Babyhoodby Paul Reiser
The classic New York Times bestseller from actor/comedian Paul Reiser, a book that the San Francisco Chronicle calls “an out-loud laugh on every page,” is now available in trade paperback for the very first time. For fans of Reiser’s long-running sitcom Mad About You, with Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria, for readers of comic/em>/em>/em>… See more details below
The classic New York Times bestseller from actor/comedian Paul Reiser, a book that the San Francisco Chronicle calls “an out-loud laugh on every page,” is now available in trade paperback for the very first time. For fans of Reiser’s long-running sitcom Mad About You, with Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria, for readers of comic memoirs like Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and “for the couple considering parenthood as well as for parents who are decades past their days of diaper changing…this book hits home and hits the funnybone" (Chicago Tribune).
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Read an Excerpt
In the Beginning
0kay, so here's what happened.
We're on a plane, my lovely wife and myself, sipping a tasty beverage, eating as many really salty nuts as we feel like, enjoying a perfectly bad movie together -- in short, having a grand old time.
We had been married several years, gone through the rosy early parts, through all the scary stuff that comes immediately after rosy, and navigated ourselves successfully through enough little ups and downs to land on our feet and know with confidence that we were very good together and very much in love. Life was very nice.
So we're on this plane, and across the aisle from us was another couple, about our age, traveling with their two children -- a two-year-old girl and a very new boy who, though tiny in stature, had a crying scream so piercing, it was annoying people on other planes. The parents looked like hell. No kidding, they just looked like life had taken them by the ears and twirled them violently around in circles until finally, exhausted, weakened, and drained of even the capacity to imagine joy, they were flung into the seats next to us.
The little girl was running up and down the aisle, tripping on people's luggage, screaming when anybody talked to her, and screaming a tad louder when everyone tried to ignore her and not talk to her. The baby was wailing literally without pause from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream Waters.
Somewhere over the midwestern states, the two-year-old took a couple of bites of airline macaroni -- and then reconsidered, shooting the remains quite dramatically onto her daddy'sjacket.
The mom, whose hair was graying before our eyes and caked with baby spittle and something else puddinglike, was spending the last of her waning energy trying to shield her eyes from her squirming infant's fast-flying fists.
When not occupied roping in their children or apologizing to the growing numbers of irritated passengers around them, the dad was busy either bending or reaching to find one of a truly frightening number of carry-on bags, collapsible strollers, fuzzy toys, and assorted burdensome baby paraphernalia.
There was virtually no conversation between the two adults. What words were spoken were in the form of barked orders, desperate pleas for help, and bitter assignments of blame.
"Why are you letting her eat that?"
"What -- she opened the jar of macadamia nuts herself?"
"No, she must have gotten it from the -- "
"Just take it from her."
"I will, if you just give me a second here..."
My wife and I, plastic champagne cups in hand, watched this circus for a good long while, then turned to each other and simultaneously said, "May the Lord protect us from ever becoming that."
Now, lest you think us unkind, let me point out that we're actually very nice people. And, in fact, we had always planned to have kids ourselves someday. Not Today, and not necessarily Tomorrow, but definitely Someday.
However, as we observed these people, we had all the reason we needed to push Someday back even later on the schedule. Watching this unfortunate display, all I could think was "Why? Why do that to ourselves?" Now that we had finally figured out how to successfully live together as two people, why would we want to jeopardize everything with a whole new human being for whom we'd be responsible every moment of every day for many, many years? I mean, the Couple Dance is tricky enough -- dancing as a threesome would have to be impossible.
Three has always been tougher than Two. Think of any of your famous threesomes. The Three Stooges? Look at the anger there. My bet is that before Curly was born, Moe and Larry could play together for hours without even a single poke in the eye. Huey, Dewey, and Louie? Donald Duck never had a moment's peace. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? I rest, my case.
0ver the years, my wife and I had each argued convincingly every reason both for and against starting a family, but had somehow managed never to share the same opinion on the same day.
"What if we want to travel?"
"You can travel with kids," I would counter.
"Not to Africa."
"Who's going to Africa?"
"I'm just saying, hypothetically. What if we wanted to pick up and go to Africa?"
"Do you want to go to Africa?"
"But, someday, I might..."
The problem with this type of argument is that on closer inspection, when you list all the things you fear you'd have to give up if you had a kid, you can't help but notice it's actually a pretty pitiful list.
"What else? What specifically are you afraid you're not going to be able to do with a kid that you do now?"
"Okay -- sleep?"
"Fine. Are we really going to forgo being parents so we can nap?"
"Maybe...And what about going to the movies?"
"You can still go to the movies with kids."
"Yeah, but not whenever I want."
This is where the argument starts to crumble: When you realize you would consider not having a child just so you could take an occasional snooze and be available to see Batman Retires the same weekend it comes out, you have to take a good hard look at yourself and acknowledge, "I am a shallow, shallow person."
Which, if you need it, can be a perfectly valid reason for the "against" team.
"Hey, we can't have kids -- we're too shallow."
On the other hand -- batting for the "maybe we should have kids" team -- we both saw the appeal in creating an entire new person who would be, in essence, a tiny "us." We spent a lot of time deciding which features of ours we'd want to pass down, which ones would be better off to skip.Babyhood. Copyright © by Paul Reiser. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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