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Saturday, February 19, 2011

I am “That Guy” or How I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back and what I learned

               The Thursday before Valentine’s Day, I surprised my wife with a trip downtown to see South Pacific. Friday, we attended a dance performance by the “Verb” at the Breen Performing Arts Center.  On Valentine’s Day, I went with my wife to “Baby Yoga”. Did you know that Baby Yoga existed? Well, it does!
                Now, it was the Wednesday after Valentine’s Day. My coworker, Darrell, yelled across the hall asking what I had done for Valentine’s Day.  I reeled off my list with some satisfaction, “Took her to South Pacific, saw a dance performance on Friday, watched basketball at the Winking Lizard on Sunday, and went to “Baby Yoga” on Monday.” 
                Darrell got up from his desk and silently came over to my office door. “Are you one of those artsy fartsy guys?” he asked.
                A brief wave of panic washed over me and I stammered out a response. “Well, my wife likes that stuff, and I got to go to the bar to watch basketball.”
                His steady gaze remained on me, “Baby Yoga, huh?” His eyes narrowed. I could nearly read his mind, “Your That Guy.”
                I was dead in the water.  I had been nailed. I realized I was “That Guy.” You know, the guy who goes to the play.  The one who brings his wife the cosmo when they are at the bar.  The one who leaves early from the poker game with the guys.    These are the things “That Guy” does.  That guy makes other guys look bad.
                Seen from the other side of the gender divide “That Guy” looks different.  He helps with laundry and chores at home. He asks her how she is doing and listens when she describes how she feels.  He makes women swoon. “That Guy” is the good guy and he still makes other guys look bad.
                I tried to maintain my cool as Darrell went back to his office, but I thought about it all day.  There comes a time when even “That Guy” has to be honest, right? 
                I got the tickets to “South Pacific” because I wanted to see it.  NPR had done a segment on it earlier in the week.  It sounded cool.  And the dance performance provided one of the most athletically rigorous and thought provoking evenings of recent memory.  The variety of music and motion created a stunning effect. A three dimensional canvas stretched through a performance of more than an hour that left mind and body tingling. I liked it.  I really really liked it. Don’t get me started on “Baby Yoga”. Meditation.  Movement.   Focusing mind and body and doing it with my wife.  The session inspired me and pushed my physical limits.  It recalled me to the basics of life…breathe and love.
                Then there was my moment : the macho moment. We watched the game. I drank beer and she had an odouls. We both farted…more than once. I followed her beautiful blue eyes while she followed the abundance of large screen tvs.  “Did you see the guy spin all the way around in the air? Who was that guy?” I smiled most of the time at the bar. It had nothing to do with watching the game or having a beer.
                Sitting at my desk, I smiled and realized that, really, it’s fantastic being “That Guy” when your wife is “That Girl.”

Friday, February 4, 2011


     As a priest, I was called Father all day, but never thought about being a daddy. Now, I think about being a daddy all the time and I couldn't be happier.
     We saw our first ultrasound just a few weeks ago. Sara's tummy barely showed any signs of being pregnant. The technician cleared a little space on my wife's abdomen. She spread on some gel and moved the ultrasound device slowly around just below the belly button. First, we saw a hand. Neatly formed finger bones appeared, clearly visible for a moment. Then in rapid succession: the top of a head, a torso, the bottom of a foot, and the length of a leg. The screen went dark for a moment as the technician tried to find another good position for the instrument. Both feet came into view. The little child appeared seated in profile. The feet whirred rapidly as if the baby rode an impossibly small invisible bike. Suddenly, as if impelled by the energy of those little legs, we witnessed a complete back flip. Talk about miniature athletic talent!
     Now, I am drawn to babies constantly. They whole city is crawling with them and I can't stop watching them. At any given moment there must be 10 at Giant Eagle. I don't notice the parents as much, but I see the babies. In Church there are usually dozens with at least one guaranteed near by. I make faces at them and they try to mimic. I stick out my tongue and they wriggle theirs. I smile and they beam. I intermittently try to pay attention to mass and reach out to hold Sara close as we pray together.
     It isn't hard to imagine holding my newborn. I visit my first and only God-daughter, Carmen, and my God-baby-mama indulgently lets me hold her while she chats with my wife. I practice cradling her head. She wriggles and turns her.
“She's really squirmy today.”
“Which way is she turning her head?”
“Away from me.”
“Good, that means she's not hungry yet. If she was hungry she would turn toward you.”
I'm glad she isn't hungry yet. That means I can keep her a little longer. Her smallness amazes me. She has tiny old man's hands. Her skin is incredibly soft and she has a great abundance of hair. Her eyes are blue.
Still moments of fear crop up. Have you ever watched the Supernanny? Apparently anything can happen when children are involved. And don't even get me started on all the possible complications or the things a pregnant mom is “supposed to do.”
     We just try to shower our love down on “little C”. A little blessing for the baby at prayer times. Eat right and act with common sense. Sara and I love each other more every day making the most of these months. I guess there isn't anything else to do. Just trust, have faith, and enjoy each moment.

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