Mindy Newell: Baby’s First Footprints
Friday was a miserable day in the New York City metropolitan area. Slashing rain, blustery winds, and c-c-c-cold. It was a day made for staying in your pajamas and just vegging out in front of the TV, watching The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy on TVLand, popping in DVDs of the original Dallas (nobody has ever played the villain we hate to love – but do – better than the late, marvelous, wonderful Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing), and eating too much of stuff that is bad for you, potato chips being my particular poison.
So what was I doing, getting up at 6 AM so that by 8:30 I could be walking with Alixandra and Jeff to the PATH station to take the train into the city? Why was I fretting that Alix wasn’t dressed warmly enough and that her hair was wet? After all, the woman is 33, old enough to deal with inclement weather on her own. Why was I feeling sorry for Jeff, who was struggling with an umbrella that threatened to either lift him into the sky like Mary Poppins or poke his eyes out? After all, Jeff is a Ph.D and a college professor and certainly wise enough to know that an umbrella turning inside out is the last thing you need on a windy, rainy early April day.
We were on our way to Alixandra’s third sonogram appointment.
No, nothing is wrong with my daughter.
The complete opposite.
I’m going to be a grandma!!!!!
So nice to be able to tell you all some good news this week.
I’ve actually known since the beginning of February, when I sat on the first sonogram, which Alix and Jeff* had placed on the backseat of the car for me to find. (We were on the way down to see my parents.) I said, “Oh, I’m sitting on something,” and fished it out from underneath my ass, realized it was some kind of photo, and tried to hand to Alix in the front seat, saying “I don’t think I creased it,” while my daughter and her husband cracked up.
“You’re such a dodo,” said Alix. “Look at it.”
I did. And what was my reaction?
Frankly, it didn’t register for a moment.
Then I said…
“Holy cow! Is this what I think it is? Is it real?”
Which only made them laugh harder.
A little while ago, Jeff came by so that we could exchange sunglasses – I was at their house last night, and inadvertently went home with Alix’s pair of shades. We chatted, and then Jeff asked me about the column, and I said, “don’t talk to me about it, I don’t have a fucking clue what to write about.” Yeah, yeah, I know, nice way for a soon-to-be grandma to talk, but hey, the kid’s gonna have to get used to me. (Only kidding, I will be toning down my use of colorful language around the child, at least until he or she is three months.)
He said, “Write about the baby’s first footprints,” which is what I said at the hospital when Alix and Jeff were given a picture of the baby’s…well, first footprints. (So tiny, and, yes, all ten toes are there.)
“But it has to be comics-related.”
“Unless you think of sonograms like a graphic novel.”
“There you go.”
And you ask where writers get their ideas.
John Ostrander has written in his column here at ComicMix several columns (and wonderful columns they are!) about the art of writing, of plot building and character development. Well, if you think about it, a sonogram is a story arc – complete with pictures! – that begins with a something that looks like a walnut – Alix’s words, not mine – and over a nine month period, follows the walnut’s journey, or metamorphosis, into full-fledged “babyhood.” You can even imagine the little walnut – I think I have stumbled upon a nickname for my grandchild, in the same way Pa Ingalls called Laura “half-pint” – quoting from Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces as he or she tries to put into words that will make sense to us who have forgotten what’s it’s like grow from a clump of cells into a sentient being…
“I had to climb a mountain. There were all kinds of obstacles in the way. I had now to jump over a ditch, now to get over a hedge…”
Or, to misquote Shakespeare…“All the world’s a page, And all the men and women merely characters…”
Alix and Jeff, you didn’t know you were authors, did you?
Just don’t call me Bubby.
*Alixandra Gould and Jeffrey Gonzalez are expecting their first child at the end of September. A Libra! He or she will need some balance with a bubby like me!
TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis