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Gabriel may have oversold my abilities, somewhat. I’m exceedingly grateful that he was able to deliver yet another comic strip, and I’m grateful to you as well for your patience while I have been welcoming my unbelievably beautiful baby son.
Craven sham that it is, typically the vile consortium of formula manufacturers and department store child photographers has already chosen the Baby of the Year by September, leaving their despicable agents to go on evil vacations or whatever it is they do. But there are times when a spoiler baby, or spiele-katzen, crops up ‘round November or so, and a deep fracture forks up their trained facade.
Elliot Jacob Holkins is just such a baby.
The doctor loosens his white coat. Is he too hot? He seems uncomfortable.
As seen on television, a row of X-Rays are held up to an illuminated wall with a series of clips. He removes what I think might be a Bic Ultratip from his pocket and begins to tap different parts of each, in a poignant way, hand shaking slightly so that each tap actually ends up being two or three distinct sounds. Tap tip tap.
“You can see here, where the dendrites are joined,” he says, in his bullshit doctor language.
I don’t really see anything, I tell him.
“Your son, ” he says, hesitant, “is a Snugglebug.”
I sit down in a chair, which I assume is his own chair, and he sits in the chair that I probably should have sat in if I gave a fuck about the medical hierarchy.
I ask him what it means.
“It means that he is the cutest, the wutest little Snugglebug in the whole wide world,” he recites, robotic, a white-clad bipedal dictionary.
Are there treatments? I mean, is there some kind of, I dont know, cream?
”No,” he says, piercing my heart. “You will need to cuddle him daily.”
He is quiet for a moment.
“Indeed, you may even need to huggle him.”
He tells me that his own son, Gabriel, was born on “nine, nine, ninety-nine,” the anniversary of the Dreamcast launch. He stands before me on “eleven, twenty-two, two-thousand five,” which he admits doesn’t have the same ring, but he fairly exerts himself pounding home the significance.
It’s the launch day of the 360.
I dimly recall that there is such a thing as a “three sixty,” and that it is a thing which can be launched. So I’m told.
“I know you don’t believe in a higher power, or whatever. But God damn, man,” he spits, exasperated. “Come on.”
I am not trying to jostle for primacy over the birth act, the utter valor of which is indelible - I’m fairly certain the credit is going to the right people. There is, however, a parallel experience that I never hear much about, something amazing and profound about the helplessness, the desperation of events which are perhaps a million long miles beyond your control. I just want to find other fathers and, looking at them across the aisles in the grocery store, hold my right fist aloft. I am with you.
Let me suggest that the hilarious episode of Three’s Company which depicts a human birth is not sufficient to prepare a man for the genuine article. I can tell you that Brenna managed this shit like some kind of fucking Amazon warrior priestess. I told her that she probably just had indigestion, even when she was shuddering over a holiday display at Fred Meyer. So it’s good that somebody had their shit together.
They handed him to me, eventually. Not first, now - that’s not done. The psychological weight of him nearly shattered my legs. This must have been how Ultra Magnus felt, I thought, when Optimus Prime gave him the Matrix of Leadership.
I very nearly buckled. Not struck dumb, but struck, as a string might be struck, into sound:
It’s me, I said. I’m the one who sang to you.