“So, we’re having a baby,” he said.
My friend told me this while we were eating breakfast in a crowded place. I looked at him and almost dropped my fork.
He started happy crying.
“You’re having a baby?” I said.
He nodded, then cried even harder.
The number one rule of manhood is, you are not supposed to cry. I don’t know where this rule comes from, but I think it’s in the Boy Scout manual somewhere. As men, our fathers were stalwart examples who taught us to be stoics. Like like little John Waynes, minus the hats.
So you can imagine how uncomfortable I was when my friend covered his face with a napkin and sobbed in a public place.
Soon, the waitress came. “Is everything okay, sir?”
I sniffed my nose manfully and said, “Pollen.”
You’d have to know my friend to understand what a big deal this baby is. He has had an uphill battle for most of his life.
For starters, he has a speech impediment, which has always been a challenge. When
he gets stressed, he has a hard time making words happen.
We once took a community college class together, epochs ago. I sat beside him in class. Whenever the teacher would call on him, he would look at me and say, “Tell her.”
Thus, I was sort of his mouthpiece. I guess he’d been made fun of too many times to risk speaking in a classroom. As I recall, I made a D in that class.
I always loved his mom. His mother was one of those exceptional kinds of women you read about in “Guideposts” magazines. She gave birth when she was 17, in a home for unwed mothers. Then she lit out on her own and raised her only son in a 22-foot camper.
She worked in a salon by day; she attended GED classes by night. They lived in squalor…