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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

baby got back. and, alas, front.

went to the pediatrician for our sixth month check-up today. some interesting facts: this is the same pediatrician who told us not to treat the baby's hemangioma, to just watch and wait. she seems to have forgotten this and today said that it was good we were treating the hemangioma since it was on the baby's nose. i just about bit my tongue right in half -- if we had followed her advice initially we never would have gotten the laser treatments and lord knows how big her purple schnozola would be today. perhaps unwisely, i did not remind her of her previous counsel.

[as a side note -- been doing a little research on our child's type of strawberry, a nasal tip hemangioma, and it seems that baby nice guy is not out of the woods yet. the lasers have treated the tumor near the surface of her skin, but there is a deeper component that the laser cannot heal. this deeper growth may indeed go away on its own someday, but not before it warps the cartilage, distorting the shape of her nose. ready for an anatomy lesson? basically, at the tip of your nose you have two wings of cartilage that come to a point. our baby's hemangioma is insinuating itself between those wings and pushing them apart, giving her that WC Fields look that was all the rage 70 years ago. it looks like she may need surgery some time around her first birthday -- someone needs to go in there and cut the fucker out. we have an appointment with a surgeon next week. ugh. the thought of someone slicing her nose open to save it makes me bluer than Sylvia Plath on quaaludes. i wish i could offer my own face as a cutting board in exchange -- apparently the fact that they need to chop up daddy's knee (more on that later) has not appeased the gods of unfortunate surgical procedures.]

also, two other babies in the office at the same time as us today had hemangiomas on their faces. TWO! after i told our pediatrician that we're going to meet with a surgeon next week, she asked who we were going to see. i told her his name. she had never heard of him before. then, i swear to god, she IMMEDIATELY REFERRED THE TWO OTHER PATIENTS TO HIM. did you catch that? she referred two patients to a surgeon she had never heard of before! i could have told her that i was taking my baby to see Dr. Jack Kevorkian for all she knew! i mean, are you kidding? this is who is monitoring my child's health?

anyway, the rest of the visit went well. got some more shots (this time i believe she had her skunk essence, quicksilver and hemlock injections) and got all measured up. a few interesting stats:

height: 28th percentile (down from 69th at four months and 75th at two months)
weight: 73rd percentile (holding basically steady, down four points from two months)
head circumference: 16th percentile (up from 4th percentile last time, thank god)

so do the math: she's chubby, not as tall as she used to be and her head is getting bigger. our baby is turning into a basketball.

oh yeah. not measured: size of her ass. this baby has more back than betty crocker's got brownies. she's got a bigger ass on her than any baby known to man. her butt crack starts at the back of her knees and climbs right up between her shoulder blades. this kid has waaaay too much junk in her trunk. she's a badonk-a-donk billionaire. at the end of our appointment -- after airing all of our concerns, hopes and fears -- mrs nice guy sheepishly mentioned this fact to our pediatrician ...

mrs nice guy: i, um. er. i don't really know how to put this, but i do have one last question. her butt's really big. is it normal?
pediatrician: she's fine
mrs nice guy (yanking off the baby's pants): yeah but i mean it's ... just so ... big.
pediatrician: you don't have to show me again. i saw it.
mrs. nice guy: and?
pediatrician: she's fine.
mrs. nice guy: you sure?
pediatrician: positive.
mrs. nice guy: ok. great.
pediatrician: yup. she's fine ... and you're right: it's huge.

Monday, November 28, 2005

thanksgiving post script: a modest proposal (that does not involve eating babies but rather many winged creatures and some that are not so winged)

peekaboo, little birdie! who's inside of you?

friends. if you are at all like me you are completely obsessed with the idea of the turducken, even though you have never actually been afforded the opportunity of eating one. a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey! whoever first dreamed up this voltron-of-the-birds clearly deserves a nobel peace prize!

ah turducken, High Priest of Poultry, you are truly awesome. nobody doubts that you are the mightiest of all winged feasts. you are fowl at fever pitch, the plucked embodiment of a boneless consumer culture gone mad!


turbulent times call for flying at higher altitudes! surely we can do better! i mean, how long has it been since i first heard of you, turducken? a half dozen years? a dozen? and in that time has there been no improvement on you? for shame! do you think you are above betterment, turducken? did the Magna Canarda not stipulate that no bird is above the law? if we cannot better the turducken then, truly, the terrorists have won.

here's what i am getting at: why stop at turkey, duck and chicken? why not squeeze another bird in there? why not a game hen? why not a quail? WHY NOT BOTH?

ladies and gentlemen, let me be the first to suggest stuffing the turducken with a hen and a quail. let me be the one to introduce into our lexicon the ...

but is that the best we can do? surely there is room for improvement. let me take my cue from yet another bird -- the funnel-stuffed-and-liver-fattened goose. like our friend the foie gras factory, i am pretty sure we can get a little more in there. i think we can squeeze in a swan. don't you? i thought so. next year let's roast a nice ...


but this is, after all, AMERICA, is it not? this is where we strive for bigger, grander, greater, stronger and fatter. why not take the whole turswaduckenenail and shove it right inside a big ol' ostrich? that's right. i call dibs on the ...


oh i can go on, but i won't. what's that? you want me to go on? ok, i will. how about we take our creation and squeeze the whole Frankenbird right inside a different sort of animal? i am running out of large birds and the joke is becoming less funny by the second ... but aren't we leaving someone out? think. of course! we forgot the queen of all meats, that beautiful bovine who keeps us in burgers. that's right. i challenge you to find me an oven big enough to cook a ...


we could, if we wanted to, go hunting where the deer and the antelope play. you know what i'm getting at: oh give me a home where the Buffacowostrurswaduckenenail roam.

but then now we're starting to get silly, aren't we? you don't think this is funny anymore, do you?


anyone hungry for a


hah! ok, i'll stop now ...

