Do not have a baby. You are full of light and fire and piss and vinegar — like a non-sexual, golden erection (that smells a little like urine and vinegar). Babies are difficult; life should be easy, or at least minimally challenging. Do not have a baby. Do not baby-proof your home. Your home, if you have one, is great.
You have a baby? Aaahh, so. That’s my hilarious “wise Asian” impression. It’s not offensive because I am portraying the Asian as wise, a positive trait. Anyway, forget what I said in Step 1. That was just to fluff up those weaklings that are afraid of having a baby just because it’s “incredibly difficult”. Now that they’re gone, we can talk mano a mano, which is Spanish for “man to man” (just add an “o” to any English word and voila! (French) you’ve got a Spanish word. Like this — “burrito-o”).
Babies, if you have them, are great, but they’re dangerous. They come out of the womb possessing almost no self-preservation instincts and, in fact, have a nearly superhuman propensity for doing things that have a high likelihood of killing them. No, not heroin. And that’s not funny. I’m no “square” but I don’t think it’s humorous to joke about what will definitely kill Miley Cyrus.
Babies will topple things that you didn’t think could topple, tangle themselves in cords no matter how far you push them under the couch, stick their fingers in sockets like they’re alien cyborgs pre-programmed to steal all of our precious electricity, and put anything and everything in their mouths (kind of like my ex-wife, Sheila¹). So, you will need to lock down everything in your home like Fort Knox or risk injury to or even death of your precious baby, which would almost definitely lead to some questions from the authorities, followed by some answers from you, followed by a trial, followed by jail time, followed by intimidation and possible assault from fellow inmates, followed by you joining a gang to protect yourself (I know, but what else could you do?!), followed by some unfortunate tattoos, followed by deep psychological distress, followed by parole, followed by laser tattoo removal, followed by — well, you get the picture — death eventually. None of us will be free of death’s promise. That’s the title of my new collection of limericks. Let me know if it sounds a little clunky. Actually, you know what, don’t. My ego’s a little fragile these days² and I’d probably just get defensive.
Buy a drill. The drill is a metaphor for your power. Raising a child can be chaotic, can make you feel helpless. The drill is your way of exerting control, of exerting your power.
Do NOT use the drill on your child! Jesus! Is that what you thought I meant? No. No. Don’t do that.
Plug in the drill and rev it a couple times. You don’t even have to put a bit in; just rev it. “Bit” is a weak word, don’t you think? Bit. We’ll have to change it to something stronger. “Butt?” No, too many associations. “Chud?” “Nguh?” Yeah, I like that. Nguh! Anyway, you don’t even need to put an nguh! into the drill. Just rev it a couple times. Feels good, right? Yeah…oh yeah…mmm…uh huh. Yes.
Plug all of your unused sockets with those little plastic plug cover things. What? You thought we were going to jump right to using the drill? Whoa there, Sparky! Someone’s all keyed up! No, no, no, my friend. You’ve got to work up to the main event. The climax. I’ve always said, if baby-proofing is one thing, it is a narrative metaphor for sex.
Wait…no, that doesn’t sound right. Let me check my notes. I — no…yes, no, that’s something else. I’m sorry, I was thinking of something else. Sorry.
Gather your cords and cables against the wall. Tape them down if possible. Your child will eschew all of the expensive toys you bought them and spend all of their time attempting to turn your exposed cables into a noose. Babies, like magician/creep David Blaine, love danger.
Buy a stud-finder. Haha, no, you can’t use my ex-wife Sheila³. Well, I mean, you could use her like a recalcitrant 7-year-old uses a pencil sharpener over and over and over in an attempt to avoid sitting down at their desk and doing any real work, but…no, no, I’ve lost the simile. Ahem. Anyway, your local hardware store will likely have an assortment you can choose from.
Place the stud-finder against the wall and move it horizontally until the red light goes off, indicating you have found a stud. The standard American building has studs placed 16 inches apart in the wall. Occasionally, buildings will have studs placed 24 inches apart.
Neither is true for your building. Your building appears to special. The studs are either placed at random intervals or possibly don’t exist at all. Your walls are a random amalgamation of plaster, wood, dry-wall, masonry, and, seemingly, cardboard. They are a direct reflection of the internal state of your brain since having a child. You are damaged. You are unwell, mentally.
You were unable to find a stud. Go buy a set of plastic anchors that will allow you to drill into the drywall. Sit on the curb outside of the hardware store and think about all of the common household tasks that you are unable to master. You can bullshit a 20 page paper on Shakespeare’s use of moon-related imagery in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but you can’t unclog a drain. You can’t change a tire. You have to watch a Youtube video before feeling capable of cleaning your shower. You are a flaccid, flatulent, liberal-arts insult to your forebears. You look down and poke at your soft belly; you gently jiggle your incipient man-breasts. You are on a slow but inexorable journey towards becoming a human marshmallow. Eventually, you will simply sit, puffy and inoffensive, in the corner of your child’s room, occasionally used as a chair or pillow, gathering dust, growing old. Dying.
Snap out of it! You can do this! Not well, probably, not well at all — maybe a C+. But, if you can at least complete this job with some tiny crumb of competence, maybe the anxiety, the chorus of voices chanting “ineffectual, ineffectual”, will recede. Lift the drill. Insert the correctly-sized nguh! Press the drill against the place on the wall that you wish to violate. Prepare to exert your will, your manhood, on the wall. Prepare to exert some modicum of control over your life. Firmly press the trigger.
The nguh! breaks!
It goes in an inch, hits some unknowable obstruction in your wall, and snaps in half. Hold the pieces of the broken nguh! in your hand and look at them. Think briefly, wildly, of shoving them into your mouth and swallowing them. Do not do this. Instead, let them fall to the ground and roll into a corner where your baby will eventually find them and almost certainly ingest them. Hold the drill in your hands and contemplate it. It is somehow wet. Ah! Yes, of course. You are crying. Those are your tears. They are coming freely now. Look around the room at the many heavy objects that it is now abundantly clear you will never be able to affix to the wall yourself. Your baby, your sweet child, will die a horrible, lonely death under a bookcase, or dresser, or television. This much is certain. You have failed.
Leave your home. Go out into the light and the noise. Feel the sun and the breeze on your tear-stained cheeks. It is now that part of the Fall when the temperature begins to drop and the warmth of the sun is a tangible, knowable thing — the light now wholly distinguishable from the shade. Walk to the park and sit alone on a bench, back straight. Listen to the cardinals and sparrows sing their dialogic songs. Let the distant sound of traffic work its soporific spell on you. Let your shoulders drop and your hands finally unclench. This will be ok. You will be ok. You will go down to the hardware store and ask one of the kind, taciturn men there to do the baby-proofing for you. You will negotiate a more than reasonable price. His name will be Manuel, maybe, Manny to his friends. Though he could, he will not smile in a way that reveals his disdain for your soft, white, upper-middle-class incompetence. You will want to hug him, but you will recognize that that would be an uncomfortable experience for him, so you will settle for a firm handshake.
Your wife and child will eventually come home, and you will ruefully describe your struggle with the furniture, the studs, the drill. Your wife will embrace you, kiss your cheek, indulge your self-pity a bit but not too much, and massage your bruised ego. Your baby will giggle and beam, blissfully unaware of the various death traps surrounding them.
That night you will lie in bed and think that, maybe, you must admit, there are things that you are good at beyond writing bad but serviceable essays on Shakespeare, even if none immediately come to mind.
¹ FUCK YOU SHEILA
² FUCK YOU SHEILA
³ FUCK YOU SHEILA