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The following is an actual conversation I had with my husband when I was eight months pregnant:

ME:   I want to go to the city on Friday to visit the energy healer, but I’m nervous. (Author’s Note: File “I want to…visit the energy healer” under things I never thought I would hear myself say.)

MATT:   Why would you be nervous?

ME:   Because. What if someone sees me and realizes how pregnant I am? Then they might kidnap and kill me and cut the baby out and sell him on the black market.

MATT:   (Pause.) What? Why would you think that would happen?

ME:   That sort of thing happens all the time. It’s not uncommon. I heard it happening recently in the news!

Matt’s incredulous, wide-eyed stare indicates that he is weighing the pros and cons of making his next statement….

MATT:   Ummm…Baby? I believe that was actually a Law and Order episode.

I was speechless for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that I had been completely serious in my concern that someone might steal my baby. I was also stunned when it hit me that I had been watching so much TV that the lines between reality and my fantasy-TV-world had become so blurred. I was impressed at how brave Matt had been to break the news to me, because it was entirely possible that in my anger at myself for being such a big loser, I might have shot the messenger.

Reality-check in Aisle 5, please.

In fairness, Law and Order episodes are “ripped from the headlines.” If I was honest with myself, though, the true cause of any confusion was the fact that I had been watching about four hours of Law and Order a day for the previous month. I blame TNT for allowing this to happen – damn them and their beautiful syndication!

Yes, I know there is research that television is bad for you: it’s linked to obesity, depression, homicide, suicide, acne and excessive spending.  So I made some of that up. Nonetheless, most people agree that doing things is much preferable to watching imaginary people do things. But when I am stressed and tired and life is getting me down nothing makes me feel better than snuggling up to my flat-screen high-definition television and some wonderfully cheesy Lifetime movie.

Am I the only one who gets so invested in the television I watch that I sometimes start to think about these people as real? What is it about watching a series regularly that makes you feel as if you know the characters personally? Cheers and Seinfeld, two comedy classics, were hilarious partly because the characters were so well-developed that you could actually predict how they might act or what they might say in a certain situation. This familiarity created anticipation that heightened the comedy, and it also made the characters become friends-in-your-head.

Then there is the consideration that these characters come into your home. They visit you weekly or nightly or even four hours a night like my friends Briscoe and Curtis. They can be in your life for years, especially if you’re willing to mindlessly sit through reruns. In fact, some of my TV friendships have lasted longer than my friendships with real people. As life gets busier, it’s just easier to stay in touch with the friends you can record on your DVR.

Five years ago, when I was going through a divorce and I was feeling very low, I had no energy to do anything other than go to work and pretend that everything was fine. By the time I got home I was completed drained; as a result my evening ritual consisted of sitting on the couch eating Mexican food and watching reruns of the Gilmore Girls. If you need to escape a sad reality, why wouldn’t you go to a place filled with eccentric characters who say witty things while hanging out in a diner? Why wouldn’t you want to visit with people to whom bad things don’t happen, where the worst thing that ever happens is that the main character gets into a fender bender with the car her boyfriend gave her? I can think of worse places to visit than Stars Hollow, and my spending time in that imaginary town went on for months.

So it should come as no surprise that, as I was walking through town with a friend last Friday, I had another mix-up. I started to wave at someone before quickly retracting my hand.

“Do you know her?” my friend asked.

“I thought I did, but it was someone else,” I replied. I had thought it was Lane Kim…one of my friends from the Gilmore Girls.

How pathetic.

Having a new baby is an amazing experience in so many ways.  But that’s not what we’re going to discuss in this post.  We’re going to talk about how having a baby can be stressful at times:  the lack of sleep, the constantly dirty diapers, the efforts to figure out why the baby is crying, and….trying to dress the baby.  Would you believe me if I told you that dressing my son has been the hardest part of having a baby so far?

