Thirty Seconds with a Baby

cartoon-baby-images-and-wallpaper-14It’s a lovely day. It’s Friday at the end of a long week. The weather seems to know it, too, as it’s sunny and mild. Further, I have a half buzz from a gulaš lunch that was flanked by two beers and a Becherovka.

I am carrying a weekend’s worth of groceries up the hill behind my house. I am planning the remainder of my afternoon. Put away the groceries, read, take a short nap, then meet an attractive friend in the evening.

No immediate responsibilities, work done, the freedom of a Friday afternoon. Life could be worse.

So when I come across the baby, it’s sort of a shock.

The baby is in a carseat, which is in the middle of a path behind my building. It’s not making a sound. There is not another human in sight. I approach hesitantly and look into the carseat, the baby looks back with a casual “Hey man, what’s going on?” air. I look around again and ascertain that there is not another person in sight. Nobody. It’s just me and the baby.

OK. Let me just clear state that this is the sort of nightmare I’ve been having for about nineteen years. A stranded baby, a bag of perishable groceries, and the only responsible adult present is me. No good. Still, one doesn’t simply walk away from a stranded baby.

So I wait.

My anxiety resides on several levels. In the first place, what do I do if nobody comes to claim this baby? I can’t bring a baby home with me, I have a cat that sometimes needs to remind me that it enjoys eating every day. I can’t have a baby around the house.

And then there’s the vast opportunity for a terrible misunderstanding. What if nobody comes and then I pick up the baby and then someone comes? They might want to know why I am carrying around their baby and I don’t know if I can adequately explain myself in B1 Czech. B1 Czech, by the way, that drops to A2 Gallic French when I’m nervous. How can I explain that I am not a bad person who was stealing their baby? My mind searches for the vocabulary.




OK, I got this.

I look into my grocery bag and a head of broccoli looks back. Yes, I might point out the fact that I have broccoli. How many bad baby stealing people are carrying around broccoli? It seems unlikely.

The paranoid part of my brain (the part that has the internet) wonders if I’m on candid camera. Let’s see what people do when they come across a baby. I consider squirting mustard onto it, but I don’t.

But what if it’s not a prank, nobody comes, and I have to call the police? I’m still going to have to explain the coexistence of me and a baby behind an apartment building and movies have taught me that this conversation never goes well.


Oh dear.

The only experience I have concerning the pairing of mystery babies and single men comes from movies. A comedy film in which the happy-go-lucky, single, comfortable in his selfish lifestyle, bachelor (aka, um, ME) comes across a baby that changes his life. Of course, this is always quite awful and challenging for the man to begin with, but then he gets used to it, enjoys it, finds himself forgoing whiskey and expensive Marks and Spencer sausages in order to buy a pacifier, bibs, baby formula, diapers, and then he eventually transforms into a man who has a baby. A dad.

I see it all now and it’s terrifying.

About thirty seconds into my Biercian occurrence, the mother comes racing around the corner. I point at the baby and ask if it’s hers. She says yes and I tell her in bad Czech that I was worried. She laughs and disappears with the baby.

My afternoon plan is back on track.

Thank goodness that lady came, too. I don’t know the first thing about baby formula.

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