In the dark of the movie theater, she reached over and took my hand and gently placed it on her tight round belly.
I guess on a normal day, in a regular life unfolding all around you without any drama or heartache, the gesture would just come and go as something sweet and cool, but not much more than that.
Not here though. Not in the life I’m talking about. Mine. Ours.
A thing you should probably know, I guess, for the sake of the tale, is that inside of me there are at least 10 or 12 men camped out around the hot campfires of my soul. Each one of them is uninvited, of course, but they are there and that’s all there is to it. Up until now, up until the last few weeks of my existence, they have pretty much done whatever the hell they want to do, truth or consequence be damned.
That got old for her, though.
And who could blame the girl, really?
I was born a child and I’ve stayed true to that, even here into my 40s. Two decades ago, when a lot of other guys were busy growing up and getting degrees and buying houses and boats and stacking loot away for down the long line, I was busy staring at the proverbial stars in the evening sky. Which: that’s putting it lamely, I know, but I’m not a poet either. I’ve spent decades staring at a poetry sky with a pair of fat brown eyes stapled to a dumb-dumb brain. I see the poems whipping by me in the wind, but a lot of good that does you later on in life, when you have the sawed-off shotgun of losing everything jacked up against your teeth, when you are scared and lonesome and digging for shreds of strength in the piss clam mud down along the bottom of your soul.
It’s never too late though; that’s what I keep telling myself, even though I know that’s not necessarily true.
But whatever, you know?
If you ever simply let go of real hope and the idea of changing and morphing into something different, someone better for someone you love, then you might as well head out one morning and wait on an uptown bus that you can dive under, because you’re already a dead man, I would think.
In the movies then, as Anchorman 2 ebbs and flows, I laugh when she doesn’t laugh. I notice that, too, and I clench my teeth. I hope she doesn’t notice it because these days everything seems like some sort of a weird test or a stupid sign. When hearts are hurting and confused and there’s been a hard bump or two lately, you tend to pick up on things you never noticed before. Then, when your radar suddenly clicks on after so many years of being powered down, well, the way I see it: you decide to mind the new electric blips as if they were text messages from the Messiah himself.
Or else you just lose everything forever.
Her hand pulling mine to her belly ought to be just a simple thing, man, but it blows my mind this particular evening and I stop hammering on my popcorn with my camel-chomping ways that bother her so bad that she won’t even microwave the two-minute stuff we have at home anymore if I’m around.
I go with it, of course, her hand on mine.
It’s no lie when I tell you that I go with it like I’ve never gone with anything before.
My heart throttles and I put way too much hope into her gesture, just like I always do. But there is no mistaking that it’s a thing, this pulling my hand in. Because it IS a thing and I know it and she must know it and if you were sitting right there next to us, dumping Junior Mints in your piehole, a stranger in our row, trust me when I suggest that you’d notice it, too. I believe that because it’s true.
Within seconds, her warm hand spreads out over the back of mine and holds me there and I believe I want to cry. A moment in time passes and I wait for it and we don’t say a word and I am such a damn tadpole of a man, so afraid to look in her eyes because I don’t want to make her think that I am reading too much into this. But I am. Some things never change and maybe that’s good.
All my life, I would eat popcorn like a feral pig right through a girl leaning into my movie theater ear and maybe whispering, “I love you.” But here, on a day when I know there is no chance in hell of me hearing that or experiencing the obvious fireworks that go with it, I want it more than anything in the whole world. More than anything in the galaxy. If she said it, tonight, after all these years, after all these ups and downs, I’d live a million years in an instant. But no dice.
Oh my God. I feel his tiny fingers or his feet or whatever flutter against the inside of his mommy’s skin. It’s an electrical shock. It’s real and pure and takes my breath away.
She smiles at me, looks my way for a second, but I’m too slow and I miss catching her eye.
Pitter-pitter-pitter. And then: BOOM! The boy, our unborn son, alive down in her womb, throws a hard jab at the outside world and nails his daddy in the palm. I can honestly say that it’s the best thing I have ever felt. And I have felt some good stuff. Two or three seconds later, he does it again, swiftly, deliberately, if you ask me. My jaw falls wide and our eyes suddenly meet for a moment, me and her looking at each other smiling as another round of karate chops touch us through the one thin wall that is holding this huge hunk of future back from us for now.
There was more movie after that, a bunch more, but I don’t know anything about what happened or how the plot unfolded or whatever. I’m as happy as I have ever been, even though I might be sizing it up all wrong, bud.
Even if maybe I am reading way too much into it, which/by the way/I’m not.
More Pregnancy on Babble:
- It’s About Time! Birth Control Pill For Men On The Horizon
- A Dad’s 12 Greatest Delivery Room Moments
- Pregnancy and Beyond: The 4th Trimester Bodies Project (PHOTOS)