We should’ve left the moment that damn bus pulled up. It’s so easy to see that now.
When what I now know was a Jack and Jill bachelorette/bachelor party, dressed as pirates, exited the bus, walked out into broad daylight, and collectively sounded a drunken war cry (Whoo!), I should’ve sprang into action. I should’ve suggested we round up the group – four adults and three children under the age of five – and split.
But we were having so much fun. At the time, I remember thinking, “Maybe we can co-exist peacefully with the pirates.” Me, my wife, and our five-month-old daughter spent the day with our friends, Jesse and Christine, and their two kids, touring wineries in the Finger Lakes town of Seneca. We drank some great wine, ate some great food. I even pulled off wearing a fedora…or so I thought.
It was our first attempt at having real grown-up fun with a baby in tow, and it was going perfectly. Until that bus pulled up. We may have escaped unscathed if I didn’t have to pee.
My daughter was sleeping soundly in the ErgoBaby360 when my bladder checked in: “Hey dude, you’ve been drinking casually for the past few hours, and if you don’t head to the bathroom right now, I’m going to ruin your jeans, and your day.”
One of the selling points of baby carriers is the freedom they offer. Users can securely transport their little ones from place to place with full access to their upper extremities to do things like empty the dishwasher, heat up a bottle, or aim their package at a lower-than-normal urinal in a Finger Lakes winery bathroom.
That’s what I was doing when a drunken pirate from the Jack and Jill party stumbled in and wobbled over to the urinal right next to me.
These days, most standing urinals in the men’s room have some type of partition between toilets to offer protection from poor-aiming pee-ers. Or maybe it’s for privacy. I’m not entirely sure why the partitions are there. All I know is this particular bathroom didn’t have any. An important detail.
See, when this inebriated pirate started peeing, he began swaying like Stevie Wonder, looking everywhere and not seeing anything. That is, not seeing anything until his gaze focused right on the ErgoBaby360, an accessory that he probably wouldn’t have noticed if a partition had been there.
“Holy shit, dude! You’ve got a baby!” the pirate exclaimed. When he attempted to talk and urinate at the same time, the swaying became more exaggerated. He appeared dangerously close to tipping over.
“Yep,” I responded, rushing to finish, zip up my fly, and make a hasty exit.
“That’s fucking amazing, dude! A baby! A goddamn baby! And you’re still doing it, man. You’re still out here partying. I give you so much credit, dude, so much credit.”
The pirate was beside himself with joy.
“Thanks, man,” I offered, trying to will myself to stop the pee early.
“I just got engaged myself, man,” the pirate confided. “I can’t wait to settle down, start my family, have a bunch of kids, you know what I’m saying?”
Before I had a chance to answer, the pirate did something irreversible. He reached over in my general direction with a sweeping and unsteady gesture to make direct contact.
Looking back on the encounter, I believe the pirate meant to slap me on the back – a good job gesture appropriate in limited situations, like a little league coach pulling his pitcher after a disastrous inning, but certainly not in a urinal-to-urinal conversation where “a goddamn baby” is involved.
Regardless of his intentions, the pirate missed badly. Instead of my back, he accidentally clipped my fedora and sent it to the floor at my feet.
Despite my protests, the pirate got down on his knees in front of me to retrieve the fedora, a task he struggled mightily with. He kept alternating between trying to pick it up without making any contact and turning up toward me to apologize profusely. This created a jerky type of bobbing motion.
At that precise moment, someone entered the men’s room to find a grown man on his knees, bobbing around spastically in front of another grown man – a grown man who happened to have a baby strapped to his chest via the wonders of the ErgoBaby 360.
When the pirate noticed we had a visitor, he said the one thing you should never say in these types of situations: “Wait, it’s not what it looks like.”
The pirate never got a chance to explain what was happening, because the man turned around and walked right out.
Years from now, I hope to return to the small town of Seneca and stumble upon a local retelling the story:
“On my life, Horace, this actually happened. Back in ’16, I walk into the men’s room, and I see fella in front of a urinal, like you do when you pee. This fella is carrying a baby in one of those Ergo baby carriers they used to make, but get this…. On his knees in front of the fella with the baby is another fella, and he’s doing god knows what. I tell ya, people will get it on anywhere these days, Horace.”
Even if that never happens, I learned a valuable lesson that day: You can never get away with wearing a fedora. Sooner or later, in one form or another, the decision comes back to bite you.