Coming Out…

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  Or at least, not at this time.  My son Jesse, called me a few months ago to tell me that Stefanie, his wife, was pregnant.  So, here I am…outing myself.  I’m going to be a grandfather.

Of course, I’m thrilled for them.  A bit less so for myself.   There’s a couple of reasons that I’m not over the moon about this.  First,  I see this as just another nail in the coffin of the aging process against which I endlessly struggle.  Yet another sign that I’m no longer forty….or fifty or fifty-five  (you see where this is going).  But what troubles me even more is,  that at this particular time in my life, I’m single.  Not ‘single’, as in ‘not married’ but single as in, unattached.  I had never expected that to be the case when this moment came along.  And, if they’d had the kid a year or two sooner (or god knows how much later) things would be different.    This is one of life’s markers and it would be so much more exciting to celebrate with a partner. But as they say, everything in life is timing.

I can only see this as complicating my dating life.  While having a puppy may be a real draw for meeting women,  somehow I don’t see pushing a baby stroller with my grandkid in it as the world’s biggest turn on.  I know it wouldn’t be for me.   Somehow grandmothers and sex are not two words I use in the same sentence (other than the one I just wrote).  When I think “grandmother”, I get an image of my bubbe  with her flapping triceps area  and can’t imagine ever getting an erection again.

And then again, there’s the problem around choosing a name to be called. I suggested to Stefanie that I just  be called “Neil”.  She looked at me like she wanted to kill me.  (My guess is the same would go for “Lien”).  Jesse is very easy-going— had I said I want the kid to call me “Al Capone”, it probably would have been okay with him.  So, now I’m scrambling for some name that doesn’t sound like “Gramps” and doesn’t  conjure up an image of an amalgam of Walter Brennan, Gaby Hayes, Wilfred Brimley and Burl Ives (you could probably throw Methuselah into the mix also).  I will be the  only real grandfather….so at least  there doesn’t have to be that “Neil” part that comes after the term, à la “Grandpa Neil” or “Poppy Neil”.  My former wife Aliehs’s husband may want to be called “Grandpa David” or something along those lines , but I’m going to insist that it be “Step-Grandpa David”.  (kind of just rolls off the tongue…no?).  I’m sure this is going to make me very popular in that household.

One name that’s been floated is  the Yiddish term ,”Zeide” (put a gun to my head first); I wrote an old friend asking if she thought that zeides had sex;  she said that she thought so.  I pressed her and asked if she thought THIS zeide would have sex.  I haven’t heard back.

Someone in my office knows of a grandfather called “Pop Pop”.  When I hear that , a vision of Orville Redenbacher enters my brain.  So, no, no to “Pop Pop”.  Someone else I know says that when her grandmother re-married all the grandchildren referred to the new grandfather as “Sir”.   I swear!  I’ll let you have that conversation with Stefanie.  Or better yet, aliehS’s husband can give that a shot.

I’m sure that it’s obvious that I don’t know my ass from my eyebrow when it comes to this stuff,  but I bet  there’s some alternative out there that I haven’t thought of,  that may fit the bill perfectly. It occurred to me, for example, that  there are all sorts of African names that I haven’t even considered.  Actually, as I think about it,the idea of being called “grandpa” in Ethiopian is kind of exciting.


16 Responses to “Coming Out…”

  1. Arbee Says:

    Grandpa sounds pretty good. This I will guarantee: in spite of your ambivilance, you are going to get a lot of enjoyment out of this kid. Re the women: just tell the young one’s he/she is your child. There are a lot of new dad’s out there not a whole lot younger than you. Also, dye your hair, top and bottom.

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      rich… i DO dye my hair. if i didn’t, it would be black….i’ve chosen to go with the gray/white shade. gives me a sort of gravitas i value.

  2. maria Says:

    This is indeed a dilemma, but also warrants a Mazel Tov! (You’re aging either way.)
    As for what to call you, how about the name of an historic tennis star, like, Mats Vilander or Boris Becker. The kid should appreciate his/her grandpa’s tennis stature. And the girls (or should I say, women) will go for it too…

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      hi…seems like there’s two votes for boris. this could make a fun contest if anyone was really interested in it (besides me…..and possibly, you)

      glad you wrote….hope everyone is well.

  3. Claudia 1 Says:

    Ypu knew this a few months ago??? Maybe you should have waited until the kid’s bar or bat mitzah before going public. Having said that, I personally like “sir.” it’s very Dickensian

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:


      i hadn’t looked at it quite that way. i kind of like it. very direct, short, shows respect, probably easy for a kid to learn. okay…now, who’s going to make the call?

  4. jackie Says:

    I like Boris. My friend’s grandchild calls him Nono, I’m not sure why, but they have a unique Presbyterian- Chinese lineage, and when you consider your ambivalence and your propensity for backwards-speak, “oh no!” kind of makes sense, even though it’s not exactly backwards. As for our family, when my mother-in-law found out that she was going to be a grandmother for the first time she told us right off the bat, that she will be “Barbara, not Grandma” and to this day she is Barbara to my son and most of his 12 cousins. My father in-law has always been “Pa”, or “Papa”, which kind of conjures up Gabby Hayes, but I think you might want to consider it because it might imply, when you meet a potential hottie you want might want to hook up with, that the kid in the stroller is your son.

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      jackie… this is helpful. i’m going to ask stefanie if the kid can call me ‘barbara’. apparently there’s precedent.


  5. Jane Says:

    I’ve always had a warm feeling for the friendly casualness implied to me by the added S in “Pops”. And you could still pretend the kid is yours when the need arises. On the other hand, I’m now going to seriously consider proposing to you: I am dying to become a Bubbe, and my kids don’t seem to be getting me close to that. Perhap marrying a Zeide is the way to go! Neil, did you realize there’s an entire demographic of women running against their biological clocks, afraid of dying grandchildless? This baby may have just opened a door for you…

  6. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    jane… i like the versatility of the pop(s). really good thinkiing.

    and now, an almost proposal….this ‘grandfather’ thing is working out better than i ever expected!

    as an aside… you’ll explain to me where the biological clock fits in to grandmotherhood. it think it’s just the plain old seth thomas clock that may run out.

    take care

  7. arbee Says:

    Nono is good. It’s almost like Nana.

  8. Jane Says:

    Well Neil, at one point the biological clock was all about estrogen; but now, damn, it’s all about telomeres. I’m afraid they’re going to run out before my kids decide me little ones to hold, or before I have to push a walker at the same time as the baby carriage, and I just can’t figure that one will substitute for the other, from what I’m witnessing in my own parents.

  9. amre Says:

    Great news Neil! Was bound to happen. Thank your lucky stars!
    As for names, think of the baby’s name; not your’s!

    Grandpa usually does fine. E

  10. Marguerite Says:

    Congratulations! A whole new world awaits you! No matter what you are called—you will love it!

  11. john sprung Says:

    Welcome to the fold. I first became a grandfather at (relatively tender) age of 55. With two sons busily procreating, Riki and I now have four–a boy and a girl with each!
    As someone who always tries to view the cup as “half-full,” I have a positive thought on how wheeling a grand-baby carriage may actually be a “plus” for you in picking up women. While seeing you with a baby might not make them scream “dude!”, it won’t scare them off, as you are unlikely to appear threatening. They might even pause to say “how cute), albeit to the baby. The rest, gramps (something I still hate being called) is up to you. Best,

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