You always hear about these wonderful men who give up whatever foods their pregnant wife has to give up for nine months. I am not one of those men. I love my wife, but I also love food. If I were to be senstive, it would mean no more sushi, which contains a risk of parasites; blue cheese (listeria); coffee (miscarriage); peanut butter (allergies); tuna (mercury); rare meats (toxemia); or deli meats (more listeria). Most of these verböten foods have been eaten throughout history with no ill effects to pregnant women. (Of course, for most of history, the life expectancy was roughly 35.)
The other night, we were out to dinner at some hipster restaurant where the menu is printed in all lowercase and every waiter looks like the bass player from Weezer. Without thinking, I ordered hamachi sashimi. Daggers from Sarah.
She lived on sushi before she got pregnant, but now she’s not allowed to eat raw fish. A pregnant woman’s immune system is generally weakened, heightening the chance of passing along food poisoning to the fetus. Or something. All I know is she’s gone five months without sushi, a fact that doesn’t make her very happy. I halfheartedly offered to run down the waiter before he put in the order, but Sarah stopped me. “Oh, forget it,” she said. “I don’t care that much.”
By the time it arrived—a plate of gorgeous glistening raw tuna chunks—I was too hungry to feel much sympathy. I wolfed it down, stopping only for a moment to turn around and ask the waiter for more wasabi. Sarah was a good sport about it.
That night, when I kissed her goodnight, I got a weird taste in my mouth. I leaned in for another kiss, and she obliged. The smell of toothpaste on her lips was mixed with something ripe and salty in her breath that I couldn’t place. As I was falling asleep, I realized what it was: tuna.
* * *
Lately, we’ve been getting all kinds of advanced parenting advice from those in the trenches. Most of it is laughably bad. My favorites:
On babyproofing the house: “Don’t bother covering up the electrical sockets. Your baby will just take the plastic thing off on his own.”
On vaccinations: “Forget that voodoo. Take ’em to a chiropractor and have ’em adjusted. Here’s my guy’s card.”
On circumcision: “I have no moral problems with it. I just think a boy’s penis should look like his father’s.”
On television: “I don’t care if Alexis gets ADD: Dora the Explorer is better than any babysitter out there.”
On bedtimes: “What bedtimes? She goes to bed when she’s tired.”
On breast feeding: “Keep doing it until the kid is old enough to tell you to stop.”
Level-Headed Jonathan, who would only shake his head at any of the above advice, once told me a story that stuck with me. He was in a friend’s home when her seven-year-old boy, apropos of nothing, climbed onto his lap and began to fondle Jonathan’s man-breasts through his t-shirt. Jonathan, shocked, just sat there.
The boy, puzzled, turned to his mother. “Mommy, does he give suckle?”
Mom smiled patiently. “Remember what we talked about? Girls give suckle. Boys don’t.”
The kid nodded and climbed down, and Jonathan hasn’t been back since. I can only imagine how this child is enduring puberty.