Tag Archives: relationships

Baby And Me by Lori Schafer

Our best friends were having a baby. Inwardly, I groaned.

“You know what this means, Frank?” I complained to my boyfriend. “They won’t be going out with us anymore.” One by one our friends had succumbed to the bothersome burdens of boring adulthood: first marriage, now children. Soon only Frank and I would be left gloriously unencumbered.

“Sure they will,” he reassured me. “It’ll just be earlier. And, um, noisier.”

He should know. His sister had a kid, a rambunctious pre-school aged brat with no redeeming qualities that I had ever observed. Frank volunteered to baby-sit every so often. I called this my quarterly booster of birth control. Each time his nephew arrived I wanted children even less.

Frank, I suspected, was a bit soft on the kid thing. He seemed to like children an awful lot for someone who claimed not to want any. Once he had even told me that if I changed my mind about having one, he might be on board with it. I said that was just his biological clock ticking.

The pregnancy seemed to last forever, and I wasn’t the one carrying the bowling ball around in my belly. Every week when we visited our friends – who had already begun the mystifying transformation from regular adults into the strange creatures known as Mom and Dad – we had to suffer through the latest revelations. The tests, the pictures, the ultrasounds, the boy-girl debate and its resolution, the design and decoration of the nursery, how soon they wanted the next kid to come along. I feigned interest. Graciously, I hoped. I was happy for them — really I was — but only in a generic sort of way. I mean, I’m glad, too, when the local team makes it to the World Series, but I still don’t watch the games.

And then finally it happened: the kid was born; healthy, rosy cheeks, ten fingers and toes, and everyone was happy, all except for me. I still complained.

“Now we’re going to have to go and see the baby,” I whined, fully aware that this was spoiled and selfish and not caring in the slightest.

“So?” Frank replied, puzzled, his warm, dreamy eyes already misting over in anticipation of witnessing the wondrous miracle of magnificent new life.

“Never mind,” I answered. It would have taken too long to explain.

For our friends’ sake, I did try. I pretended to be impressed by the wee magical creature sleeping so adorably in the pink bassinet. I expounded with delight on how she had her mother’s ears and her father’s eyes, or maybe it was the other way around. I chuckled when Dad played peek-a-boo and made kitchy-coo noises at her. I was very convincing.

Too convincing.

“Do you want to hold her?” Mom inquired in a hushed tone, as if it were a great honor bestowed only upon the most worthy of visitors to the baby’s shrine.

“That’s okay,” I said, summoning all of the firm politeness I could muster.

“It’s all right; you can hold her,” she assured me.

“No, thank you,” I replied, less politely and more firmly, well aware from past experience that even the least doting of new parents would refuse to believe that there could be a woman on Earth who didn’t really want to hold the baby.

“Aw, come on, you know you want to!” she urged, prompting me to wonder whether she and the kid were part of a grand conspiracy to make a mom out of me whether I wanted it or not. “Here, just take her for a minute,” she repeated, dumping the kid in my lap as if it were a grocery bag I was supposed to bring out to the car. “I’ll be right back.”

So then I had to sit there with my arms out holding the kid’s head up like you’re supposed to, and wondering when this enforced bonding time was going to be over, and how many more years I would have to put up with this annoying little creature and the brothers and sisters that would soon follow it, and then she reached out with her tiny pink fist to grab hold of my index finger in the sweetest, most endearing gesture you have ever seen.

“Forget it, kid,” I said scornfully. “That’s the oldest trick in the book. You’re not winning me over with that.”

A sentimental sigh ruffled the air behind my back and I whipped my head around to find Frank peering covertly at the tender scene from the edge of the doorway. “Oh, how cute!” he proclaimed, springing ecstatically into the nursery, evidently unabashed at being so red-handedly caught spying. “You look so natural sitting there with a baby on your lap!”

“Forget it, bub,” I answered, glaring up at him. “You’re not winning me over with that old trick. You like it so much, you take it!”

He opened his arms to grab hold of the wee darling, and laid her across his chest, prompting her punctually to spit up all over it. And then another, more powerful stench filled the room, causing the dreamy mist to fall abruptly from Frank’s eyes like an old-time theater curtain over a completed movie fantasy. Staring horrified at the hand that had been supporting the baby’s bottom as if it were contaminated, he set her ruefully down in the crib and yelled for Mom and Dad to come and fix her.

“Whew!” he exclaimed, plainly disgusted, struggling to remove the spit-up from his shirt with a baby-wipe while the baby’s piercing cries rang throughout the bunny-lined nursery. “That’s why I’m glad we are never going to have children.”

I looked with new respect and appreciation at the screaming, stinking little bugger and wondered whether she and I had more in common than I’d thought. And with that I reached down into the crib, grasped the baby gently by that pint-sized fist and whispered, “Thanks, kid. You might not be so bad after all.”

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This story originally appeared in Every Day Fiction.

Lori Schafer’s flash fiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications. Her first two novels, My Life with Michael: A Story of Sex and Beer for the Middle-Aged and Just the Three of Us: An Erotic Romantic Comedy for the Commitment-Challenged, will be released in 2015. You can find out more about Lori and her forthcoming projects by visiting her website at http://lorilschafer.com/.

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The Bingo Sorceress by Justin Grimbol

“Are you wearing a sweat suit?” Bella asked.

“Maybe,” I said.

I was in the kitchen scavenging for crackers. And yes, I was wearing a black sweatshirt and black sweat pants. It was a sweat suit. It was true.

“You are wearing a sweat suit,” she said. “And it’s the creepiest, cutest sweat suit ever. Have you left the house yet today?”

