Choosing Baby Stuff
"I'm Edmond," he said. "Who's the lucky dad?"
Drew and I looked at each other. He was assuming Jessica was the mother. We hadn't had to explain our family to a stranger before, and we weren't sure how to go about it.
"Um, actually, she's just a friend of ours and ..."
"THEY'RE BOTH THE DADS," Jessica replied, matter-of-factly. It didn't seem to me like the kind of thing you said marter-of-factly since to most people it was apt to be quite a surprising fact. Drew apparently felt the same way because he jumped in to explain. "We have a surrogate," he said, and when Edmond stared back stonily, he elaborated. "My sister was the egg donor. we're having twins."
"YEAH, SO SHOW US YOUR DOUBLE STROLLERS!"
Jessica stomped past Edmond, and he lowered his clipboard. sneering at us. I turned to Drew, who clearly noticed it, too. This douchebag sneered at the two dads. Apparently, we didn't fit the profile of the preferred Babas & Booties customer.
I realized this was our first real outing as a gay family, and it was an outing in both senses of the word. Most of the time, Drew and I probably "pass" as straight in public. Two guys, hanging out, joking and laughing, like a couple of frat brothers or a beach volleyball tandem. But when two men are shopping for a double stroller together, it's pretty clear they're more than just drinking buddies. I'd never been introduced to a stranger and outed in one breath like that. I realized this is what I was in for the rest of my life. When you have a baby with your boyfriend, you're nor going to pass for straight anymore, and sometimes, as a result. homophobia will stare right down its stuck-up nose at you. I looked back and forth between two strollers. These were the only two-seaters Babas & Booties sold, which should have made this decision easy.
"What are the advantages of one over the other?" I asked Edmond.
"Well, you could get this one," he said, shrugging, "or you could get that one." He rolled his eyes and waited impatiently. That was his comparison of the two models, in full. Again, Drew and I turned toward each other, both feeling slighted.
"THEY WANT THIS ONE!" Jessica announced. "YOU GUYS PICK THE COLOR."
Drew and I flipped through the swatches for about thirty seconds, before Jessica became annoyed. "JUST PICK ONE, GOD DAMN IT! ORANGE! WHO GIVES A SHIT?"
Edmond uncapped his pen and made a note on his clipboard. "Orange, then?"
Other than Edmond's attitude, registering for baby supplies was a blast. We could point at anything we wanted, and one day soon, bam! A UPS truck would deliver it to our door. It was like getting a one-time pass into the magical world where straight people live. Procreating was the key to a fantasyland full of free stuff most gay men would never know and all of it was delightful. Puppy-faced blankies, crinkly crib toys, musical monkeys that lit up whenever a tiny hand swatted at them.
The only thing more fun was the way Jessica beat Edmond down at every turn.
"Will you be registering for a crib?" he asked at one point.
"THEY ALREADY HAVE CRIBS!" Jerssica waved him off, then leaned in toward us for what she considered a whisper. "GET YOUR CRIBS AT BABIES 'R' US. THE FURNITURE HERE IS A RIP-OF !"
It was hard to be irritated at Jessica because her bossiness was extremely helpful. Edmond made a much better target for our anger.
"I guess we can skip this section," Edmond deadpanned when we came to the breast-feeding equipment. He drew a giant "X" through that line on his registry form.
As Jessica led Edmond around the store, I pulled Drew aside. "Is he being rude because we're gay?"
"Why else would it be?"
"Should we leave?"
"I'm thinking about it," Drew said.
"HEY! FROGGY OR MONKEY?" Jessica shouted from a few aisles away.
"COME PICK OUT YOUR TUMMY TIME MAT!"
We rejoined her and Edmond, who was now doodling disinterestedly on our registry form. I had officially reached my fed-up point. It was approximately seventy-five minutes, forty-eight sneers, and eighty-two heaving sighs into our visit when I started mentally preparing myself to shout, "I guess there are no fags allowed at Babas & Booties!" and then storm out.
"WHERE ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO HAVE THIS STUFF DELIVERED?"
"I guess they should send it to Warner Bros," Drew said.
Edmond looked up, suddenly interested. "What is it you do for a living?" Of course. He was probably an actor, and after all his condescension he was now going to slip Drew a head shot. Classic. I couldn't wait to see the smackdown Drew gave him. "I'm a reality TV exec," Drew said. Yup, there's the bait! Here comes the nibble!
"Oh," Edmond replied. "I was on a reality show."
"Really? What show?"
"America's Got Talent."
I struggled to suppress a guffaw. America may have had talent, but I was pretty sure Edmond didn't. I tried to imagine him performing in any manner. Juggling bowling pins while riding a unicycle. Irish step dancing. Eating fire. Nothing quite seemed like him. I was dying to know.
"What was your talent?"
Big shrug and eye-roll. "Drag."
"Yeah, I was also on Ru-Paul's Drag Race."
Okay, so we called that one wrong.
Finally, Drew had his opening, and he seized on it to start the Drew Tappon Talk Show. Edmond opened up about everything --- his drag persona, Moody Garland, his boyfriend, and how we were so much cooler than all the other gay couples who came in to register for baby stuff. We realized that maybe we had been the ones who were too quick to judge. Edmond wasn't a homophobic prick. He was just a prick.
I knew we'd encounter actual homophobes at some point, and there'd be Edmonds, too, who'd surprise us. This was our life now, and hiding wasn't an option. We were a nontraditional family, and we couldn't control how other people would react to us. All we could do was be ourselves and be proud.
Across the store, Jessica hadn't noticed any of this. She was still running through Edmond's checklist to make sure we had everything we needed. "UGH! I AM NOT LETTING YOU GET A WIPES WARMER! THEY'RE FULL OF FUCKING GERMS!"