While the country was on a shopping spree Black Friday to Cyber Monday, Paula, yellow pad and pencil in hand, spent the weekend making a budget for the baby she’d carry to school and care for this week. Two weeks -- to be exact. It’s a flour baby season at Paula’s psychology class. Every senior will come to school equipped with a self-made newborn doll that would be cherished, loved and cared for; and not to be abandoned in the locker. Sticking to the budget is worth half of the grade. Care and compassion count for to the rest.
To her credit, Paula checked with me first, “I need your hosiery for my baby,” she said. I murmured under the breath, “Take the one that look too bad to be true.”” No problem,” she said. I immediately sensed a turn of phrase was not a good idea. And sure enough it wasn’t, as I eyed a silky control top of my nude Givenchy’s stretched on the baby’s chest. “Noooo,” I released a scream, and contorted my face like Munch’s painting. This was my most expensive pair I was saving for special occasion.” Didn’t you see it in French lettering all over the box?” She gave me this look of innocent defiance: What are you talking about writ large on her face. “Oh, never mind,” I said. Too late, anyway, my Givenchy’s are a part of the dermatitis now.
She’d spent Sunday stitching the baby up. I‘ve never thought of a kitchen counter as a man-making surgical bed. But, the plump limbs got made first and were lying around. No efforts were spared to make this baby with quality materials: She checked the pantry for a five-pound bag of organic flour, wrapping it in my luxurious hosiery, its sleeves cut up and stuffed with white acrylic filling purchased at Michael’s. It was a mock-up exercise for young Frankenstein. Paula did the genetic mapping, stuffing, and sewing. The last one, in particular, left a lasting impression on her hereditary mother.
“What’s the purpose of this exercise?” I asked. “They want to get it out of our system,” she said.
The next day, she bought a few more essentials: 8 pairs of tiny socks, blue tennis shoes, a bag of white eyes with moving eyeballs, and a pacifier that she hung on a sterling silver chain. “The accessories are worth two points each,” she said. And by the way, his name is Bartholomew.
Batholomew was quite a creation: two eyes, mouth and a nose made out of gathered and pinched seam. She finished him with a sharpie-made chest hair, a touch of a projection into the future on my former silky control top. All was hidden under the blue sleepwear, monkey applique on the left breast. He was a smartly dressed baby: white socks with two-tone matching tennis shoes on the bottom. His plump hands and legs were compliments to good nutrition: weighed a prescribed 5 pounds and was a concrete piece of body to carry around. “ This baby costs a fortune , already,” I sighed. His only economical accessory was a stranded blue sock she used as a baby cap.
That evening, we were all glued to Batholomew: checking his diaper, rocking him to sleep, holding him on our laps. “It will be hard to use him for baking,” someone said. I am sure we can get it out of our system somehow. But if you were looking for me this week: I've been busy taking care of the baby.