... i'll stop, that is, right after i finish my slice of

HAHAH! and i've got more! i can keep this up for hours! HEY! where are you going?! come back! ... i'll stop. i ... i promise.
please come back ... i'll be good.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

what i did over my thanksgiving vacation, by mr nice guy

i have nothing to say about thanksgiving that hasn't been said a million times by people more eloquent than i. ours was lovely -- the baby got to meet cousins she hadn't yet met (including one cousin even newer than her); mr nice guy's parents had painted his childhood home a new color, which was a tad jarring; it was universally agreed upon that the baby looks suspiciously more like frere nice guy than her purported father; mr nice guy ate until he ruptured his left spleen. some highlights:

the flight over: was totally uneventful. the baby was an angel. very well behaved. at one point, i took her for a walk to the front of the plane where we came across a little old lady who was stretching her legs as well. we had a lovely chat. then she noticed the nose:

nice old lady: what happened to her nose?
mr nice guy: oh it's just a little birthmark that goes away.
nice old lady: my granddaughter had one of those too and it went away!

and then the bad thing happened -- an overly zealous stewardess joined us.

zealous stewardess (getting right up in the baby's grill): LOOK AT THE BABY! SHE'S BEAUTIFUL!
mr nice guy: thanks.
zealous stewardess (rubbing the baby's head! make her stop!): LOOK AT ALL THAT HAIR! MY GRANDDAUGHTER IS TWO AND HAS LESS HAIR THAN THIS!
mr nice guy (cringing): yeah, she was born with a lot of hair.
zealous stewardess (grabbing the baby's legs): WHY IS SHE STARTING TO CRY!? IS SHE GETTING GRUMPY?
mr nice guy: bites tongue so as not to say "oh maybe she doesn't like the fact that you're shouting in her face and vigorously molesting her ."
zealous stewardess: WHAT HAPPENED TO HER NOSE?!
mr nice guy (not able to drop the "tumor" bomb because the nice little old lady is still within ear shot): it's a birthmark.
zealous stewardess: OH NO!
little old lady: it's a birthmark ... that goes away!

damn you, little old lady! she did that again when a sleazy male stewardess -- he who had been too busy hitting on all the lady passengers at the beginning of the flight to get me a pillow -- came up to the front of the plane. he sidled up to us and was forced to look at the baby by his shouting overzealous colleague. she was all "LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL BABY!" he was all "what happened to her nose?" and i was all "birthmark." and he was all "oh bummer" and the little old lady was all "that goes away!"

the arrival: we picked up the most bitchin' rental car of all time. check it out here, that's the actual color we had too -- apparently that's the only color it comes in.

when we got to the charmingly repainted house, mater nice guy showered us with gifts: a pack 'n' play, a swing and an infant bathtub she had graciously purchased for the baby. absurdly generous, right? however. since i am a tiny bitch, all i could do was complain that the last thing i wanted to do after a six hour flight was assemble a pack 'n' play. miraculously, she did not banish me from thanksgiving forever.

thanksgiving eve: bizarrely, mrs nice guy declined my invitation to join me as i went to Trader Vic's to meet a bunch of high school friends and get crunked and then drive home ... in my bitchin' rental car (ahh, gotta love LA -- the only megaopolis that actively encourages crunk driving). it was there that i imbibed the best bad drink i have ever had: THE SON OF DR FUNK. the next time you are in town, buy one. supposedly this is where they invented mai thais. whatever. i say, go for the good doctor and stay for his boy. the bartender was this ancient polynesian dude with a ten-pound hearing aid who got every single drink order wrong. that's ok because after one SON OF DR FUNK you can't use your legs or see, much less taste the drink you didn't order.

thanksgiving day: mater nice guy made me wash the turkey, pull out its giblets (eeeee-hhheeeeww) and remove its neck before rubbing it down with a tangy mom-rub. aw yeah, hot nice guy-on-fowl rubdown action. then i met with hungover friends at a park. mrs nice guy and i watched them -- a bunch of slow, fat and tired 30-something year olds -- play touch football at the so-called 2nd annual pilgrim bowl.

thanksgiving dinner: baby nice guy meets the relatives, all of whom mysteriously had very strong drinks in their hands within .034 seconds of walking through the door -- runs in the family, apparently. at the dinner itself we went 'round the table saying what we were thankful for (i was, and still am, thankful for uncle Stewart's epic moustache). then we ate! oh! how we ate! the twin arts of degustation and epicurism achieved their apotheosis that night. how many courses were there? i lost count after my eleventh trip to the buffet table! "gluttony" you say? bah! the turkey, she was succulent and so well-rubbed. carving the bird was superfluous as the meat slipped off the bone if you just looked at it a certain way. the stuffing, a mater nice guy original, was made from a secret recipe that she will carry to her grave, leaving us culinary philistines to languish without (i caught a glimpse of it -- teardrops of a newborn emu and sun-dried possum skins figured prominently). the buttery mashed potatoes had been whipped into a cloud-like consistency by seventeen chippendales dancers! and the ten-pound pies -- oh so many pies! -- garnished with homemade bourbon whipped cream no less! we ate it all, people, and all of it was Good.

at one point uncle Tim and cousin Cassie stood up to perform a dramatic interpretation of king lear wherein goneril addresses her father's 100 knights (played by the rest of us sitting and snarling at the table). i countered that thankfulness-themed dramatic reading with one of my own: the lyrics to 1974's summer quiet storm classic Be Thankful for What You Got by r&b maverick William DeVaughn. the food was marvelous. then we played taboo. drunk.

the flight home: the baby did not sleep. at all. not for one minute. she squirmed, she fussed, she cried, she squirmed some more. it was clearly payback for being so easy on the flight over and then effortlessly slipping into west coast time. then we realized at about 20 minutes from landing that it probably also had something to do with the fact that she had been sitting in a giant turd for a few hours. so we changed her and then she fell asleep. then we landed.

