Eight years ago today, just a little after eight o’clock at night, The Minkey took his first breaths, and I was changed forever (obviously, he was fundamentally changed by the very act of being born, and, having been a twelve-pound natural birth, he rather changed his mother as well, but this is my story, so we’re sticking with my perspective). It was a fitting end to an eventful pregnancy, and I found myself staring into the unending stretch of infinity as I considered what this tiny baby represented, and how he carried me forever forward into the future, yet another step towards genetic immortality, a journey which had begun billions of years before, and would continue until the last of my descendants failed to use their charm to talk a member of the opposite sex into overlooking our obvious physical limitations in favor of our humor and romantic natures. I figured that I would be the final member of my particular genetic line, but it turns out that there is someone for everyone, and several months later, nature having taken care of itself without any regard to my efforts both to help and to hinder, my son was passed that particular torch, and from somewhere deep with a double helix, I felt a sigh of relief. I may have valid reasons for having been hesitant to pass along defective genes, but they didn’t recognize my authority to negotiate on their behalf.
David was born a week late, and would have been induced on the tenth anniversary of a very special night (one that only comes once in a young man’s life), had he not decided to enter the world when he had. I’d been growing concerned about this, feeling that it must be some sort of sign that something was going to happen, and it was bad enough that Flor, despite being a little over nine months pregnant, picked up on it almost immediately. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the sort of thing that a guy can openly discuss with his pregnant girlfriend. I did manage to build up the courage to tell her a number of years later, to about the sort of reception which I had been imagining. The evening of the 26th, we decided to take an evening for ourselves, Flor and I, figuring that, one way or another, it might very well be our last chance for the foreseeable future, and went out to an Italian restaurant in downtown Berkeley which we’d seen before, but at which we’d never eaten. I forgot what Flor ordered, but I had the pasta carbonara. As it tuns out, I should have been paying better attention to Flor’s menu option, as the following morning, the contractions began.
I distinctly remember being calmer than expectant fathers are normally portrayed in film, but Flor reminds every year that I was just as excitable and useless. Her brother (and his children) came to pick us up in the early afternoon, and drive us to the hospital. We took a more direct route than that which I had grown accustomed to, having become a professional rider of buses, and I remember thinking how strange it was that I had never been that way before, and how streets lined on either side with Palm tress seemed both beautiful and stereotypically Californian. Flor had made sure that we’d brought everything important for the next few days, whereas I made sure I’d brought along my Cuban cigar, which had been a gift from Fed. I’d suggested that perhaps a bottle of Absinthe might have been more appropriate, both metaphorically and literally, but he reminded me that a cigar was more traditional, and that the Absinthe in his possession was his. Unwilling to walk away empty-handed, I thanked him for the cigar, and talked him out of a glass of Absinthe, since he already had it out. It was delicious.
Up until we’d gotten to the hospital, Flor seemed under the delusion that she would prefer to have a completely natural experience. I kept reminding her that having a miniature human explode from her nether regions, while traditional and evolutionarily approved, was still about the most unnatural thing that either of us was likely to experience until Holodecks became a thing. As the contractions grew closer, and the shifting mass of life began to thrash about her womb as if it were a mosh pit, she began to reconsider, which was good, because by the time she finally got the epidural, it was almost too late. They’d left her suffering for too long, and when they finally showed up, she practically jammed the needle into her spine on her very own. I would like to take a moment now to mention something which has been riffed upon by comedians for as long as I can remember: I would like to get an epidural at least once before I die. I have been high, in my more youthful days, to such an extent that I could understand both nothingness and infinity (they are the same thing), warp across large spaces in just a couple of steps, and get lost between my driveway and the next, and I have never been as high as Flor was in the hours before my son was born.
I told her stories about a Princess who came to a strange land to save the day, sacrificing the life she knew for one of constant confusion and struggle. How she was stuck there, even after her quest was done, as if there was something more which she had yet to do. How she met a warbling minstrel, and fell in love with him, though she was of noble birth, and he was as far from nobility as one could ever hope to be. How they had a son, an intelligent and creative son, one who would validate their struggles in this land which was not her own, and redeem them with the beauty which he would both deliver to, and inspire within this sad and barren country. And how, though she had not seen them since she’d had to leave, her parents, the King and Queen forgave her for her absence, and were well pleased by their newborn grandson. By the time I had finished, she had been passed out for a while, though for exactly how long, I couldn’t tell you, as I’d been caught up in the telling of our story in only slightly mangled Spanish. Her dreams did not last for long, however, as when it was go time, the stabs of pain tore raggedly through the blanket haze of the drugs and brought her into focus.
David spent the first week of his life in the NICU, and Flor, though discharged from the hospital, never left his side. When we were finally able to bring him home, it seemed that he’d gotten so much bigger (though, according to his measurements, he’d only barely caught up with his birth weight), and all of the newborn clothes and accessories we’d purchased and were given, were woefully inadequate to cover him. It was a mad dash to get him larger things to wear, both clothing and diapers, and we discovered that they don’t actually make newborn things in giant sizes. He grew so quickly, both physically and mentally, that by the time Valentine’s Day ’08 had rolled around, he’d managed enough motor control to stab me in the eye. Before I knew it, he was walking (and getting into everything), talking (he still hasn’t shut up since), and doing his best to force his will upon everyone he meets.
Soon it was time for his first birthday party, which, as I mentioned above, was a little underwhelming. We also took him up to celebrate in Washington, but the turnout was more or less the same, especially if you disqualify family attendance. And then, before we knew it, his sister came to live with us, Flor and I got married, and David was celebrating another birthday. His third and fourth birthdays were slightly more festive affairs (with a Star Trek cake and TARDIS cake, respectively), and by his fifth birthday, his mother had decided not to spend a fortune on his party. This year is a far more sober affair, intentionally small and inexpensive, and I’m hoping that it will be his favorite to date, but mainly because he’s getting LEGO Jurassic World, and he hasn’t shut up about wanting it since the first time that he saw that it existed.
I have had the pleasure of knowing him for his entire life, and watching him along the path to the man who he is destined to become, growing and developing before my very eyes. From the first time that I saw him on a sonogram, appearing as some sort of water-based demonic lifeform, to the first time that I saw him in the flesh, covered in goo, with a reflating head, to the moment when I knew that I was a dad, when he was connected up to machines through wires and tubes stuck into the stump of what once had been his most intimate connection to another human being, I have watched him grow. And from the first time he rolled over, to his first steps, to his roaming about and randomly collapsing in the backyard of the apartment which we had in Berkeley, I have been there to see him developing. His first words spoken, his first sentence, and the first words, and then first book he ever read; the pride in me swelled up so much that I could barely maintain a balance. I do not know who he’ll become, but I’ve seen him as he’s doing it. I love him a little more, each and every day, though there are times when I would much rather not have to suffer him. He is my son, my future and my nemesis, and I love him more than I ever though was possible.