Sunday, January 09, 2005

Parenthood (ongoing) part 1

Went to parenting class a couple of days ago. Majority was single teenage mothers. The woman teaching the class mainly paired us off with other pregnant people to "ask questions about each other, break some ice and get to know one another". This was a little annoying, because no one there wanted to talk to anyone else. They wanted to learn more about stages in birth and how Lamaze works, because having a baby is scary and they've heard (and can imagine) it will hurt, but they didn't come to parenting class to be forced into uncomfortable small-talk while lying on squeaky, foot-smelling blue mats on the vast, cold, warehouse-sized floor. It was very awkward. I half-expected the teacher to hand out graham crackers and announce recess.
After about ten minutes, the teacher quizzed each of us, asking what specific things we had learned about whoever we were paired up with. The young girl that Maisy and I ended up with wasn't talkative at all, kind of angry, and only said things like 'yeah' and 'hmm' and 'I guess', which made it difficult to interrogate her. She had a dumpy way about her and seemed a little on the still-listens-to-songs-from-Disney's-Aladdin side. Really, all I got out of her was her name and that she worked in a bank near a 7-11 that had apple-pie flavored cappucino. She, when asked, couldn't even remember my name, though it was stuck to my chest with a mandatory 'hello, my name is:' sticker.
A little later, while laying on our pre-moistened blue mat, the teacher began the Lamaze technique. Except no, she didn't. She said that's what was going to occur, Lamaze, but then she started trying to have us visualize the beach. This went on for twenty minutes straight. It was like she was trying to fulfill a secret fantasy about being monotone enough to hypnotize people. She stood above us all and kept saying things like "Now you're on the sand, and it's warm, and the water is cool, and the waves are nice, and the sky is blue, and there are lots of colors around to see, nice colors, warm and cool colors, and there's yellow, and blue, and the sky is blue, and there's white... and there's red... and there's blue... and there's green... and there's brown... and there's purple... and there's black... and there's pink... and there's orange... and there's... there's fuschia."

At one point, I opened a package of gummi bears but doing so made a little plastic noise and everyone stared at me as if to say 'those gummi bears aren't welcome here' and so I got uncomfortable and had to hide the all gummi bears in my hat.

Well, the class went on like that, with the hypnotism thing, and eventually she just gave up and put on a video. It reminded me of high school, where my instructors mostly put on movies and various bottom-barrel instructional videos (but they only did that when they'd forgotten to keep a day ahead of you in the textbook). So, we're all watching the miracle of life. A maternity ward. A hospital. People in duress. Machines. Lots of fluids everywhere, most of them natural-made. It was the standard, money-shot video. The woman moans, sweating, breathing, surrounded by sentry-like doctors that don't speak, and then her vagina moves. You focus in on it because it moved. You watch, stunned. You've never seen anything like it except for three or four times before in other videos about it... like the others, this particular woman giving birth will be hairier than anything you've ever hear of... but then the vagina then goes wonky and the hair goes awry and you can't blink and someone in the class gasps. The people around you start muttering but the baby crowns and everyone shuts up. Then, as if a large, oiled balloon being nudged through a pet-door, the baby comes out slow, slow, then flying out mach 4 and all wet and a color they don't have a name for yet but it's similiar to German gelbwurst with blue and red splotches. The little lifeform then lands slippery in a pair of latex-gloved hands that are attached to someone with a doctorate. The woman falls back, exasperated. The doctors mill about but all you can see are their waists and legs. The camera angle shifts and they place the baby on the mother. She is amazed. Instant lifelong bond full of love and blood and instinct. The baby looks at her, totally tripped out. The mother kisses the baby. They're really tired. They may have just had a boxing match, they're so exhausted. A nurse comes and starts cleaning any particles and residues of the womb off of the baby's fragile little body. I eat the gummi bears and Maisy get's light-headed.

Also, this one woman's cell phone kept ringing. She got five calls during the two hour class, four of which were during the ten minute video. Everyone got pissed. She wouldn't take the calls. She'd just scoot quickly over to her purse, get the phone out, see who was calling, then hit a button that stopped the ringing (generally after about 15 seconds). She was also one of those people that have to keep their cell phone set to the loudest possible ring, with that horrible, maddening 'Reveille' ringtone, which is how they wake you up in military basic training. No one could figure out why she didn't just turn the thing off. Maybe she was hoping it would be a daddy. I, myself kept sneaking the gummi bears, guilty, but I couldn't help myself. I did muffle the plastic with the hat and, in forethought, I pushed the hat a few feet away from our warm floormat so the gummi bears wouldn't melt or get soft and bond to any errant hairs that might have been in the hat, which was smart of me. I'm a human being, and our power is opposable thumbs and heightened intelligence, and I have both and I'm going to be a great dad.

The class ended. We got in our car and left, completely depleted of any sparks of romance that may have existed in us prior to the video. Can't wait to go back next week.

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