Aisle Of Wit

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My Girl

I don’t have children, and at this point in life I highly doubt I ever will.  I’m not exactly in the most stable stage of my life, and selfishly I had always hoped that if I had a had a child I would hope to live long enough to see them grow up, prosper and be better than me.

The closest things I have to that are my precious niece and nephew.  If you’ve followed this space, you’ve already met my nephew.  Since today is her birthday, it’s time you met my girl.

Rachel Lauren Allen was the first new member of my immediate family born since my sister and the last in any year beginning with a 1.  Parents frequently say that the first child somehow always has a leg up on the rest, and in this uncle’s case it’s no different.  The first time I saw her huge eyes stare back at me in wonder when she was a mere 10 days old I was hooked for life.  She bore some resemblance to my sister at that age, and as I shared previously the wonder of seeing an infant’s eyes look back at you with unconditional love–or at least curiosity–is life-changing,

My work gave me the opportunity to spend a decent amount of time around her during her first few months, and I took every opportunity I could to learn the little things about taking care of a baby that most young adults learn at a much younger age than I was at the time.  I was still piously holding on to the dream that I might someday be a parent myself, so it was especially important to me that I at least try to learn how to properly feed and change her, and kudos to my sister for at least trusting me enough to try.

And then, the grand slam incident occurred that served notice I had a really, really huge learning curve.

I had given Rachel a bottle successfully, she was happy and fed and in a particularly cuddly mood.   My sister needed a break anyway, so emboldened as I was I said I could handle taking care of her for a few hours.  So we settled in on her impossibly comfy couch and turned on Game 1 of the World Series,  Yankees vs. Padres in the Bronx.  I had always dreamed on sharing my passion for sports with a child, so I wasn’t going to let the small facts that she was still a toddler and a girl stand in the way of that torch-passing.  It was a little chilly that night, so I was wearing an uncharacteristically stylish velour shirt while we bonded.   I placed her on my rather padded stomach comfortably, turned her toward the TV and she was “watching” her first World Series game.

As the game unfolded, she would turn her adorable head toward me as I babbled incoherently to her about the players, the Stadium and the significance of the event and look at me with THOSE EYES with what I interpreted as curiosity, but was more likely incredulousness.  But then she’d turn her head back to the game and stare at the TV just as deeply, processing the images with the same attention to detail she has mined professionally.  A little while later, Tino Martinez hit a grand slam home run that broke the game open.  She heard the cheers, turned around and starting gurgling happily as I myself cheered the monumental event.  I seized upon the opportunity to lift her over my arms and playfully toss her (not TOO high) into the air, where the happiness and gurgling only grew louder and our bonding deeper.

Did I mention she had had a full bottle only minutes before?

Parents probably already have guessed what happened next.

In a manner that would have made Regan in THE EXORCIST proud, the contents of said bottle were spewed onto my velour shirt.  I had no idea a mouth that small could produce such a powerful and odorous stream of vomit.

The shirt was ruined.  The lifetime connection was cemented.  I considered it a small price to pay.

These days Rachel’s designing shirts, as well as other clothes, having somehow completed her degree at Fashion Institute during the pandemic,  After working during college at the prestiguous Kleinfeld’s bridal salon, the home of SAY YES TO THE DRESS (which she had a couple of cameos in!), she now has an office on Broadway in the New York City she loves even more than I did at that age, and she has a far classier life living it up with her friends there than I ever did.

And even in the middle of the pandemic, this masked warrior braved the horrors of public transportation and a still freaked out Manhattan to do her job, live her best life and even find a few minutes to grab a quick bite with a visitor from the Left Coast.

She’s got some really exciting times ahead of her.  She’s approaching the age where my life opportunities truly began.  She’s got a pretty cool guy in her life, so there’s always that possibility looming as well.  I’ll clearly never have grandkids, so while there’s no pressure whatsoever I’ll slyly hold out for the possibility that during a future World Series game, likely on hologram, I’ll have another opportunity to indoctrinate another family member into the joys of simply watching a game.

And this time, I promise to wait a few hours after a feeding to get excited.  Or at least wear a washable shirt.

Happy birthday, Rachie Law.  You may not be my daughter, but you’ll always be My Girl.

Until next time…