and now we are home. and the baby still thinks it's three hours earlier than it is. she's still waking up every two hours in the middle of the night. screaming. i know what i'm not thankful for, i can tell you that much.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

i'm going to see the folks i dig; might even kiss a sunset pig

much like robert plant, i am going to california. unlike robert plant, i have no aching in my heart. much like robert plant, i am going because "there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair." unlike robert plant, that girl is my mom.

going home in the morning, y'all. first thanksgiving with my side of the family in almost 10 years. what a long strange trip. ever since 1997, i have been doing the turkey thing on the east coast. since 1998, it has been in vermont. and now the prodigal son returns, with wife and child. let's kill us a fatted calf! ok, fine. i'll settle for a fatted turkey.

last year i wrote an ode to the annual pilgrimage, a humble evocation of chaucer. my verse may not compare to bobby plant's brilliant wordsmithery ("the mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake as the children of the sun began to awake -- seems that the wrath of the gods got a punch on the nose and it started to flow" ... genius!) and this year i have much, much less free time on my hands. so therefore you will have to settle for this smaller offering. a haiku:

o, the raw horror!
airborne with shrieking hellchild.
save me some dark meat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

kinda like the portrait of dorian gray, only in reverse and with unsleeping babies and less gay

let's take another looksee inside mr. nice guy's mailbag, children! yay! what have people written to him lately? LET'S FIND OUT!!!

recently i received an awesome e-mail from a friend who lives in our nation's capital, on some hill that has apparently been named after a prominent domed building there. she had a baby about seven weeks before we had ours, so she has suddenly climbed the ranks from "College Chum of Mrs. Nice Guy" status to "This Is What Your Life Will Look Like In Two Months, Fear It" status. it is a friendship fraught with fear and awe and authority and respect and mostly fear. want to know why? here is the e-mail, sent on november 9, about her son, who i may have mentioned is two months older than our baby -- a frightening window into the future, a snapshot of our life to come:

-----Original Message-----
From: College Chum of Mrs. Nice Guy
To: 'Nice Guy, Mrs.'; 'Nice Guy, Mr.'
Sent: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 09:47:33 -0500
Subject: sleep is for sissies

I was catching up on my Mr. Nice Guy while my angelic child naps and thought I'd preview 7 1/2 months for you. Last night he went to bed at 7 pm, was up at 9 pm, 11 pm, 1 am, 3 am and 6 am. That is after stuffing him full of solids, both boobs, and a heaping helping of Baby Tylenol. Good times.

oh man, did that ever put the fear of god into me. but you see i am a smug fucker. deep down inside i thought to myself "heh heh, too bad for you, College Chum of Mrs. Nice Guy! my baby is obviously superior and therefore i have no need to worry about the petty afflictions that afflict mere afflicted mortals such as yourself!"

and then the bad thing happened. by "bad thing," of course, i mean the "our baby has decided to stop sleeping in the middle of the night and opts instead to scream until she vomits and starts choking on it" thing. yes, that happened. so i learned something: when College Chum of Mrs. Nice Guy sends an e-mail, treat every word therein as holy gospel. she is our latter day Cassandra, staring into the crystal ball of her baby's bald head.

so imagine my terror today when an e-mail with the subject line "kill me now" appeared in my inbox. no joke, people. here it is:

So, I was up last night with Baby College Chum while he had absolute meltdown from 1 am until 5 am, a new all-time worst night ever Chez Nous. (And do I know why? Not really. He has the sniffles, but no fever or teething or ear infection or anything else that would account for a 4-hour fit of hysterical sobbing. I mainly think the deal went south when I sent Mr. College Chum in to soothe him after nursing failed and that seemed to provoke a volcanic explosion of Extreme Baby Anger.) I was at a bookstore today (buying coffee, natch) and picked up a copy of yet! another! sleep book! The author is from the DC area and they had a big stack of signed copies so I thought what the hell, like it can be worse than what we're doing now. I will provide a full review upon completion of her 2-week sleep bootcamp. Or I won't because I gassed myself to death by sticking my headin the oven at 4 am. Stay tuned ...

oh i am tuned, College Chum, i am tuned. my reception is impeccable; i've got satellite dishes and elephantine antennae. never has anyone been more tuned.

UPDATE! mrs nice guy's college chum writes in today with an appraisal of the new tome on sleeping! here's her assessment, as of 14:57:09 on thurs, 17 nov 2005:

All I can say is that I just put him down for his 1 pm nap now (almost 3 pm). The new system is working so very well he was in completely unhinged hysterics for almost 2 hours. Good times.

as lim ladd is want to say: "looooord have merrrcy!" ... looks like it's your turn to kill me now, friend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

a day in the life

well here we are, six months into parenthood. as the old saying goes, time flies when you're having fun. sure, but when you're a parent time takes on a whole new dimension: the days are looooong but the weeks just melt away. i often find myself sitting here thinking these two thoughts simultaneously. 1) jesus i can't believe it's already november. 2) fuck me, i can't believe it's only 3 PM!

here's a day in the life:

3 o'clock in the unholy cocksucking AM: baby wakes up crying even though she is not hungry or needing to be changed. mrs nice guy and i begin the timeless game of Parent Chicken: we both pretend to be blissfully asleep long enough for the other person to crack. usually the kid will end up getting fed so she'll shut up and go back to bed

sometime between 5:30 AM and 7 AM: the kid starts the day. if it's before 6 we usually let her cry it out until then. if it's after 6, the kid gets changed, brought into our room and fed where despite our silent pleas she does not fall asleep again. she smiles, rolls around, pulls our hair. it's generally this time of day that she is in her best mood. 6 AM and in her best mood? i will submit this fact as exhibit A at the paternity trial, proof that this is not my child.

