Famous First Words

I’ve never really been one to pay much attention to detail.  Case in point:  on St. Patrick’s Day in 1985, I showed up to Independence Middle School wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt.  I spent the entire day getting pinched by girls (good) and slugged in the arm by the guys (bad).  I feel fortunate that the subtle hues between forest green and steel blue didn’t result in a locker room wedgie.  Smarter folks might use this experience to learn a valuable lesson.  Me?  I’m still as clueless as ever when it comes to noticing the “little things.”

Fast-forward twenty years.  It’s early morning on August 1st, 2005.  The sun is just peeking over the horizon, and my tiny bladder is waking me up for the third time this night. As I make my way to the bathroom, I leave the lights off in hopes that I can stay half-asleep and crawl back into bed for a few more winks.   I have learned that if a guy wishes to sleep through these morning wake-up calls, he’ll swallow his pride, sit down, and pee like a girl rather than spending extra energy trying to hit the porcelain target in the dark.   Once my work was finished, I laid back down and slid under the covers.  Gabby rolled over and broke the morning silence by saying, “Hey.  Look on the table.  I left you a present.”

This was an odd thing to hear so early in the morning.  A present?  At 6:30 am?  I was sleepy, but still coherent enough to know that it wasn’t my birthday.  I rolled over to look at my nightstand.  A white object that looked like a digital thermometer was perched atop my copy of Alex Haley’s “Roots”, which I’ve been reading off and on for the past few months.  I grabbed the object and held it in my hand.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that this thing in my hand wasn’t a thermometer.  It was one of those home pregnancy kits that folks can buy for three bucks at the grocery store.  I had seen one of these before.  Gabby had purposefully left one in the bathroom one morning, hoping for a positive result.  I guess she wanted me to be the one to break the news to her, good or bad.  That day, I was a little saddened to have to tell her that we came up empty – partly because I knew it would be a mild heartbreak for her, and partly because I was really excited to be a dad.

"Look at it,” she said.

This test this day looked a bit different.  In the faint light of the early morning, I was able to make out two pink dashes on the test kit, midway between the tip and the handle.  “Another false alarm,” I thought.  “But why to they have to rub it in by putting TWO negative signs on the thing?  My manhood already took a hit last month!”  I turned off the light and said, “That’s not a very good present.”  I rolled over onto my stomach and covered myself with the sheet in hopes of getting some more shut-eye.

She blurted out, “Turn on the light and look at it again!” 

The tone of her voice told me that I had missed something. I turned the tiny knob on the lamp and it came to life.  When my eyes finally adjusted to the light, I noticed the little diagram next to the pink dashes.  Beside the diagram with one dash and one blank space were the words, “Not pregnant”. Beside the diagram of two dashes was the word “Pregnant.”

“HEY!”  I screamed.  “We’re gonna’ have a baby!” 

Gabby had tears in her eyes.  She rolled over, gave me a kiss, and rested her head on my shoulder.  We laid there in disbelief and joy for the next few minutes, saying little.  My mind raced as I contemplated the idea of being a father, worried about money, and wondered why the stinking pregnancy test people don’t use a “plus” sign on their little do-hickey.  Details, details, details.  From this day forward, I will never be able to live it down.  When my wife first told me I would be a father, my response was, “That’s not a very good present.”

For the next few days I felt like a kid who was about ready to go on summer vacation.  I had that butterfly feeling in my stomach, mixed with excitement.  I couldn’t stop smiling and looking at Gabby’s belly.  I knew something big and exciting was coming.  It held all of the promise of a pocket full of quarters on the long walk to the candy store.  At the same time, I was scared to death.  How am I qualified to be a parent?!  I guess I'll find out soon enough.  Film at 11.