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Thursday, January 19, 2006

getting out more often

it's recently been pointed out to me by several people, quite forcefully and many times over, that i "need to get out more often." fair enough. when you're at home with an infant and the weather is largely inclement, it's not so easy to just dash on out to the civilized world for stretches at a time. so, yes, things around the nice guy abode have been getting a touch lord-of-the-flies-y. just the other day i caught one of the cats feasting on the entrails of the other cat. not pretty. my wife has even taken to calling me Piggy (although i suspect that is less a literary allusion and has more to do with the fact that i have not exercised in eight months. whatever).

ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pride that i announce: yesterday i got out! for the first time ever, mrs nice guy and i hired a babysitter. we have had generous friends offer to watch the baby, we have had family hold down the fort, but never until last night had we paid a stranger to mind our offspring. so it's not like we haven't had a date since the child was born, but this was a big step for us nonetheless. here's how it went down:

yesterday, mrs nice guy's office threw its year-beginning party. lots of bland hotel food, huge open bar, terrible dj, embarrassing drunken office hookups. unbearably painful if you work at the firm, but if you are a spouse, why, it's comedy gold! so when mrs nice guy told me she would like me to be her date, i said "i wouldn't miss it for the world. don't you know how much i love open bars you?"

as luck would have it, one of the moms in mrs nice guy's no-longer-new-moms group has a younger sister in her 20s saving up money for travel. perfect! not a teenager! a sister of a friend! a sister of a friend who has a baby the same age as ours, no less! sweet.

so the babysitter came by promptly at 7, just after i had fed, bathed and bottled the baby into submission. the child was dead to the world and unlikely to stir for at least 12 hours. the babysitter arrived with a burrito and a book, both good signs: she would not eat us out of house and home, and she's literate (jonathan lethem no less!). bonus: she did not appear likely to drink all the whiskey in the house -- i even tested her: when she showed up, i was sipping liquid amber from a highball glass, which clinked seductively with a single ice cube. "hello, babysitter. nice to meet you. would you like some water? juice? or something with a little more topspin, like, say, WHISKEY?" she opted for water. smart move, babysitter, you are a worthy opponent.

the baby was asleep, i explained, and even if she cried out for a few minutes, the babysitter was not to go in there. there was no reason that the baby should need anything until morning. and then it dawned on me: i am paying a grown woman to sit on my couch and not comfort my baby if she cries. a blind autistic ferret could do this job.

she was charging $12 an hour.

to sit on my couch.

and read.

and do nothing if the baby cries.

anyway, fine. a small price to pay for an evening of open bar, free dinner, socializing, open bar, dancing to awful house music, open bar and generally getting out of the house a little more often.

the office party was fine, not the strongest one i've been to, but it was a the maritime hotel, which was posh. and the bar was decidedly open. the meal, inexplicably, was pasta and sushi -- like marco polo on a plate, i guess. east meets west or something. it turns out another couple at the firm was paying their babysitter $15 an hour to do the same thing ours was doing. that, in a nutshell, is the difference between brooklyn and manhattan: $3 an hour.

because we are losers, we were home at 11. the babysitter was sitting on the couch, reading. the baby, she said, had not made a single peep the whole time we were gone. i noticed that SOMEONE (who i shall not identify, but whose name rhymes with "zabyjitter") ate a couple of our delicious vermont chocolate nut caramel clusters. grrr. and then came this awkward dance: we called the car service. the three of us stood in the kitchen awkwardly making post-open-bar small talk. we paid her FIFTY FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS (for, in case i forgot to mention, sitting on the couch) and when the car came it dawned on my wife and i that the babysitter was expecting us to pay for her ride home as well. screw that! we studiously ignored this unspoken epiphany and ushered her along her merry babysitter way. after the door closed behind her, mrs nice guy said "i think we were supposed to buy her dinner too."

well, we didn't. which is fine. because here's the final tally:

  • babysitter: $55 + 2 delicious vermont chocolates
  • ride to the party: $30 (mrs nice guy's firm paid for the ride home, allah be praised)
  • tips at the open bar (because if you do not tip the bartender working an open bar, you are scum): $10
  • dull, throbbing pain in my needs-surgery left knee from dancing to execrable german techno: priceless
thank god the dinner was free! and after paying sum total of [$95 + 2 delicious vermont chocolates - the ability to walk] for a free dinner, it became apparent that "getting out more often" is not all it's cracked up to be. it also became apparent that i should have taken way more trips to the open bar.