7 - 8:30 AM: mrs nice guy leaves the baby in bed with me so she can take a shower, pump, eat breakfast. as i drift back to sleep, neglecting the baby who is precariously teetering by the edge of the bed, my mind stretches into the past, attempting to pinpoint to the last time i enjoyed the luxury of bathing myself, and comes up with: august? maybe? mrs nice guy returns to our room to get dressed while i pretend like i had been awake all along and paying attention to the baby during her shower. look at me making my daughter laugh! she is in good hands! (speaking of laughing: the baby has this new hilarious tiny old maid cackle. she watches patiently as you turn yourself into a total imbecile attempting to get a smile. gradually, when she decides you have worked hard enough, she will crack a little grin. then you redouble your efforts, looking like a total asshole, until she goes "aheh aheh!" clearly laughing at what a freakin' chump you are, not with your innovating parenting skillz.)

8:30 AM: mrs nice guy goes to work and pretends to be sad to be leaving me and the baby, the two most squalid stinky dishevelled societal dregs in brooklyn, as she flees to Grown-up Land where she rarely endures entire days without a single conversation. once mom departs it is usually, conveniently, about time for baby's first nap. the only way to get her to fall asleep is by cradling her in your arms as you walk up and down the hallway until your toenails bleed. depending how tired she is, this takes between five and 835 minutes. when she's really tired, she begins moaning as you walk with her. HHHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNMMMMMMMM HHHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNMMMMMMMM! this is how she lets you know she's about to fall asleep. it's very cute and absolutely hilarious ... until she does it when she is in the baby bjorn and you are walking down a crowded sidewalk and people wonder what terrible things you are doing to your daughter to make her caterwaul in such a manner. this is when it quickly goes from funny to mortifying.

so she falls asleep in my arms and i put her down in her crib. usually, she wakes up the instant she hits the mattress and begins screaming bloody murder: YOU FUCKING TRAITOR! YOU WERE JUST GOING TO DITCH ME TO GO DOWNLOAD PORN AGAIN WEREN'T YOU, PERV GRIFFIN?! so we repeat the process and her moans become increasingly less cute and i put her down when she's asleep. i put her down on her belly because she can't sleep on her back so naturally the second i put her down on her belly she flips herself over and starts howling again: HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO SLEEP ON MY BACK LIKE THIS? WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU ANYWAY? i start wondering if mrs nice guy would notice if i swapped the baby for another one, snatched out of some Park Slope stroller from under an unwatchful nanny's nose. eventually the baby falls asleep (i am not above putting her face down in her crib with a blanket over her body, tucked in very tightly so she can't flip over and wake herself up. that's right: i strap my baby down in her crib. what are you going to do about it? call child protective services? here's their number: 212-504-4115)

10 AM: the child wakes up screaming in some far-flung corner of her crib. usually she is in some contortionist's pose and unclear on how to unfold herself. so i plop her on the changing table -- she loves the changing table. she smiles and squeals and grabs my wrist with both hands, tugging at it adorably as she attempts to eat my arm. so next she plays a little in her hideous exersaucer, then eats some rice cereal and fruit while i listen to NPR, an oasis of dulcet conversational tones. usually while important people hold court -- like council on foreign relations president richard haass opining middle east policy -- i make monkey faces.

and so from here on out the day unfolds in two hour intervals (damn you, dr. weissbluth!): two hours of awake-time between pseudo-sleeping -- two hours of play, food, pleading, soul-selling, face-making and looong walks followed by my daughter's excuses for "naps." i spend every minute desperately trying to entertain her -- i grimace; i make up awesome songs ("oooh, let's change your pants and do the change-your-pants-dance"); i throw her high in the air in ways that would make her mother nervous; i play guitar (it pleases me to no end that she at least feigns enjoyment of the acoustical stylings of mr nice guy); we go for walks in the park; we go for walks to the record store; we go for walks to get daddy cup of coffee #8,457 of the day; we go to the swings where we stand next to mostly nannies and the odd stay-at-home-mom, all of whom talk to my daughter, IGNORING ME COMPLETELY, even though of us both i am the only one who can ostensibly engage in conversation; we run errands (oh, errands, i do so love thee -- you give me an achievable goal, errands -- something tangible with which to prove to myself that i still have worth!); we practise rolling over and standing up; i show her the baby in the mirror, who she loves in a way that is not entirely natural.

all that lasts about 15 minutes. then we lather, rinse and repeat as needed until naptime (wherein we start again with the hall-walking, the baby-moaning, the crying-when-she-is-actually-put-into-her-crib). then i curse the gods for not giving me a child who naps every two hours like every other baby on earth supposedly does. what do parents of napping children do with all their free time?

[in the occasional event of Acute Baby Meltdown, i may exercise the nuclear option: the cats. she hearts cats. when she's totally freaking out and screaming and her face is melting off her skull, smoke billowing from her little ears as the crown of her head bursts into flames of rage and hate, i scoop her up and sit her in front of the cats. and she instantly smiles! she gurgles with joy, beaming with intense love! she leans forward and grabs two fists-full of feline fur and yanks the kitties towards her open mouth with all her strength, which judging by the cats' response is quite considerable. sometimes i'll just dangle her over the cats, who are usually found curled up in a little catball on our bed. they eye her nervously as she kicks her tiny legs and drools maniacally, ecstatic for the opportunity to eat them. eventually, babycalm is restored. (i admit, however, that this is probably a tenable solution only until cat mutiny ensues, which is bound to be any day now, when i wake up some awful night to find them clawing my lower intestine out of my slumbering body). in the meantime, the cats are great for restoring peace. cats. who knew? maybe richard haass should recommend sending my cats to the middle east to distract tensions out there?]

some time around 4 PM i call my one friend in brooklyn who still pretends to tolerate me. she has two semi-grown kids and no more babies in her future. she is back in school, so she is usually around and bribe-able: "i'll let you hold the baby AND buy you drinks if you meet me at the Gate." so we meet up at the bar on the corner where i foist my daughter on her until either the kid melts down or it's time to feed her again or i get too drunk to stand or, usually, all of the above.

and so it goes in two-hour intervals until mrs nice guy calls to tell me that she is running late and will be home at 6:38 instead of 6:35 PM. when i am given this news i usually reply with something courteous, acknowledging the fact that she is the main breadwinner and i am grateful for all the hard work she does to keep us in diapers: WHAT? YOU SAID YOU WOULD BE HOME AT 6:35! FOR EVERY MINUTE YOU ARE LATE I WILL REMOVE ONE OF YOUR CHILD'S FINGERS!

when mrs nice guy comes home it's bath-time and i hand over the child, who instantly becomes a gleeful, pleasant, placated angelbaby. i pour myself a glass of wine (elaborately pretending like i'm not already eleven sheets to the wind) and ... proceed to cook dinner before passing out, exhausted and unready to do it all again in the morning. and that's about it. so ...

think about that and then be utterly amazed that i ever have time to update. MARVEL AT THE SHIMMERING BRILLIANCE THAT IS THE TRANSCENDENT GENIUS OF THIS BLOG. or better yet ... send me a check.

