and, flashing an easy smile, asked me: “So, where’s mom?”

“Mom? Well, she’s at home.”

“I see.” She nodded and looked down at Kira once again. “You have a beautiful  daughter. Congratulations.”

The woman walked toward the library and my eyes followed her for a good  moment. I then strolled around the neighborhood wondering what had just  happened. That smile stayed with me—it caused a buzz in my throat and loins. Had  she meant to be coquettish? Why was I feeling awkward and naughty about this  particular buzz in my loins?

At such moments, I usually tell my wife that I feel weird. “Hey, I got hit on  today.”

“Yeah? Good for you.”

“No. It happened.”

“Where?”

“The café. This woman. She asked me, Where’s mom?”

My wife laughed. “What did she look like?”

I described her.

“You’re hilarious. She’s just curious. You wouldn’t think she’s hitting on  you if she weren’t gorgeous.”

“No. I think she flashed a coquettish smile.”

Her laugh was now rising from deep in the diaphragm. “Good. Take the baby on  more walks.”

I continued taking the baby on walks, just as I continued going to the café,  and Kira continued attracting random people. Then, only days later, another  striking beauty presented herself, this one younger, brunette, a stack of  medical textbooks on her table. She made small talk about Kira’s cute hat and  her snug sleeping bag. Then she flashed a smile and asked, “So…where’s mom?”

I made a point now to observe her smile, to memorize it, and I can say with  confidence that a jury of homosexual Greeks would have skipped deliberation.  Coquette! Frigid nuns would have pointed arthritic fingers: “That one’s making  eyes.” Nabokov would have patted me on the back: Tell her your daughter’s  mother died of typhus in Corfu.

But it could not be! An infant? Attracting beautiful women? A few weeks later  it happened again, and the beauty asked me, again, “Where’s mom?” This was not  friendly curiosity. It must have been my naked ring finger—my wife and I had  been unable to afford rings before our wedding and finally never bothered with  them. What other explanation could there be? At that time I had been horribly  out of shape, clinically obese, a double chin. I was suffering from insomnia,  usually looked exhausted, and despite any effort, my hair fell in ways that  accentuated bald spots. In short, I was uglier than I had ever been in my life,  and yet the sophisticated beauties of an affluent suburb were making inquiries.  Nothing vaguely similar had ever happened when I was in college or living in  Europe, and I never got it when I was alone. It only happened when I  had Kira.

A period passed when the experiences seemed to have ended. I explained them  away as weird karma or my own delusions. But soon a few more women flashed their  smiles and asked for my wife’s whereabouts. I wish I could interview them  because I’m at a loss—most women close to me, including my sister-in-law and  wife, brush it off as blithe conversation, tell me I’m inflating things. I’m  assuming these women had no kids of their own, for example. Perhaps they’re  right. Because what could a single woman’s motivation be? If I said, My wife  died of typhus in Corfu, would they ask for my number? Is it some weird  fetish guys don’t know about (and should I tell my single friends to push  strollers around the streets)? If I were really a single dad, would these women  honestly want to involve themselves in my complicated life, help raise some  other woman’s kid? Could they possibly assume I’d have very much spare time? If  fathers are naturally attractive—if a man demonstrates his appeal simply by  being a dad—do you make the leap to think he wants to father your kids  just as well? After two kids, my wife and I are not interested in any more,  either with each other or anyone else.

Since having kids, I have so often talked to exhausted moms of newborns,  twins or rambunctious toddlers. I have looked into their strollers and started  clichéd conversations. Yet I have never asked them to tell me where their  partners were. It’s not because I lack curiosity. When you learn how difficult  it is to raise kids, you wonder if it’s just as difficult for others, what their  circumstances might be. But those circumstances are a private matter, and they  explain the pervasive, completely safe clichés of parental camaraderie. I also  have a feeling that an exhausted mom might take offense if some random guy  started asking about her partner: was s/he near or far or dumped or dead? She  might even ask me who I thought I was. Was it any of my business?

– See more at:  http://goodmenproject.com/families/baby-brings-dad-unusual-attention-from-beautiful-women/#sthash.GBVhK1qx.dpuf Read more at http://goodmenproject.com/families/baby-brings-dad-unusual-attention-from-beautiful-women/#eVC3Yl5EVxH6eSTy.99

 

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Originally posted 2013-02-27 15:41:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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