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Throwback Father’s Day

A friend of mine just had a baby. A little baby girl, 3 days old as I write this.

He’s a great guy with a glorious mustache, and will be a legendary father. I’m a little jealous of the kid, actually.

My own Little Man was born during the run of a show here, where I work, with some of the same people around. So it’s been a bit of walk down memory lane

I remember the crazy, joyful pandemonium of those first few days, when you know you can’t live the life you used to, but haven’t figured out what the new one’s going to look like yet.

I remember the freedom, after nine months of worrying if you’re ready, if you’ll be good enough, if you’ll be able to handle this – the freedom of no longer having the time nor the energy to worry about anything. Except how you’re going change this dirty diaper without getting peed on. Again. The freedom that comes from, to borrow from Jesse The Mind, not having time to bleed.

I remember how disorienting it was to leave for work that first time after he was born. The alien nature of a world not centered around the Little Dude.

I remember leaving for a long day at work, and coming home to find him noticeably bigger. Hours could be measured in inches back then.

And of course, there’s weeping. No reminiscing about fatherhood is complete without weeping. I mean, I wouldn’t be mistaken for Vulcan in even the most heartless of my adolescent years, but I might as well be chopping onions and watching Game of Thrones for all the feels I got. Calling my parents to tell them they had a grandson? Took me three tries to get that out. Somebody comments on my announcement on facebook? Pass the tissue. Country Roads comes on Pandora? Excuse me, there’s something…something in my eye.

These days I get a little verklempt when I run out of espresso beans.

The hours are long and the years are short. It seems like a lifetime ago when this whole drooley, sleepless affair began. It was a lifetime ago, really. My son’s lifetime.

Happy Father’s Day. What a privilege to be a father, what an honor. Where’s my coffee?

awesome snow

 

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Sure it’s a diuretic, but WHAT a diuretic!

Coffee.

Nature’s Red Bull. Daddy’s little brown helper (the only situation in which that phrase is not racist). The Anti-beer – whatever you call it, it is the bitter brown essence of fatherhood.

I mean, I drank it before, but shit, fatherhood makes you appreciate coffee like “The Road” makes you appreciate a tax refund. Not just civilization, but the tangible, donut-buying benefits thereof.

The transition from single man to committed relationship can be a harsh one. It’s like the railroad choo-chooing inexorably through the proverbial wild west. Progress, certainly, but at the cost of a certain wild, dangerous beauty: There are now rules and standards associated with laundry. The existence of Star Wars memorabilia is no longer it’s own justification. You have to buy a calendar.

So you find your corners, the 15 minute chunks of the day when these little emancipations can occur in masturbatory secrecy. Garages and basements become man-caves, game consoles and 22 oz bottles of stupidly alcoholic beer sit waiting hungrily for a girls night out.

Throughout this time, coffee remains present, and useful, but no more than a tool.

And then baby drops. And man-caves become nurseries, or staging areas for baby swag and hand-me-downs after the shower and before craigslist. All the dark, sacred corners of the day are lost to failing battles of hygiene and unreturned correspondence. Girls’ nights out cease utterly, outlets for game consoles are usurped by baby monitors and swings, and absurdly strong beer (and the painful mornings they promise) are no longer sustainable while a tiny, helpless human being will be waking you up every two hours for the next 2-5 years

You stop seeing people. You no longer go out. You stand naked, scratching and bleary at the brilliant dawning of a life of responsibility as a good role model, utterly bereft of all the stupid, wonderful, ultimately damaging things which once defined you.

And it’s fine. We cowboy up. That’s what fathers do. We can’t gestate the kid, or pop him out. We can’t nurse him, we can’t regulate his body temperature (this is true, btw – moms can use skin to skin contact to regulate an infant’s temp – I just dropped science on you, BAM!). So our job is back-up. We’re your mission control, your best boy grip, Flava Flav to your Chuck D (yeah bo-eeeeey!). The mama looks out for the baby, the papa looks out for everybody.

But who takes care of the man? Who’s looking out for papa?

I’ll tell you who: Juan Valdez.

I want to say this again: it’s fine. I’m not complaining here. We go back to work full time, we get up to change diapers and check water & food at the nursing area. We rub feet, we rub shoulders, rub nickels together, and do dishes and laundry and god help you if you have to shovel snow. And it’s fine, it’s how it should be. That’s our role in the situation, and we don’t need all the other stuff we used to have because we have coffee.

Within that steaming, black liquid sanctuary hide the last vestiges of our fruitful genitals. In those bitter, frothy depths linger the Xbox’s of our souls, the man cave we need never surrender to practical useful purpose. Within the soft burble of the percolator echoes our resilient, savage roar, reminding hoofed mammals that they may yet become our prey even if we have to put our little pooper in the baby bjorn and make him hold the spears.

And best of all, it’s never far away. Instead of the days, weeks, months you spent anticipating all your old rituals of masculinity, the most you have to wait for coffee is 8hours, 4 diaper changes, 2 bottles and a short dancing session. It’s practically in your hand, my brother.

Espresso, French press, drip or gas station it doesn’t really matter, it’s yours. And it will never, ever judge you.

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