Monday, November 14, 2005

two milestones

hello. so a couple special announcements need being made. a few milestones were reached around here. wouldn't you like to know? well sometime during the past week these two things happened:

  1. mrs nice guy and i realized that it has officially been SEVEN YEARS of coupledom between us. we have been married 3.5 years but we have been a couple for SEVEN. seven years! even better: we have been living together for nigh on NINE years. CALL THE POLICE, THIS WOMAN STOLE MY TWENTIES! i will spare you the sordid details of our origin story for now, but you did read that correctly: we were living together for nearly two years before boarding the booty train. but then we were living in sin. sin i tell you, SIN. hot molten sweaty (and subsequently rashy, itchy and inexplicably ulcerating) sin. you know what the ladies say: when you go mr nice guy you certainly don't go awry. some day i will tell you all the story of how we got together -- it involves late-night japanese television, a urine-stained couch, the x-files and a very bold woman.
  2. my daughter is six months old. half a year. actually, she turned six months old on saturday, so therefore she is now closer to one year old than she is to unborn. in short, she's got one foot in the grave. she's a spinster, a greybeard, a geezer, an oldster, a threadmaker, an old-maid. no wonder she's so wobbly when she stands. oh, did i mention she stands? no? well, guess what she does now ... go on, guess. give up? SHE STANDS. prop her up and she supports her own weight! she has no balance, granted, and she needs a little help, but obviously she is a genius olympic athlete in the offing.

coming next, to commemorate the first half of this child's life: a day in the life of mr nice guy, stay-at-home-dad (also known as IT DOESN'T GET ANY EASIER THAN THIS, KID). oooh, i bet you are just all wobbly with anticipation. what does mr nice guy do with his days? what is it like, hour-by-hour, spending days on end with a six-month-old psychopath? how often does our hero really shower? stay tuned for these answers ... and more!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

speaking of steaming offal ...

"I dig White Castle 'cuz it's the best,
but I'm fly at Fatburger when I'm way out west"

- The Beastie Boys

"Went up to White Castle for a chocolate shake
thinkin' bout a hundred thousand that I'd soon make"

- L.L. Cool J

it recently occurred to your hero that he had lived in new york city for more than three years (and visited the place on numerous occasions before that) and never once been to white castle! not once! despite a lifetime of exposure to the mythology enveloping this burger valhalla -- despite countless paeans from L.L., the beasties, jonathan lethem and so on -- this west coast boy had never gripped one of those wee sliders in his grubby mitts. not once, that is, UNTIL NOW.

last week i decided it was time to pop my white castle cherry. but somehow it seemed almost too easy to hop on a subway and head deep into brooklyn, so, first order of business: i added a certain little film to my netflix queue and bumped it up to the top. you know what i'm talking about.

minions of mine, i had never seen Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle before. let me put it this way -- roll over Citizen Kane and tell Godfather the news: there's a new cinematic sheriff in town! what a chef d'oeuvre this is! has ever a finer movie been made? let me answer that question with a one-word answer: probably. but who cares!? goddamn it if Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle isn't a shining example of the picaresque tradition -- easily in league with Barry Lyndon, Easy Rider, Sideways, Tom Jones. genius, i tell you!

and man, did it ever give me a hankering for a burger.

so on tuesday, a buddy of mine who i shall refer to only as Christo (who works for the city and therefore got an entire day off to do his civic duty, vote, and eat twee cheeseburgers) and i -- and baby nice guy, strapped to my unsuspecting cardiac cavity -- ventured forth. deep into brooklyn we went (sure there's a newish white castle on the fulton street mall in downtown brooklyn, but that just doesn't seem white castliscious enough, now does it? i mean, what would L.L. do?). to make this a true white castle experience we hopped on the worst subway line in the city, and plunged deep into the bowels of the borough.

as with any good road trip we suffered setbacks: when we got to the white castle on 31st street and 4th ave, we were stunned to realize that it was drive-thru and take out only! alack! no tables! where were we to eat our delicious bounty? we went into the parking lot to brainstorm. a cursory glance up and down the block revealed that there was easy access to:

  1. green-wood cemetery, which might have actually come in handy were we to consume too many burgers in one sitting, and ...
  2. an elementary school, empty for the day because it was serving as a polling station wherein no one was voting. so we decided to eat in the school's playground. the baby was a perfect beard -- if anyone bothered us for "loitering" we could say that we were taking the kid to the swings!

and so into the WC we went. we ordered 12 cheeseburgers, 2 fries, onion rings AND 2 commemorative white castle 85th anniversary coffee mugs -- which, along with our colorectal bleeding, would make lovely souvenirs. we sat on the stairs in the playground. the baby, who had hitherto been flapping her arms and smiling suddenly began channeling her mother: she scowled a look of profound disappointment for the duration of our brunch. the resemblance was uncanny.

and we ate! for those of you fortunate enough to live nowhere near a white castle, let me tell you something about their burgers: they are fucking disgusting. the apotheosis of nasty. WHY are these steamed dung-pucks so lionized? i mean, they're legendary! a whole folklore has evolved around them.

