February 18, 2009

Tony and Tina's Baby

This is a riff on the off Broadway sensation of the past 20 years or so, Tony 'n Tina's wedding. I've accidentally seen part of it once, and intentionally seen the whole thing once. It's an interactive theater experience, where Tony 'n Tina are a couple of Brooklyn Italian young lovers and the theater goers are guests at their wedding. I was walking the streets of NYC in the late 80s and found myself swept up in the rice throwing and just married station wagon with the bride and groom driving along. Anyway, it's a spoof on big Italian weddings, and it really is a hoot.

When I gave birth to the first Mini Fresh, it was in the early days of immense cost cutting measures by the insurance companies. Births were given 24 hours, drive by labor. I was lucky, I started my labor early, in a store while shopping, when my water broke. I thought I had a bladder accident, but it didn't stop. I wasn't due for another 5 weeks, so I really got an early start. We arrive at the hospital, did the birth thing, but that isn't the point of the story.

The point was I was up all night, my first child, I was exhausted, exhilarated and yes, more than a little terrified. The baby was still in one of those incubator things, she was a preemie and having trouble breathing. I really was trying to get whatever rest I could before they kicked me out of the hospital to try to figure out how to take care of that mini-person.

Alas, there was an empty bed on the other half of my room. Not for long. Private rooms were not part of the insurance package. Just as I was about to drift off to sleep, 25 loud boisterous Italians barge into the room, as they wheel the mom over to the empty bed. The blinding glare from the gold chains was almost as noxious as the cigars being passed around until the nurse told them there was no smoking inside the hospital. I will call the proud papa Tony and the proud momma Tina. I don't remember their real names, to be honest. But Tony offered Mr. Fresh a cigar and a discount on hair replacements, which was his line of work. Apparently, Tony figured that he was having sex with Tina the same time Mr. Fresh and I were conceiving and that was discount worthy. They had a girl also, so he must have felt a special bond as a fellow X chromosome donor. I didn't have the heart to tell him our baby was a preemie, and jeopardize the potential price reduction on a toupee.

The celebratory cigars were extinguished with a few expletives and the family started snapping pictures of everything in the room. I pulled a sheet over my head, praying to wake up and have them gone. Mr. Fresh squeezed my hand and said, he needed to go back to the house and let the dog out. Chickenshit. So I was alone with Tony, Tina, and their extended family.

Little by little, the family tapered off and the two proud parents had the room to themselves. I was invisible on the other side of the curtain, I guess. Tony asked Tina if the doctor really said they had to wait 6 weeks to have sex again, because he'd gone without for a few weeks already. She cursed at him and said, let's at least name this baby before we start another one. Then she complained that she really needed to smoke, she had waited 9 months for a cigarette, so hurry up and name the kid. Tony grumbled and whipped out the baby name book.

Call me over-prepared, but we knew for the past 8 months that we were having a child and that our baby would need a name. We had narrowed our choices down to one girl name and one boy name. Tony and Tina apparently just realized they would have to name the baby. Allison, Amy? Annie? no no no. She doesn't look like those names. None of the A names fit their precious little child. Barbara, what the f* are you thinking? Remember that slut Barbara who tried to feel you up at Cousin Vinny's wedding? F* no, no Barbaras! Nor was Brittany a good choice. ON it went. I was so relieved they settled on Carly with a C. I don't think I could have handled the rest of the alphabet.

Finally, Tony had to go make more hair replacements or something and it was just Tina and I. I was trying to make a little small talk, do some new mom bonding, then get some rest. No, it wasn't her first baby, she had two children from other men, but they were teenagers. This was her first baby with Tony and his first baby. Then she asked me if I knew where she could go outside to have a smoke. I didn't know. She started to head off, cigarettes in hand, hospital gown waving in the wind, but, apparently the nurse said she couldn't leave in her gown. She improvised and smoked in our shared bathroom instead.

Tina watched infomercials all night. Rolling the stations, periodically getting up for a smoke, and telling the nurse she didn't want her baby, this was her last shot at peace and quiet, she had months of feeding and changing ahead of her. I remember thinking how I wished they would let me hold my baby, but she was still under observation. I've come to believe that Tina was an underground operative for the 24 hour baby birthing lobby.

I couldn't get out of there fast enough and never complained about only having 24 hours. It was about 23 too long.


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