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Week 11: It’s a Smell of a Town

If it’s summer and your wife is pregnant, don’t take her to New York. I love the city as much as the next guy, but walking the streets this weekend on our quick jaunt into town to visit friends, all we could smell was battling ethnic odors and fresh garbage. With Sarah’s sudden olfactory prowess, there was a whole lot of gagging going on on the Lower East Side.

Of course, that didn’t prevent her from stopping at a bialy place, a dim sum joint, a hole in the wall that served five dumplings for $1, and buying a quart of pickles, red peppers, and green tomatoes at The Pickle Guys, all within the span of four hours. The next day, when she woke up, she was obsessed with finding Afghan food, which sounded pretty ridiculous, but we were in New York, and so I found myself walking two miles in unbearable heat for some soupy aushak. In New York, every food-related wish can, and will be, fulfilled. It’s exhausting.

And the prospect of becoming a parent only serves to depress the hell out of you in Manhattan, because every woman between 30 and 40 on the streets has an infant, and every woman looks miserable. Disaffected and impossibly thin, they push their strollers around looking annoyed that this whole baby thing is screwing up their workout schedule. And those are just the nannies.

Then there’s the babies themselves. These indulged tyrants ride up Broadway in complicated triple-decker strollers that resemble small brownstones, looking even more jaded than the people pushing them. We saw one massive tyke holding court in a carriage the size of a Cadillac, his knees up to his chin, playing his Game Cube and telling his mom to take a right on Fifth Avenue.

This kind of conspicuous consumption can only demoralize you. Yes, we need a lot of things for this kid, but I’m trying not to get carried away. On the message boards, one dude took it upon himself to list all the things that new fathers needed to buy. These were his “absolute  musts":

• stroller
• sling
• car seat
• baby bjorn
• crib
• mobile for the crib
• that little wedge-shaped thing that prevents baby from rolling over when in crib
• bathtub designed for infants
• changing table
• pad for changing table
• pad covers for pad for changing table
• a cover/shell type thing that goes over the infant carrier and has a small flap near baby’s face
• burp rags (“worth their weight in gold")
• pacifier
• pacifier holder
• diapers
• diaper bags
• diaper Genie
• bags for the diaper Genie
• thermometer
• walkie talkie monitors for the baby room
• music for baby to listen to
• movies for baby to watch
• Doom 3
• 2005 John Madden Football
• iPod mini

A lot of guys seamlessly integrate their own toy purchases into their baby purchases. “I bought the baby an mp3 bear before he was born,” one slightly suspect DH said. “You load mp3’s onto a memory card and stick it in the bear. Then the pads on his feet act as the play/stop/volume adjustments. I also made sure that the stereo for his room was mp3 compatible.” My wife, by the way, would see right through this load of bullshit.


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