Christo, who attended columbia and has lived in new york at several points in his life, had been to white castle a few times yet couldn't seem to clearly remember a single experience: he had only been while stinking drunk. his theory is that these tiny, slimy abortion burgers taste just marvelous with a few drinks in your system. i sort of understand this, but in all honestly, i would have to be unprecedentedly shit-housed and then slip into some epic blackout in order to wipe the horrid stain of memory from my cortex. the "meat" is about as thin as a fingernail and half as nutritious. it's sweaty. it's brown on one side and bluish-grey on the other. there is a mucusy cluster of brown onion sludge atop a sliver of toe-cheese that velveeta would be too embarrassed to lay claim to. the best part of the burger was the ketchup.

i could only eat four.

as i mentioned above, i grew up on the west coast. we know a little something about burgers out in southern california. we have this thing we like to call In-N-Out. ah, delicious In-N-Out, i could use one of your thick double-double cheeseburgers (animal style, natch) right about now ... if only to clear the trauma out of my mouth. but it is unfair to In-N-Out to even mention their sainted burgers while sitting here in the same city where i ate at unholy white castle.

ok, so the beastie boys equate white castle to fatburger. let me tell you something, Mike D and Ad Rock and MCA (if those are your real names): i grew up with fatburger; i know fatburger; fatburger was a friend of mine and, white castle, you are no fatburger. just imagining one of those delicious bacon cheeseburgers, slathered with chili and topped with a fried egg -- eaten to the tunes of one of their in-house Rhino Records jukeboxes -- makes me long for home. and then, for the true connoisseur, there's Carney's -- the burger joint in a 1920s vintage railroad car. if anything out west can be anywhere closely compared to white castle, it's probably tommy's ... which is an egregious insult to the eponymous tommy. anyway, DON'T GET ME STARTED.

ah, well, i suppose i will always have Harold and Kumar, gods of celluloid. and you know what? it occurs to me there's probably a reason white castle's initials are WC.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

i eat too much

gott in himmel! people. let me ask you something. whatever your misgivings about the unfortunate jam-band tie-in and gratuitous hippie stoner allusion ... is there no better taste sensation ON EARTH than the ben & jerry's dave matthews band's "magic brownies" vanilla ice cream swirled with velvety raspberry sex and gooey chunks of chocolate brownie goodness? well, is there?

obviously, i mean aside from scotch.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

a mr nice guy exclusive

mrs nice guy and i have been mystified lately. the kid went from dozing peacefully all night long just a couple weeks ago to waking up at least three times a night, every night. it sucks. i cannot tell you how much it sucks. we have tried nursing her, changing her, ignoring her ... nothing seems to work. (this morning mom was irrationally angry at a 6-month-old infant, stomping around the apartment slamming cupboards and murmuring under her breath "mumblemumble dumb baby mumble exhausted mumblemumble meetings today," which was funny.)

so what's going on? the kid might be teething, she might be gassy, she might just be figuring out that if she cries, we will come. these are the main popular theories.

i have my own hypothesis, a mr nice guy exclusive, and i am going to share it with you: it's the diaper champ. seriously, you have to feel a little sorry for the kid. how well would you sleep every night knowing that sitting at the foot of your bed was a big bag -- twice as big as you -- filled with your own steaming offal?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

26.2 miles of cheering and jeering

today was the new york city marathon. as it happens, the course passes by our street -- the runners travel down 4th ave in brooklyn. we live half a block up from 4th ave, so it's simple for us to walk to the corner and cheer. people, let me tell you something: there are few things more awesome in this world that cheering a marathon runner. i don't care what city you live in, when your local marathon comes through town GO to it and CHEER the runners -- many of them make it easy for you by printing their names on their jerseys. shout their names. tell them that they can do it. tell them they are awesome. they are running 26.2 miles -- and i'm sorry but even if you are a professional kenyan marathoner, that is a fucking hard thing to do. cheer your local marathon. do it for the children.

ok, fine. the truth? two years ago mrs nice guy and i trained for and ran the wonderful burlington vermont marathon -- me on my stumpy little gimp legs -- and every time someone took the trouble to stand on the sidewalk to cheer us "runners," straggling behind at the 9-minute mile mark, it made our sweaty little day.

so to return the marathon karma that was bestowed upon us all those moons ago, mrs nice guy and i went to our street corner to cheer the runners today. we brought the kid. we brought the kid last year too, but that was easier since she was still inside my wife. this time it required a stroller and eight gallons of coffee. off in the distance we could hear the low murmur of the oncoming stampede: hrumbelowhrumbelowhrumbelow. and so we began to cheer. we cheered until we lost our voices. then we cheered a little more.

a note on cheering at marathons: clap, make noise. be as uncool as you can be. as i said before, if someone has their name printed on their shirt SHOUT IT OUT like you were in the ejaculatory throes of some wild orgiastic bacchanal and this person was the greatest lover the world has ever known: "GO GRETCHEN, YOU CAN DO IT HELEN! MY GOD YOU ARE AWESOME!" no one is a more enthusiastic cheerer than mrs nice guy. if you're running, she's your biggest fan. the slower you are, the harder she cheers -- don't even get her started on the blind double amputees waaay in the back of the the pack. she cheers for them like they were the beatles at shea stadium. so sweet.

anyway, as she hooted and hollered, i walked up and down the sidewalk, taking pictures and enjoying the scene (our street corner was at the exact seven-mile mark, not quite as cool as 8 Mile would have been. still, some of the fastest runners made it to us a scant 35 minutes after the race had started. think about that for a second. do the math. then hate yourself).

i returned to my wife and child, standing behind them to provide mrs nice guy with a good vantage point. as i stood there, soaking up the scene on this gorgeous autumn day, i overheard the douchebag standing next to me talking to his ladyfriend: "hey, lookit that baby. looks like she bopped herself good on the nose. lookit that bruise! she got clocked!" the woman he was with whispered in one of those whispers-that-everyone-within-12-blocks-can-hear: "sshhh. i think that's the baby's father" and out of the corner of my eye i sensed her motioning towards me. he took it in stride and said "yeah? well it looks like she bopped herself right on the nose! probably in the crib!"

i, uncharacteristically, said nothing. i was stunned, paralysed with hate. i was beyond angry. i was frangry.

later on in the day i relayed the comment to my wife. her response was excellent: "THAT'S when you should have turned around and totally whipped it out: 'yes, i am her father. and yeah her nose looks weird, because SHE HAS A TUMOR.'"

of course, she's absolutely right. i definitely had that impulse, but ultimately i rejected it because i would have had to deal with his apology or whatever. frankly, i didn't want to engage him.

but still, all of the above just goes to show: this is why i married my wife.