Let me explain.  I can’t dress myself and anyone who knows me would attest to that.  I have never found enjoyment in expressing myself through fashion.  For me, wearing clothes is a means to an end – I put on clothes so I can leave the house without getting arrested.  Does this sound like an exaggeration?  Here are a few data points for you:

  • Throughout the 90s, I wore one type of outfit for weekend nights out:  blue jeans, ankle boots and a black jacket, which my friends referred to as my “uniform.”  There were a few variations on this theme, such as replacing the jacket with a black shirt or wearing black sandals in the summer instead of boots, but that was more or less how I dressed for almost ten years.  Once or twice I switched it up and wore a denim shirt and black pants.  Toward the end of the decade my look evolved to a black shirt and black skirt (that’s right) with black knee high boots for winter or black wedge sandals for summer.
  • I wear black almost all of the time.  One of my brothers actually jokes that my closet looks like it belongs to a super-hero because it is just rows of black clothes that look exactly the same.  I used to let people in the suburban New Jersey office where I worked think that I wore a ton of black because I spent so much time in New York City and I was just that cool.  Neither of those things are true.  The real reasons I wear so much black are (1) if I always wear black I could use the same black shoes and purse all of the time, and (2) if I spill something on myself it won’t show (anyone who has seen me eat knows this is a real issue).  For confirmation about my black fixation, see my previous post about my son’s baptism where I am dressed like I am attending a funeral instead of a Christening.
  • At one point, circa 1997, I realized that if everything I ever bought had a little bit of spandex then I would never have to use an iron again.  I never looked back.
  • A woman who worked for me once called me out for wearing the same black boots every day for over six months.  You should have seen her performance review after that!  Just joking, I don’t believe in retribution in the workplace, as far as you know.
  • A man who worked with me once offered to take me shopping to help me expand my wardrobe – what?!  Yes, it’s true.  He and I worked together when the term “metrosexual” became mainstream, which I thought was impeccable timing on behalf of the Universe.  One time he was explaining the importance of spending $100-$200 on a pair of jeans because of how good they make your butt look and I was just floored because it never occured to me to spend more than $40.  Yet, when I needed new sunglasses because the pair I had bought three years prior had broken, I took him with me at lunchtime to help me pick out a pair.  I bought two pairs and I will never admit how much I spent, but I did get a lot of compliments on them.  As I am writing this it occurs to me that I haven’t gotten compliments on those sunglasses in a long while.  Maybe that’s because the shopping excursion was in 2005 so they are probably out of fashion by now.  Yikes.  I might be beyond help.

That’s enough.  I mean, there’s more, but I am choosing to stop because I am becoming appalled with myself. 

So now I am responsible for dressing another person.  That is, I am responsible for it until my son can pick out his own clothes and then we are Big Daddy-ing it all the way, and I won’t care if his teachers call the Division of Youth Services because his outfit raises concerns that he might live alone. 

For the first couple of  months of my son’s life we both wore pajamas every day.  It didn’t make a lot of sense to put actual outfits on him (or me) since we were pretty much homebound while it snowed outside and I spent every day figuring out the whole “Holy crap I have a baby” thing.  That wasn’t such a big deal except that this phase lasted a week or so too long and one day when my mother came over in the afternoon she said “Aren’t you going to dress him for the day?”  I was like, “Um, I guess.”  

There are some things about dressing a baby that are easy, like how you can buy complete outfits thus taking out a lot of the guesswork.  Initially I thought, “This is a cake walk,” and then tops and bottoms got separated and all hell broke loose.  Maybe what happened was he spit up on the shirt so that went into the laundry separate from the pants, or maybe it was just that when things came out of the laundry it wasn’t obvious what went together.  I would look at a little animal on a shirt and ask myself, “Is that a little bear that goes with the pants with the paw print on the butt, or should it go with the overalls with the other little bear?”  One time I chose a cool shirt that said “Future Rock Star,” which had a white background with lines and stars and stuff on it, and I paired it with navy blue pants.  It wasn’t until we got to where we were headed that I realized the lines on the shirt were red and BLACK, not blue, thus thrusting my son right into fashion victim status with the rookie mistake of mixing black and navy blue.  Where are Garanimals when you need them?!  (Authors Note:  In the process of writing this post I did a quick search and found that Garaminals still exist – woo hoo!) 

Eventually I figured out which tops and bottoms went together, and in some cases I even made little outfits out of things that didn’t come together, so it was all good…for about two or three weeks until the unthinkable happened – my son grew!  And the “uniforms” I had established for him no longer fit.  Back to square one.

Below are two photos of my son. The first outfit I have affectionately termed “Laundry Day” and the second was my favorite outfit for obvious reasons (Go Giants!) but it’s too small now.

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That’s it…wish this kid luck that he won’t be a social outcast someday because of his clothes.

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.

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© Operation Peace and Serenity, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Operation Peace and Serenity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.