My brother brought his one month old baby, Evan, over to our parent's house last night for some snuggling. He and his baby-mama just broke up, for a lot of reasons, but the catalyst, or at least one of them, was that she wouldn’t let any of my brother’s friends meet the kid. They split last week, and my brother was finally free to show his brood off to his pals.
We sat around oo-ing and ah-ing, pretending not to notice that the Evster (a wee blond ball of cuteness that I think looks an awful lot like me because I am a narcissist) has a seriously lopsided head. Like a smooshed melon, but adorbs. Midway through the evening, Matt L, my brother’s best friend since grade school showed up. For some unexplained reason, he brought a stripper with him. Not a friend/girlfriend/lover that he’s known for awhile who also happens to be a stripper. He brought a stripper he just met. To meet his best friend’s baby.
Let it be known that I have no problem with strippers. Some of my best friends take their clothes off for a living. I emceed a burlesque show last weekend and there were tits and feathers everywhere. I love poles and dancing, and nothing seems more logical to me than combining the two and putting yourself through nursing school. Even as the end to its own means, stripping can be a very feminist activity. You know me, you know I think a woman owning her sexuality is one of the most empowering things, like, ever. So, fuck yeah, ladies, twerk that shit.
Her name was Destiny. She had bleached blond hair with black roots and meth teeth. She was wearing a leopard print tube top and low rise jeans that were so low we could see her star-tattooed pubis mound beneath her potbelly. Her g-string stuck out the back of her pants about three inches, which was a real treat for everyone when she bent over, which she did a lot. She spent most of the visit texting and arguing loudly on her phone with a man she referred to as “Dave the Slave”. He was, she explained, “super dark-skinned, but not black” and “completely wrecked” over her.
After telling my brother that his infant looked “dumb when he's crying”, she informed us that Dave the Slave would be stopping by, and asked what the nearest cross street was. I was in near-tears from suppressed laughter by then, watching my brother try to handle this situation with diplomacy and tact. He has the sweet earnestness of a new father, the wide-eye nervousness that accompanies those first few months of parenthood when you think everything has to be just so for your kid. When you're acutely aware that you are now responsible for the spiritual growth and development of a whole human being, so you better get your role model shit together, fast.
Me, I've been a mom for fucking ever, so I just sit quietly snort-laughing. Ignoring my mother’s silent, glaring reminders to be tolerant and nonjudgmental, her hissed whisper that "there but for the grace of God go you, Emily". I'm not laughing at Destiny. If I've learned anything from this last year, this horrible, humiliating, excruciating year, it's that you never laugh at Destiny. You don't smirk at what the universe is trying to tell you, you don't roll your eyes and come to your own smug conclusions. You don't try to compel your story only towards fortune, doing your sniggering best to ignore kismet as it kicks you in the pants again and again.
I'm not better than Destiny. Not wiser, not smarter. I'm not laughing at her, at her fragile bravado or her exposed underbelly. No. I'm laughing because I know that behind my brother's polite smile, he is dying of the "I told you so's". I know he’s thinking this is EXACTLY what his ex-girlfriend was picturing when she said, “I don’t want your fucked up, weirdo friends around our baby”. I know he's having to swallow his own version of humble pie, and I know, from my own recent experience, how chalky and awful it tastes. For parents, this would surely be a "teachable moment", but I'm his sister, so fuck all of that. I just get to laugh and laugh, because that's what siblings are for, the chortled mockery of our mistakes that somehow lessons their devastation.
At the end of the evening, Matt left, taking Destiny with him. We never did get to meet Dave the Slave.