Oh Baby!!

I was alone in my office at the end of the day earlier this week when a woman I know came in to talk with me.    She had been  waiting for a bus at the stop just outside my office and had some time to kill. We’ve known each other through   business for twenty years or more but I hadn’t seen her for a few years.  I doubt that a serious conversation has ever passed between us.

We chit chatted for a few minutes,  mostly about real estate and then she asked in a very earnest way, “So, how are you”?   Nowadays,  (I guess because I’m in the real estate business) when someone asks that,  it often has the same tone one might have with a mourner at a funeral.   I told her I was doing well and generally,  life was pretty good.  And then…and then  without missing a beat and  from out of nowhere and with no context whatsoever a 5″ X 7″ photo magically appeared in her hand.  She thrust it at me saying  that she had recently become a  grandmother.   She went on to say that the kid was gorgeous and brilliant and  even though she knew all grandparents say that about their grandchildren,  in her case, it was the truth.    So, feeling somewhat trapped, I spent an appropriate amount of time looking at the baby (who indeed, was very cute) while oohing and aahhing.   I was also keeping one eye out for her bus to show up while making a mental note to call  Mayor Bloomberg to see what could be done to cut down on the waiting time for  buses. Finally, my ‘friend’ said goodbye to catch her bus and I was free to go back to the musings that keep me occupied.

This got me thinking about the  last time a maneuver like this  had been used on me.  It  was when I was at my dentist’s office.  I was strapped in the chair with lots of tubes coming  out of my mouth when suddenly,  the hygienist started flashing photos of her grandchildren at me.  All , while holding a sharp metal object pointed at my mouth.  I’m not stupid (at least, not in this way),  so I gestured and tried to get the word “adorable’ to emanate from my overcrowded mouth. This seemed to do the trick.

I’ve often wondered what brings people with whom  I have only a passing  relationship  to foist baby pictures at me when I haven’t uttered the words, “Do you have any pictures of the kid(s) with you?”  There must be something in my eyes or demeanor that  gives the impression that I’m really, really interested in seeing photos of babies I don’t know but am just too shy or reserved to ask.   I really have to work on that.

This latest incident reminded me of  an essay in Adam Gopnik’s memoir, Paris To The Moon,  in which he  writes  about the birth of his first child.  He was seeing an Old World Freudian analyst at the time….very Germanic, heavy wool suits, darkened room…the works.   Gopnik excitedly brings in a photo of his newborn to show his shrink.    The analyst looks carefully at the picture, looks up at Gopnik and dispassionately says,  “yes,  yes….. I see a picture of a little baby.”   I kind of like that directness but that’s a somewhat unique relationship and it  probably would be really off-putting if I tried it.   So, I’m toying with the idea of renting a grandchild (until I have the real thing) and making a mid-length film featuring her or him.   Playable on my laptop or an i-phone.  Next time someone whips out some baby photos, I’ll just ask……”Do you have a half-hour, 45 minutes at most,  to kill?  I have this film that I just know you’ll love………”


One Response to “Oh Baby!!”

  1. ed Says:

    I’ve been similiarly victimized on the other end. I’ve been asked for pix of my kids & reply, “I don’t carry any around.” The withering, disgusted look I receive also makes me wish that bus would come soon.

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