Chris called at 4:26. He was out of breath. “Sorry, man. I’m on my bike.”
“Jen just called. I think she just had the baby.”
“Alone. With Ethan. Be on standby. And find mom.”
I called my mother, left a message, then did the digital equivalent of pacing around the office. By five o’clock, though, I was too restless to stay at work. I walked into my boss’ office, flashed my cell phone and Blackberry and said, “I gotta run. You can find me if you need me. But I gotta run. My brother needs me.”
Fifteen minutes later, I emerged from 72d Street Station. The air was thick and damp. The city was moving more slowly than I needed it to. I wanted to yell, “Get out of my way! My brother’s having a baby!!!”
I walked to The Dead Poet, and nursed a Harp. I flipped absent-mindedly through Details magazine, failing to comprehend even one word. Halfway through the pint, the phone rang.
“He’s a boy,” my brother said. “Come on over.”
“Does Jen need anything?” I asked.
“Cream puffs,” he said. “And a six pack.”
I was off.
A few minutes later, I was climbing the steps at Chris and Jen’s, haphazardly untying my shoes as I tackled each flight. I knocked, and knelt, anticipating that Ethan would answer the door. I kissed him three times before walking inside.
Chris, Jen, my mother, a midwife, and Jen’s brother Steven were all scurrying around the apartment by the time I arrived. Ethan took a seat alone at the dinner table and began eating. I sat with him, whispering in his ears, “You are a special little boy, Ethan. And I love you.” Over and over.
I heard Jen call my name three times before relenting; I wanted her to be settled. And I wanted Ethan to feel loved. (I was once the invading party, after all.) I tiptoed into her bedroom, and spotted The Little Guy wrapped in a towel by her side.
“He’s so big!” I said.
Soon enough, I was holding The Little Guy, staring at his perfect lips, smelling his perfect skin, and kissing his perfect cheeks. After a few minutes, he began to shake as a good cry rose from within him. His mouth opened to a perfect circle. His tongue arched and trembled. And then the sound…
“Waaaaaaaah! Wa, wa, wa, wa, waaaaaaaaaaah!”
“Sounds like a Wagner to me,” Steven said.