Friday, November 04, 2005

the conversations we have 'round here (or ... i need a chaperone, part deux)

hello, i'm mr nice guy. my computer died again. how are you?

actually, never mind. i don't care. mostly, i am just here to relay this conversation i had last night (and i would have posted it last night if a certain SOMEONE'S computer hadn't died a certain last night). anyway, it's not all that interesting, but since the last conversation i had with a mom struck a such nerve, maybe this one does a little too.

the setup: there is a record store directly around the corner from my house. (do you have ANY IDEA how threatening to my child's college fund this is? the fact that there is a record store directly around the corner from my home means my baby squidgirl must become an indentured servant, slaving over filthy dishes for years to pay off my frivolous Bohannon and Ray Bryant purchases until she pays for harvard. or yale. whishever.)

so there i am, wearing my child around my neck like the albatross she isn't, flipping through the "new arrivals" LP section when who should walk by but my neighbor (not my upstairs stylie-except-for-her-exersaucer-which-i-previously-misspelled-french neighbor, but my hitherto unmentioned downstairs neighbor, who i like quite a bit, a very nice mother of two boys, aged 2 and 4 ... my goodness but they are vocal in their batman enthusiasm). she and i make eye-contact as she passes the store:

downstairs neighbor: HI MR AND BABY NICE GUY!
mr nice guy: hello, nice downstairs neighborlady. where are you going with your laptop and without your boys at this hour?
downstairs neighbor: to ozzie's [a large and lovely neighborhood coffee shop that serves inexcusably bad coffee and charges SIX DOLLARS A DAY to access their wi-fi] to do some writing.
mr nice guy: you're in good company. you know who writes there on occasion? jonathan safran foer. i've seen him. apparently his $7 million brownstone isn't good enough.
downstairs neighbor: i've heard that. anyway. how is the baby? is she sleeping through the night?
mr nice guy: uh? um, she was, but she stopped. she wakes up at 11 and again at 4. it's annoying, but i'm not the one with boobs, so i can't complain too much.

downstairs neighbor: look at us! every time i have a conversation these days it's only about two things: sleep cycles or schools. gosh! i'm so sick of it. can't we talk about anything else?!
mr nice guy: WHAT!?? YOU STARTED IT! read the transcript! FUCK!

yeah, so. this is where i live -- every potentially good conversation veers into babyland and then hypercorrects back into schizo self-recrimination. anyone want to buy me a one-way ticket to topeka?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

i need a chaperone

a word to the wise: never EVER comment to a newish mother that her baby is anything less than big and fat and chubby and, most importantly, HEALTHY. mrs nice guy clued me in to this many moons ago. you see, shortly after the birth of our daughter, my foxy wife joined a mom's group (they meet once a week to commiserate over coffee, eke out some empathy and, i am just speculating here, have milk-squirting contests -- for aim, distance AND volume). i escorted my lovely bride to her mom's group one sunday and happened to notice that one of the babies had scrawny little chicken legs. i thought it was cute, so i pointed Toothpick Charlie out to mrs nice guy and she drew me close, whispering: "never call another woman's baby skinny! she's had trouble feeding him and is totally self-conscious about it." so i bit my tongue.

i like to think of my wife as my good angel. mrs nice guy's mere presence keeps me out of harm's way: i shower more often now that she's in my life, i have health insurance now, she reminds me what people's names are and who i should avoid talking to, i drink less when she's around, i tend not to fornicate with strangers so much these days. the list goes on. the point is that when she's not around, i get into trouble. now that i am on leave and away from a professional setting, the potential for getting myself into trouble has exploded exponentially.

this is a small example, but it'll give you an inkling. today i went to one of the many local baby bodegas in search of a brush for washing out bottles. our old bottle brush had died, providing me with an errand! (a side note: i love errands! an achievable goal, something that i can accomplish with a baby faceted to my ribcage, is always a welcome divertissement.) so as i'm in the baby supply store, a mom with a stroller starts smiling at my baby. this happens all the time. i am now used to strange people looking directly at my chest and smiling big googly smiles. it was weird at first, but i have come to terms with it. this particular smiling stranger has got a stroller, and i think there's a baby in it, but i can't be sure -- it's one of those strollers with a big awning and the baby is all wrapped up underneath and tucked away and protected from the big bad world and NO ONE MUST GAZE UPON HER, so there could be a toy poodle in there for all i know. anyway, the mom starts talking to my chest:

smiling stranger mom: so cute! how old is she?!?!?
mr nice guy: thanks. she's five-and-a half months. how old is yours?
smiling stranger mom: she's nine months! she loves the bjorn too! she saw me take it out today and got all excited, but i was like 'no way! i am putting you in the stroller!'
mr nice guy: ha. yeah, i bet at nine months she's pretty heavy.
smiling stranger mom: oh, 18 pounds.
mr nice guy: oh, she's a lightweight!
no-longer-smiling stranger mom: SHE'S IN THE 45TH PERCENTILE! YOUR BABY IS THE FAT ONE.

i should have known better -- lord knows i despise people who get all up in my bjorn and go "what happened to her nose?!" so, slowly, i walked away. although i admit i was tempted to tell her that, yes, my child scored a fairly high percentile in the weight department, but -- and this is perhaps more alarming than having a borderline anorexic nine-month old -- she has a minuscule head. FOURTH PERCENTILE HEAD CIRCUMFERENCE, LADY. you and your scrawny chickenbaby can suck it!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

you want a halloween post? YOU CAN'T HANDLE A HALLOWEEN POST!