Anonymous CroutonBoy said...

That car service thing is staggering, isn't it? This is where the Manhattanites make up that $3 an hour on us Brooklynites. My recommendation: find a babysitter that lives in your building.

Congrats on making it out...and to the Maritime, no less. I'll bet they don't have changing rooms there...

1/19/2006 2:08 PM  
Blogger chelsyliz said...

Nicely done sir...way to brave the big big world (open bar) and spend some quality time with the wife (open bar)

babysitting is far more lucrative than i anticipated...note to self...

1/19/2006 3:24 PM  
Blogger cluelesscarolinagirl said...

I'll never forget paying 50 bucks to go see About A Boy. It was a good movie but after that I joined Netflix.

1/19/2006 7:18 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

$12.00 an hour!! The last time I babysat, apprximately 1 million years ago, I got $3.00 an hour. Clearly it's time to quit law school and become a nanny

1/19/2006 7:51 PM  
Blogger stay-at-home mommy said...

Ouch. In Canadian dollars, that would be approximately 1.2 bazillion. (ok, $14) I pay my (adult)babysitter $9 CDN per hour and I have two kids! 'Course, up in the Great White North, we aren't so crowded and therefore all have cars... If I had to pay for a cab for my babysitter, I wouldn't go out either! Way to brave the world, mng! :)

1/19/2006 8:12 PM  
Blogger deenster said...

Oh my...I babysat a lot in Manhattan between 1996 and 2000, and I usually got $15 an hour (back then!) plus tip (about $20 or so) plus cab fare (though I pocketed it and took the subway) plus dinner. And that the rate for one child. (Granted, I always fed, bathed, and put the kids to bed.)

Considering that was ten years ago, either I had a good gig or I'm a damn good babysitter.

1/19/2006 8:56 PM  
Anonymous said...

Love the Lord of the Flies reference. On more than one occasion I've referred to the scene around our house (when I'm left in charge) as something out of Lord of the Flies. In short, it usually begins with our boys running around the house in their underwear with wooden swords and ends with the pantry flung open and the boys eating whatever they please.

cheers, dad

1/20/2006 12:42 AM  
Anonymous Jujubee said...

mr. nice guy, I have to ask: did you have to Ferberize to get your baby to sleep 12 hours in a row or is my 5 1/2 month old just torturing me?

1/20/2006 1:19 AM  
Anonymous Bob King Neverland III said...

lol, good score!

1/20/2006 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Meredith said...

I feel your pain - our nanny costs $14/hr so the time we decided to go get some dinner and see a movie it cost us $70 in babysitting fees alone. I hear tell that there is a sitter that charges only $12, I need to find her!

That and our nanny regularly "borrows" our DVDs, books, and eats our food, including some fancy steaks we had in the freezer.

I may need to change my profession too!

1/22/2006 12:22 PM  
Blogger NapiSoul said...

I'm entering my fouth month of pregnancy and since the beginning have been missing the quality time I used to share w/my husband. Now, we have date night, and even though I've been sick each time we've tried to celebrate date night, I appreciate the fact that my husband makes the effort! Good luck w/your new family!


1/22/2006 1:09 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...


"Blind autistic ferret"...LOL

TWELVE DOLLARS AN HOUR? I have a twelve year old, highly experienced babysitter daughter who charges $6.00 (Canadian). (Her mother runs a daycare, you see. She probably knows more about babies than yo--most parents.)

I think it would be worth the plane fare to hire her the next time.

1/22/2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger hcrippen said...

this is where 13 year old babysitters come in great. Mine has taken a Red Cross babysitter class (so she can give CPR when one of my kids choke another) and I pay her like 5 bucks an hour for my three very unruly children. Awesome. Sometimes we tip her, like if she got beat up by my son.

1/28/2006 4:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a college student starting to babysit in manhattan. At home, I would charge my neighborhood families 7/hr...but here in the city, it's more than twice that. Why? I am a full time college student giving up her weekends to earning money that is NOT my parent's. Also, I rock as a sitter. I play with the kids, read bedtime stories, feed them, help with hw, AND do light housework....all with a smile. Good sitters are hard to find, but when you find them, pay them VERY WELL, because the nice ones are the ones who won't demand more, even when they need/deserve it.

1/24/2007 1:08 AM  

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