“Would you like to see the cutest baby in the world?”


The question from my intoxicated bar guest last Saturday night and my annoyed internal response. For the record, I actually really like kids. I’ve done my fair share of babysitting and full time nannying in my never ending quest to pay the bills and for one reason or another, children and I seem to get along. It is, however, an entirely different thing to pretend to be interested in a bunch of pictures of some random baby to whom you have no relation or acquaintance. I mean, come on. Babies are (let’s be honest) kind of strange looking little creatures. I can only “awww” and “how cute!” for so long before my cheeks begin to hurt and little pieces of my soul start slowly dying as I sell them off bit by bit for a bigger tip. But what can I do? I have to say yes or risk offending the nice drunk lady who is about to pay me. So, with forced enthusiasm:

Me: Sure!

NDL: (pulling out her iPhone and beginning to sort through dozens of baby photos) This is the two of us last Sunday…oh! and this is his first real cookie… and this is him giving me a hug… you know, he really does give the best hugs!… and this is him with his Bubby, that’s what we call the blanket I gave him…

Me: (brains oozing out my ears) He seems to be pretty special!

NDL: Oh he is! Well… uhm… you know… he’s… (she trailed off uncomfortably at this point).

Me: Yes?

NDL: Well my son had an affair you know…

PRAISE MERCIFUL ALLAH this just got interesting!!

Me: Oh?

NDL: (pointing to the little boy on her iPhone) Yes, he’s the product of the affair.

Me: Uh… well… at least something special came from the situation…

What the hell ELSE could I say?!

IBG: (enthusiastically) Oh yes! We just adore our new little boy! We can’t imagine life without him!

It’s the word “new” that struck me. They never mentioned their son again and our conversation ended ambiguously in that regard. I got the distinct impression that while they adored their new grandson, they hadn’t forgiven the son for his actions and were instead focusing on their ‘replacement child’.

Instantly, my thoughts began to race. I wondered what that conversation must have been like. “Mom, Dad, I had an affair. She’s pregnant. We’re keeping it.” I wondered what these parents said in response. I wondered about the illicit couple, if they were still together or if the son had tried to reconcile with his wife. I wondered about the wife, what she must have felt having learned of the affair, I presume, at the same time she learned about the child. I wondered about the child who, for the rest of his life, will know that his very existence was formed in secrecy and deceit.

In that one instant I felt sad and confused and indignant and awkward all at once. But mostly, it was just awkward.