my winter christmannukkwanzyuletide solstice vacation, days 1 & 2
greetings from vermont! yesterday was a big day. new yawk city was in the throes of its third transit strike in 40 years. mrs nice guy and i had to figure out how to get ourselves, the baby and the 397 pieces of luggage that we now travel with out to LaGuardia. i had called my favorite car service a good 18 hours before we needed to be picked up, figuring i had been clever to call so far in advance during the strike. i said "we need a car at 6 am." the car service lady said "we have 12 cars booked for 6 am." i said "how about 5:30?" she said "you got it." i said "christ almighty that's early even for us."
the car arrived right on time, in the deepest dark of the freezing pre-dawn hour. as mrs nice guy readied the baby, i carried our 397 bags to the waiting car, my breath freezing in the air before shattering at my feet. i loaded the car. i went upstairs and was joined by my wife and child. we got into the nice warm car only to find that we were to be crammed in with two other people! what?! 5:30 in the morning and we have to share a car to LaGuardia!? damn you, roger toussaint and your beguiling trinidadian accent!!! i was hoping to load up the car and sleep for a blissful 30 minutes or so. but no. we settle into our seats and the Perky Paula sitting shotgun turns around and says "so where are you going?!" ah yes: small talk before 6 am. i believe this has been the trigger of not a few genocides.
mrs nice guy and i respond, in unison, "burlington." Perky Paula says "OMIGOD ME TOO!!" we all marvel at this incredible coincidence.
and then we marvel at the fact that it's not yet 6 am and all of the streets in brooklyn are mired in gridlock. traffic everywhere. people going to work, desperately trying to bum a ride across one of the overloaded bridges into manhattan. post-katrina everybody was fretting about the possible need for our city to evacuate -- nobody could have guessed there was a more urgent call for an invacuation procedure. since we're not heading into the city ourselves, we gradually make it to the airport. we even get there on time! yay!
the flight itself is uneventful. in vermont we are picked up by my mater-in-law. i ask my wife to let me carry the baby off the plane because it will probably be the last time i am allowed to hold her for a week. after deplaning (man, that's an awesome word), i hand the baby over to my mater-in-law, the baby's dutch omi, who takes us back to her house, her husband and her dutch-slovenian mother.
did you catch that? did you see how many moms and daughters were in that last paragraph?! add them up: here we have baby nice guy and her mother. and of course there's my baby's mother's mother. and then there's mother's mother's mother! four generations of women! that's a lotta mama! upon walking through the front door, it dawns on me: this is not my christmas vacation. no. i am an extra in this movie, vestigial. i am an also-ran. i am the caddy and court jester of the New Matriarchy. sure, i am the father of the next generation, but my work is done. i am superfluous. redundant. the women are running the show here and i am wearing their deodorant.
so after the first day of our winter vacation -- the women's hooded robes folded and tucked away for the night, the stains from the blood sacrament dutifully scrubbed -- we go to bed. the baby is exhausted. she has not napped. her crib is in my wife's childhood room and it is too big to relocate. so this means my wife and i must move our mattress to some other part of the house. after a thorough search, it becomes apparent that the only place where we will have enough room is ... the basement. next to the heater. so we did what any good parents would do: we put the baby to sleep in my wife's rightful room and we went to sleep in the house's sweltering hades. at least we were warm.
for about 20 minutes. at 11 pm the child started to scream. this lasted until 3 am. but she did not stop screaming at this point. no. at this point mrs nice guy brought the child to our bed and banished me to the arctic living room couch, allowing me only a single blanket made from tiny clouds of marshmallow dust. i lay there until 8 am, moving from one freezing sofa (too short) to the other (too narrow) while envisioning my wife and child cuddling in the womb-warmth of the basement and plotting my hideous demise. at 8 am mater-in-law nice guy picked up the baby and i returned to my wife in the basement. she informed me that while i had been "sleeping" for the past five hours, the baby had been having a bizarre fit of nipple-biting and mattress-clawing. it seems i did not have it as badly as i thought.
anyway. today the baby behaved largely like an insane sleep-deprived caged animal in the midst of a heroic manic episode. her cheeks were a new shade of deep red so we assume she is teething some more. great timing, baby. i guess this is her idea of a gift to us: a week's worth of basement-dwelling and 3 am shrieking.
anyway. this evening she's been feeling much better. we gave her some baby advil. the child's dutch omi and great-grand-omi willl have plenty of time to whisper cabalistic anti-nice guy mysticism to her in ancient languages while i take naps. and now it's 10 pm and she has been dormant, like a volcano, for three hours. so, while i still can, i am going to shut down the computer and join my wife in the comfort of our bed, down in the warmth of her ancestral basement.