We had the kind of Saturday evening that causes my legs to cross, my uterus to clench, and my ovaries to go on strike.
Those of you who know me know that I do not categorically like children.
If I love you, odds are I will love your kid. And if I love your kid, I'll do pretty much anything, including dealing with his meltdown while you're at the gynecologist.
But I take it on a case-by-case, or rather, a kid-by-kid basis.
When a colleague brings a baby to the office, my tendency is never to rush forward exclaiming, "Ooh, what a cute baby!"
No. More likely I'm easing out the side door. Or deeply engrossed in a work project, too busy to look up while the stroller and gaggle of baby adorers pass by.
And just because I like you doesn't mean I'll think your kid is cute. This is why people like my friend Kay, who had a lovely girl last year, knows that I am sincere when I say that she is one beautiful kid.
On Saturday night one of Nick's sisters, her husband, and three children were in town.
They have a super cute, well-behaved 9 year old boy, an equally cute but is likely one of Satan's minions 4 year old girl, and a blob of a baby.
We took them to a child-friendly pizza place in Alexandria. The walls are bright pink, or maybe purple, I can't quite recall. There are games for kids to lose all of Uncle Nick's quarters in. There's a jukebox for them to put Uncle Nick's dollars changed into quarters - a 54 step process in itself - into and then complain that the quarters are gone.
There's a gumball machine, which produces large gumballs, to be slightly chewed and handed to Uncle Nick to hold. There's a clown who makes fabulous balloon things, like an astoundingly well done Little Mermaid! And a baseball bat! There are lots and lots of screaming, jumping children.
In other words, it's my definition of a Little Piece of Hell.
So we're eating our pizza and pasta - both mainly with our grubby little hands, regardless of type of food or availability of utensils - and the kids are clamoring for more quarters more quarters Uncle Nick more quarters pleeeaaase Uncle Nick, so that they can sprint off and lose them within 42 seconds of acquiring them.
Nick said that at several points during dinner he looked over and I was cutting my food (with utensils), staring straight forward, and he knew I was thinking something like, "Just breathe. 33 more minutes and this will all be over."
Everyone else was having soft drinks, so I was going to, but Nick ordered a large beer with dinner, and luckily I followed suit. Large meant goblet I had to pick up with both hands large. Which at first I thought was excessive, but if I had ever met these people before and felt comfortable, I'd have chugged it and asked for another halfway through dinner. Fuck, I'd have done a keg stand, had one been available.
At some point with all the commotion it gets hot in there, and so I take off my sweater.
Shortly thereafter, Nick's sister offers to show me the cute trick that her baby can do. And I'm thinking, "Boy, it's a good thing he can do tricks, because he sure lags behind his siblings in the looks department."
Because remember how I said I'm not one of these all-babies-are-cute people? He's at the far end of the not-cute spectrum.
So the trick is peek-a-boo.
And when she asks where he is, he'll hold something in front of his face, delighted that he's invisible. It turns out to actually be a very cute thing. Where is he? There he is!
I have a low tolerance for this sort of thing, but he is a smiley kid, and it's a relief that screaming niece is elsewhere. Although elsewhere turns out to be picking coins off the bathroom floor. Nick makes her put them back, although I'm not sure if he successfully gets her to scour her hands. Before the meltdown, I mean.
And then the sister asks for my sweater. Which she then hands to the baby so he can pull it up between then when it's his cue to hide.
And what I hope does not show on my face is: Ick ick baby ick! That baby is going to get gross baby drool on my sweater! And he's holding it with the hands he mashed into his sister's plate of spaghetti. Which was covered in butter. And 85 shakes of Parmesan cheese, because boy, is cheese fun to shake when you run out of quarters! It's almost as fun as running around screaming!
And so I am cringing quietly, thinking, "Lis, it's just a sweater, be more generous with the baby."
The peek-a-boo show is abruptly cut short by the arrival of Nick and niece.
Actually, we hear them way before we see them. He's striding towards, us, niece under one arm. Or, what you assume is the niece, because mostly what you see is Nick carrying something that has a blonde head and a whirlwind of swinging, kicking arms and legs. The whirlwind is producing astoundingly loud yelling and sobbing noises.
Because it is a horrible thing to be pried off the bathroom floor and forced back to the table.
For that kind of travesty, the grown-ups definitely need to be punished.
Dinner ends, everyone is herded out, and we go our separate ways. I've rarely been so happy to wave goodbye to anyone.
We go home and collapse on the couch, thoroughly agitated and exhausted.