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  NIGHTSPOTS

dateland
by Jennifer Parello
2006-10-25

This article shared 2235 times since Wed Oct 25, 2006
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I'm sitting at a bar in San Francisco with my brother. I have a glass of wine in one hand and I'm cradling his infant daughter in my other arm.

'Can you explain again why we didn't leave the child at home with a babysitter?' I ask.

He turns his attention away from the really drunk guy he's talking to and looks at me as if I'm insane. 'Because she's only a month old!' he says. 'That's too young for a babysitter.'

'But not too young for a bar,' I say.

'It's not a bar. It's a private club,' he says. We're at the Italian Athletic Club. My brother is a member of the club, and so is Francis Ford Coppola. My brother mentions this fact rather grandly, as if this justifies subjecting his new baby to this dump.

'And that guy is a member, too,' I say, pointing at an old Sicilian souse who is passed out on a broken down recliner, drooling on himself. My saint of a sister-in-law is slumped in a nearby chair, exhausted from the cumulated effects of taking care of an infant and battling the dark energies of the Parello siblings.

In my brother's defense, when he suggested we come to the bar, I thought it was a fine idea. But it slowly dawned on me that maybe this wasn't the best environment for a baby. I knew that my mother would demand a full report the following morning on what we did this evening. And I wanted it on the record that I voiced an objection to taking the baby to a bar.

Shortly after the baby was born, my parents dispatched me to San Francisco to 'monitor the situation.' My mother, who is too ill to travel at the moment, was concerned that my brother would somehow manage to ruin the baby before she got a chance to meet her first grandchild. 'I'm counting on you to be the voice of reason,' she told me.

'The voice of reason' is not a role I am naturally suited to, which may explain why I decided not to have kids. If I were to have children, I'd name them all after me and insist we wear matching outfits. I'd teach them how to mix cocktails and encourage them to pursue careers in the arts. I'd let them do as they please and then I'd wonder why they embraced fringe religions and married Republicans.

But the very traits that would make me a terrible mother are the things that will make me a favorite aunt. There's lots of stuff you can get away with as aunt that would never fly as a mother. If an aunt buys her infant niece a $300 cashmere sweater that she'll grow out of in a month, she's madcap. If a mother does it, she's deranged.

As I stare down at my angelic niece, I imagine all the fun we'll have in the coming years. I'll be the one who takes her to Disney World when she's still too young to appreciate it and breaks her out of school for jaunts to New York. I'll teach her to curse and finance her every stupid whim. I'll negotiate peace accords when she goes to war with her parents, and I'll agree when she concludes that I'm much cooler than they are.

But we've got plenty of time for bad behavior. Right now, as I tell my brother when he asks me if I want another drink, it's time for us to get the baby out of the bar and take her home to bed.


This article shared 2235 times since Wed Oct 25, 2006
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