Not just because we get old and bald and creepy and fat – sure, that’s gross, but that’s not what I mean.
The gross part of being a Dad starts right at the beginning, at the miracle of childbirth. It’s one graphically messy, mind-blowing explosion of excreted fluids you didn’t even know existed. Yup, it’s beautiful and spiritual and all that, too – settle down, I know.
But what a lot of people don’t tell you, and certainly something no one told me, is that right after the joyful, soul-invigorating glimpse into the majesty of God’s Own Creation Etc., there’s a lot of cleaning up to do. Worse than the Ladies Room at closing time, in a south campus bar. And you’re standing there without an epidural to make you smile at it. And because you haven’t spent the last ten hours in unimaginable agony, it’s not like anyone really cares if you’re smiling or not.
They also don’t tell you about the placenta – it comes out after the precious Miracle Baby emerges with the meaning of your very life in her little hands. The placenta looks like a good-sized eggplant, except it’s more gray than purple, and it has a sallow length of umbilical cord hanging off of it.
They go ahead and plop that in a nearby pan. Nothing miraculous about that, sir – that’s just kind of your daughter’s egg shell there. Don’t worry, you don’t need to name it.
I’m pretty sure that the reason you get baptized into fatherhood with a super spiritual scene from Aliens is that gross things are coming your way on a pretty regular basis now.
At this point, perhaps some moms in the blogosphere might be interested in pointing out how gross their lives are, too. And mommies, this is just going to blow your minds, but here’s the problem – I’m not talking about you right now.
I know, it doesn’t even make sense. You’re Johnny Carson and Daddy is Ed McMahon, I gotcha.
Maybe it’s even true – maybe it’s a lot more gross to be a mom. But you can quit ringing the bell, because it isn’t a race. I just have no idea what it’s like to be a mom, so I’m not going to blog about it.
Damn it, get off my back, you aren’t even in the room and I’m not even finished writing this, and chances are, I don’t even know you. How are you even in my skull, doing that?
Anyway, I’ll tell you about gross. Back when we lived in our big country pad, we had a swimming pool. Way out in the country, pools attract frogs, and then it kills them. You have to remove their little bodies from the filter at the beginning of the season.
I was headed out past the pool to do something fatherly, I don’t know what, and I hadn’t checked the filter for dead frogs yet, because we had only recently uncovered the pool. It’s when you open the pool and put chemicals in it that the pool starts killing frogs. Until then, it’s a pond, and frogs love it.
Kind of mean, now that I think about it.
Ah, but someone had thought of it. Someone had gotten in there with a net and removed the generous supply of dead frogs stored in there. And did they, you might wonder, bury them, or burn them, or even throw them into the forest?
No. They strategically piled them nearby on the concrete, for me to step on. Barefoot.
For therapeutic reasons, I’m going to come out and say that again. My name is Tom Chalfant, and one night I stepped in a pile of six or seven dead, bloated frogs.
I mean it was dark, and I stepped square in the middle of them, and it seemed like maybe I’d stepped on a plate of pasta salad somebody had left out there. Cold, slimy, things poking between my toes which upon inspection turned out to not be noodles, but instead little frog hands and feet.
You can’t unstep on a pile of dead frogs – there’s no point freaking out about it. You just pick up your foot, and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. And then you go about the soul-enriching experience of cleaning up the dead frogs yourself.
Because you’ll just drive yourself batshit crazy, going inside and asking who piled dead frogs out by the pool – none of them did, that’s who. And they’ll tell you that like it’s not only astonishing, but good news! They’re all innocent and the dead frogs stacked themselves! Yaaaaaaayyy!!!!
I could probably put together a fifteen minute montage set to wacky, banjo-and-violin music, of me getting puked on by children or dogs or cats or ostriches. Who needs a bucket when you got old Tommy C over here?
The preferred method of puking on me is to do so while I am sound asleep. You want to wake me up with your actual vomit stream, and make sure you find a patch of bare skin to do it on, like a cheek or a thigh or a hand.
And if you are the rest of my family, the first thing you should do is ask the organism doing the puking if it’s okay. Even if it’s a dog you found on the side of the road six hours ago – don’t worry about Dad. Puke washes off, and the shower’s that-a-way.
To be fair, yes, several of you reading this may have puked on me before I had children. Nothing to be proud of, you know – I’m not even sure why you would bring that up.
And you might be thinking, Tom, why do you care, you can’t smell!
Like that’s the only unpleasant thing about vomit. Let me just get you some nose plugs and the most nervous dog I have, I’ll be right back.
How about a maggot incident? Ever have a trash can erupt in maggots? I’ll bet everyone calls mom to handle that, right?
Hmm, the cat bit the head off a bird and then it continued hopping around the back porch for a bit, while little girls shrieked until windows started shattering. Who should we call to deal with the horrifically squeaking zombie bird?
Dead cat, dog, hamster, bird, chickens, fish, lizards? Don’t worry, Dad’s got a heart made of stone and nerves of steel. Let me just get him a container and some kind of spatula, he’ll be happy to put down his sandwich and take care of it.