We were sitting around the dinner table on a warm Topanga evening looking very much like the family of cops on TV’s Blue Bloods, digging into the best Irish stew ever served in America, when suddenly Nicole, still chewing, said, “Guess what? I’m pregnant.”
Everyone gulped down their food simultaneously except for Nicole, our granddaughter, who seemed to float in a space of serene detachment. The moment was still-life for a tick in time. No one knew how to react. Nicole was a put-on. When she was about 13 she came home from school one day and announced to her startled mother, "Guess what? I’m a lesbian!”
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With that experience in mind, I warned her in a deep stentorian growl, “No playing games, Nicole! Finish chewing and repeat your last sentence, slowly and clearly.”
She chewed, swallowed, cleared her throat and said, “I’m going to have a baby. Signed X-rays of the fetus are available at a small charge.”
I still didn’t hear her because of the second uproarious celebration by the females. As expected, they went berserko, screaming and laughing and kissing. Nicole’s husband Adam was grinning broadly at the success of his achievement, linking himself to other great fathers of history: Nero, Marlon Brando, Euripides, Frank Sinatra…
“I heard her,” wife Cinelli said, an expression of both joy and bewilderment somehow sharing room on her face.
“She got herself knocked up?”
“There’s probably a better way of saying that,” Cinelli said, “but I guess you don’t know any.”
The celebration was no less enthusiastic than if she had just scored a Ph.D. in procreation at Harvard. Tom Selleck, who plays the police commissioner on Blue Bloods, would have offered only a doomsday scowl, probably because that was his training in glaring at some school of method acting.
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It was difficult for me to process the news that the beautiful girl chewing on grandma’s Irish stew was going to be a mother. Wasn’t it just yesterday that Nicole, then three, was playing with dolls and pumping around the room on a toy bike and flashing a smile that warmed our world, followed by her sister Gracie, afire with enthusiasm, laughing and singing. And now one more on the way. Time moves with warp speed and relentless change.
I’m glad I’m still around to hear the news. While I’m not sure how I feel about being a great-grandpa, I said it aloud to myself and, guess what, it wasn’t too bad at all. The Bard grows older. I almost smiled.
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