‘Unless, perhaps, she is your own daughter’
I’ll always remember my very first Big-Time Ad Biz TV commercial. It was for Q-Tips, and was called “Still My Baby.” I didn’t even try to find it on YouTube, not just because this was ages ago, but because it was a pretty awful commercial.
It featured this mom who has a baby on a changing table and a jealous preschooler sulking alongside. To mollify the older child, she asks her to “help” by handing her a Q-tips Swab. Then Mom reassures the child (a girl, natch) by thanking her and saying, “Such a big girl. But you’re still my baby.”
Of course, we sarcastic wags around the Ogilvy office ran with this idea. There were scores of “Still My Baby” riffs around the coffee machine. For a singles dating ad: “Got No Baby.” For a custody lawyer: “Not My Baby.” For a birth-control pill: “No More Baby.” For an adoption service: “Pick Your Baby.”
But back to My Baby.
Yes, believe it or not, my baby, AKA The Child, is thirty. Today is her Actual Birthday, in fact. Yes, thirty years ago today (at 6:30AM) I walked to New York Hospital (don’t be too impressed; it was only two blocks away) checked myself in (pausing to lean against the counter and pant a couple of times) and five hours later — The Child appeared.
I was very relieved. Not only did she have all her fingers and toes and a head that was surprisingly dent-free, I was no longer pregnant.
Don’t get me wrong; my pregnancy wasn’t so bad. True, I developed an aversion to strong smells. I had to watch “Dances with Wolves” by myself because the only two seats together in the movie theater were next to a woman chewing Juicy Fruit Gum. (To see how much I absolutely hate gum, even stinkless gum — if it exists — see “In Outer Space, No One Can Hear You Scrinch”)
But I was tired — tired of being pregnant. I wanted to be able to shave my legs and tie my shoes and wear something other than a stone-washed denim jumpsuit that was the only thing that fit and that I told the hospital to burn. I used to say that Mother Nature made pregnancy last nine months because she knew by then you were no longer afraid of giving birth — you wanted that baby out even if she came out your nostril.
I have spared you the sight of me in my one maternity outfit. And you shall be spared photos of The Child being produced. Doctor: “You don’t want your husband to take photos in the delivery room? Giving birth is perfectly natural!” Me: “Doctor, I can think of a few other ‘perfectly natural’ things that I refuse to be photographed doing.”
Anyway. This is supposed to be about The Child and her birthdays. Before writing this post, I searched for photos of her Childness celebrating. You know, blowing out birthday candles and such. But there were precious few. As in, basically, none. When she was a schoolgirl her birthday always fell smack-dab in the middle of Spring Break — and we were always away.
Oh, we would have a cake and presents and so forth, but since there wasn’t a party, photos are rather scarce. (See the photo at the top of this post for a rare birthday shot, complete with crown.)
So, Dear Child, here’s hoping that this year you can celebrate Big Time. It’s not every year that you turn thirty, for heaven’s sakes. Dig out that crown, pop open that bottle, blow out those candles and dig into that cake.
But always remember: You’re still my baby.
Amagansett, New York. March 2021