Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Mouths of Babes
A couple months ago, I got a call from an old college pal asking if I would meet with one of her sons, recently graduated from high school and about to enter UNM, who is interested in becoming a writer. This is a gal that I’ve maintained at least a semblance of contact with since the early 1990s. In fact, I like to think that in a round about way, I'm responsible for her son being on this planet.
It was sophomore year of college, first day of what I think was an American history class, and I was running late. Class had just begun, so I sat myself down in the first seat I saw, right next to—hello!— this really cute dude who looked almost exactly like how Tom Cruise was looking in those days, as in: not-yet-revealed-to-the-world-as-bat-shit-crazy-adorable.
He was also wearing a tee shirt with the word FIAT on it, which gave me the perfect opening during break.
Moi: “So, you drive a Fiat?”
Him: Adorable smile: “I wouldn’t really call it ‘drive.’”
Him: “Do you know what Fiat stands for?”
Moi: Blink, blink.
Him: Again with the adorable smile: “Fix It Again, Todd.”
Right then and there I decided I had no choice but to absolutely go after Todd with as much laser-focused effort as I could muster in between a life filled with class, work, keggers, and shopping. Which effort, alas, turned out to earn me a great big ol’ F for “fail,” because instead of falling for me, Todd fell hard for one of my friends, a pretty blond named Patty.
So hard that several weeks after meeting her, he cornered me during lunch, begging me to ask Patty if she were interested in him. What could I do? I did the right thing and said, I don’t have to ask, she digs ya, too. Go for it.
And so they started dating and when he cornered me again a few months later and said he was head over heels in love with her, what should he do, should he ask her to marry him? Again, what could I do? I did he right thing and said, yes, she adores you, is madly, passionately in love with you, we’ve been stalking your house for weeks and I need to get some sleep already, so go for it. And you know what? He did and they’re still head over heels in love with each other. Which turned out to be just fine with me. They were made for each other, and I was made to, well, date other people.
Anyway, fast forward a couple years to summer after graduation and I get a note from Todd and Patty saying Todd joined the army and they’re headed to Italy for the duration. Four years later, they’re back in town, Patty’s pregnant, and soon they produce what has to be the cutest baby boy I’ve ever seen in my life. So cute, in fact, that I lost all control of my senses and actually offered to give up two of my prime dating nights a month to babysit for this child just so I could nibble on his chubby cheeks and knees. Thankfully, I only had to do this once (Todd is possessed of a very large, much more diaper-changing-adept, family.)
Thereafter, things happen in both our lives, they have another baby, blah, blah, blah, I get married and divorced, blah, blah, blah, and eventually our contact is limited to once-a-year Christmas cards.
Until a few years back when we hooked up through Facebook. Fast forward to the “Can you talk with Tyler and advise him on becoming a writer?” query of a few months ago, and I find myself face-to-face with a handsome, 6’5”, 200-pound version of the baby whose cheeks I used to pinch, only one who now drives a motorcycle and calls me “ma’am.” We sit down with our lunch and our sodas and I begin to discuss the pros and cons of writing as a career, with an emphasis on the con side of the list. After all, I don’t want to shine this kid on.
When I get to the part where I say, “Are you sure there isn’t anything else you’d rather be doing?” he stops me. Although he has his mother’s coloring and facial features, the look in his eyes is 100 percent his father’s. “No, seriously,” he says. “I’ve thought about this and thought about this and this is something I really want to do. I need your help so I know I’m going about it the right way.”
What could I do? I did the right thing and told him to go for it.