Bella was my wife and she had just come home from work and she looked happy to see me, regardless of the sweat suit and my freaked-out, cave-dweller appearance.

She even gave me a hug.

“I love you,” she said.

“You’re hugging me too tightly,” I said.

She let go and rolled her eyes.

“So, what did you do today?” she asked.

“I worked on stuff.”

“Like what?”

“Writing stuff.”

“What kinda writing stuff?”

“Just stuff.”

I looked at the light in the kitchen.

“Have you been in the house all day?” she asked.

I looked at her face. I loved that face. I loved her big eyes and her dirty blonde hair and her goofy expressions.

I stared at her face awhile.

“Wow. You are really out of it,” she said.

“I’m so out of it right now. I haven’t been out all day and I feel cray cray.”

She laughed. Bella loved the term “cray cray.”

And I usually loved Bella’s bouncy laughter. But it was too much for me right then.

“You don’t get it. I feel like shit. I wanted to ride my bike, but there was too much snow and ice. It’s a snowpocalypse out there.”

Bella laughed. She also loved the term “snowpocalypse.” She thought that she had invented it, but I was the one who had invented it.

“I invented that word,” she said.

“Can we please not fight right now, I’ve had a rough day.”

“You’ve had a rough day. I had a doozy of a day,” Bella said.

She started listing all the things that happened at work. She worked as a recreational coordinator at a neurological center. She worked with the kids. They had a variety of issues. Some couldn’t talk or even move much. Most of them had behavioral issues. Biting and headbutting were fairly normal. So was poop-throwing. One kid liked to swallow shoes. That’s right, whole shoes.

Earlier that day, she had asked this one kid to go to bed. He called her a “fat bitch.” He wanted to stay up eating cookies and watching TV. That was understandable enough. Bella suggested a compromise. Maybe he could have one more cookie and even a chocolate milk, but he had to go to bed. “Fuck your compromise, fat bitch,” the kid said. Then as she was walking down the hall she saw the kid’s little middle fingers poking in and out of his room.

“And then there’s this one kid,” she went on. “He calls me ‘Hairy Armpits.’ And now all the kids call me that.”

I smiled. I liked that nickname. It was a good nickname.

She had hairy armpits cause of me. I thought they were sexy. When we first started dating, I asked her to grow her armpit hair out and she agreed.

Bella kept listing off crazed things the kids in her program had done.

But it all sounded adorable to me. And I could tell she wasn’t really bothered by it either.

Her last job was much rougher.

The kids threw poop at her almost every other day and she got headbutted frequently.

One time a kid right in front of her dug out a bunch of poop and then grabbed her hair. It took five men to pry the kid off of her. She lost a bunch of hair and she smelled poopy for days.

This new job was easy by comparison. And she knew that.

Still, she liked to bitch.

“You need to cut your hair,” she said, switching subjects.

“What? No,” I said. “I want my hair to be long and powerful.”

“Honey, you’re balding. When you have long hair you just look creepy. Plus you need to start looking for a job.”

“I know, you’re right.”

“What do you want for dinner?” she asked.

“Let’s skip dinner and go to Bingo night,” I said.

“Should we?”

“Fuck it, we’ve both had rough days. You got called out on your hairy armpits and I had my wife call me a creepy bald guy.”

She nodded.

“Do we have the money?”

“We’ll take some out of our savings.”

She got excited and started hopping around the house, clapping her hands and making weird noises.

I loved it when Bella got excited like that.

I loved watching her.

She was so goofy. So goofy it went right past clumsy and awkward and became something beautiful.

And she had a good laugh. It was loud and sloppy. It took guts to have a laugh like that.

Guts and a big butt. My wife had a big butt. A big, warm butt. A stinky butt. I was sure that big butt was linked to her laugh somehow. The secret to that laugh was in there. I just had to find it. With my face.

“Look at my butt!” she said, as she was changing out of her work clothes.

“It’s my butt. Not yours.”

I grabbed it. And squeezed.

She slapped my hand away and ran off, laughing.

*****

We drove to the Ivanhoe, this cozy Irish pub on Main Street in Racine, Wisconsin.

There was barely anybody there. I figured it was going to be easy to win.

We ordered dark, dark stouts and some bingo cards.

The girl reading the numbers was drunk and she was acting belligerent and wild and that wildness made all the unfunny things she said hilarious. Even though she had a weak chin and no hips and tacky highlights in her hair, I wanted to cuddle with her and smell her butt a little.

But I held my wifey close, hoping she could protect my chubby body against this bingo sorceress and her boozy magic.

“O 69,” she called out.

And everyone laughed.

Things got rowdy.

I got rowdy.

Every time I got a number, I hooted and hollered and acted nuts.

But, even though there were only six people in the bar, I didn’t win a single game.

Some old guy bought us shots.

There was a muscle-bound, middle-aged dude at the bar. He grabbed Bella’s butt while she was walking to the bathroom.

I looked at him. It wasn’t a mean look or an angry look. Just a look.

I was thinking, man, this guy looks like a gym teacher.

The guy caught me staring. At first I thought he was going to fight me, but then he apologized for grabbing my wife’s ass. And bought me a beer.

I drank the beer.

Bella came back.

The guy bought her a beer as well.

Bella laughed and rolled her eyes.

Bella, the old ass grabber, and I raised our glasses and made a toast.

“BUTTS ARE AWESOME!” I yelled.

Bella cheered.

The old butt grabber shook his head and turned away from us.

I kissed Bella on the mouth.

Her breath was foul, but I liked it that way.

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Justin Grimbol is the author of THE PARTY LORDS, THE CREEK and THE CRUD MASTERS. He lives in Racine, Wisconsin. He’s kinda stinky.

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