i am sure the suspense is absolutely murdering you. "what," you are asking, "did mr nice guy do for hallowe'en?!" well, i'll tell you: i blew my nose. and also, a little bit, i coughed. you may have noticed a lack of activity around here lately. that's because some rapidly mutating bug located a hitherto unknown chink in my impervious antibacterial armor and infected me, and my entire family, down to the bone. we have SARS. we're in the grip of the grippe. got a touch of ague. we're dying. all of us.

it started last wednesday when mrs nice guy came home feverish. she was nauseous. she was so, so cold. after feeding the child, she promptly went to bed. then vomited. i don't know what you're thinking, but i can tell you what we were thinking: oh sweet merciful innocent kind and good tiny baby jesus who died for our horrible wicked ways, PLEASE don't let mrs nice guy be pregnant again. she took a test. she's not. she went to sleep for two days and woke up well. and all was right in the world.

oh but then. then! it seems mrs nice guy got off lucky. a day of discomfort and a day of rest. well. on thursday mr nice guy woke up with a lump of sandpaper and burning coal in his throat. then the old nose started to run like prefontaine (which, now that i think of it, would be a fantastic hallowe'en costume). oof. then he made the incredibly unwise decision of going to an open bluegrass jam session until 1:30 in the am (he left after he ran into his neighbor who had apparently just split from her husband and is now vigorously shtumping a much younger man). by the time the weekend got under way i was ready to admit defeat and donate my remains to the nearest center for rare infectious disease. little did i know how GOOD i had it.

dearhearts, my kid contracted her first cold. and i am the evil bastard who gave it to her. she sounds like someone pumped her tiny skull full of jello. she doesn't actually seem to mind being sick so much, she's just uncomfortable. oh yeah, and not sleeping. the other night she woke up every hour on the hour because she can't breathe through her nose and doesn't generally breathe through her mouth. so she pretty much sounds like this all the time: SSNXXXXXXXXX. and then she coughs. and then she gets pissed and then she cries. it's heartbreaking to watch. i wish i could have every cold she's ever going to have. (ok, maybe not really. but i would gladly have every cold she's going to have until she turns three. then she can have them herself.)

still. we're troopers, all of us. the full brunt of the plague had not yet totally hit us on saturday, so we went to a hallowe'en party. you know, for kids. this of course required dressing the baby up (i dress like a buffoon every other day of the year, so i see no point in hallowe'en ... other than to witness the annual baffling phenomenon of otherwise respectable young ladies using the holiday as an excuse to dress like sluts).

mrs nice guy, as i mentioned earlier, strictly forbade the baby hooker costume -- my logic, i thought, was infallible: if the point of hallowe'en is for otherwise respectable young ladies to dress like sluts, why not get the kid started early? convinced anything was better than an off-the-rack fuzzy li'l punkin suit, i managed to talk her into a compromise: BABY ELVIS. brilliant, right? yeah, i thought so too.

until i had to begin designing a baby elvis costume. (i am of course talking about the only elvis that matters costume-wise: bloated-on-the-toilet elvis.) have you ever tried to pull together a baby elvis costume? harder than it sounds. the closest i could get: a black onesie with flames shooting down the arms. pretty bitchin', actually. so i bought it. but then it was cold out, so i put her in overalls. not very elvis. then mrs nice guy forbade me from painting sideburns on the baby's face with mascara. not very elvis at all. so i hit upon a solution: put some blue suede canvas shoes on her and call her carl perkins! then i bought a prop -- the world's smallest guitar -- and tied a bandana around her neck. not very carl perkins. she looked more like woody guthrie, so that's who she was.

her guitar may have cowboys on it, as opposed to the famously scrawled THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS, but i have to admit she made a damn fine woody guthrie. but don't take my word for it. here's the original, lost in a sullen revolutionary reverie:

and here's the facsimile, sullenly wondering why she can't breathe through her nose anymore (you can juuust barely make out the bitchin' flames on her sleeve):

she totally had the best costume at the party. we have sunken to bottomless depths of illness since this picture was taken and did absolutely nothing for the actual day of hallowe'en (oh, i did have to lug her into manhattan to get her nose treated again, which was a delight). and going to connecticut on sunday was probably a big mistake. but i did manage to get her admirably suited up for her first All Hallow's Eve. i just sincerely hope she didn't get any of the other babies sick ... that would be very un-guthrie of her.

wherever she lays her hat is her home

on sunday we did the zipcar thing again and went to connecticut to visit friends who have three boys under the age of 4 (you read that right: three under 4. did your head just explode trying to visualize that?). the zipcar's name was moses. first mort, now moses. what's with all the jewish cars? many a joke was made at poor moses's expense: did you know that moses was found in a basket floating down the hudson river when he was just a wee hotwheel? did you know that in moses's trunk you'll find two stone tablets with inscriptions that read Thou Shalt Not Drive Without Insurance and Honor Thy Speed Limit? we were worried that at some point we would take a wrong turn and have to rely on moses to lead us, his people, for 40 years through the wilderness of upstate New York.

and so on. my, we're witty aren't we? anyway, we spent the day in lovely Litchfield with our friends and their three midget speedfreaks. and i realized this: our daughter has spent time in a different state for each month she's been alive. now in her sixth month, she has either lived, or spent at least a day stone cold chillin', in:

1. new york
2. massachusetts
3. california
4. vermont
5. new jersey
6. connecticut

baby was a rolling stone. who knew? nice for her, but exhausting for her old man. i mean, this is simply not a pace i am going to be able to keep up with. 50 states in 50 months? with an infant? i am going to give it a try, though. you know why? just for the pleasure of driving through mississippi and utah in a zipcar named Shmuel Ben-Zion Greenblatt.