My Meat Baby
On three occasions this week, my wife and my newborn child have conspired to make me look like a psychopath.
This psychopathic tale begins on a Wednesday (as all good psychopathic tales should). Mila is sleepy having tanked up on draught milk, straight from the fleshy tap (she can have some of the bottled European stuff later). We bundle her into her buggy, pack her carrying sling just in case the milky sedative wears off, and leave our nappy strewn fortress. Our destination? A local Hungarian market. A place where moustachioed men go to sell their fruity, meaty and…er…vegetably wares. We arrive safe and sound, sleeping baby in toe, but as ever, we are nervous. Nervous as we have been fooled in to this comfort zone before. On various occasions of late, our baby has tricked us with her promise of being a peaceful, sleeping baby, and then BANG! She’s awake. She’s making a sound that I imagine a goat would make it it was being attacked with a cheese grater. People are staring. I’m mouthing sorry apologetically and then we sheepishly flee. On this particular occasion though, so far so good. But we remain sceptical.
A few minutes later, my wife is perusing the aubergines when our worst fears are confirmed. Mila is stirring. THE BRAZEN CHARLATAN! At this moment in time she’s only stretching, but we are all too fully aware of what this is. This is a teaser campaign. This is the calm before the storm. This is the beginning. This is Germany invading Poland. In a state of panic we bundle her out of her buggy and in to her sling, a trick that sometimes works. Mila lets out a big sigh and closes her eyes. We’ve done it! I think what might have been, if only Poland had a big sling in 1939.
“Honey!” my wife whispers. “We need to be quick. Why don’t you go and get the ham and bread?”
I silently nod my approval at this excellent, time utilising idea and push our baby-less buggy over to the meaty section of the market. Using a combination of pointing and grunts I successfully purchase a shed load of (what I assume is) ham, pop it in to the buggy and head to the land of bread.
The bread section is bustling with elderly Hungarian ladies. It’s packed and I see no way through, but remembering our ticking baby time-bomb I decide that I need to be ruthless and so stride towards them with a plan to use my ham filled buggy as a battering ram. I soon discover however, that the battering ram isn’t required. The elderly ladies see me pushing the buggy and respond with beaming, adoring smiles and cooing eyes. This must be what it feels like to be Tom Jones! They move to let me pass and I now feel like Moses parting the Red Sea, but alas, it’s short lived and within seconds I am engulfed as they then all huddle around the buggy. I’m drowning as they all peer in. Seconds later and the smiles are replaced with a strange look. At first the look is hard to decipher, but I soon realise that it is the look that people give when they peer in to a pram expecting to see a cute baby, but are instead confronted with some lovely ham. They eye me suspiciously.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m fond of ham. If I could only eat one animal for the rest of eternity, pigs would be right up there. But I’m not so fond of ham that I would pop it in a pram and take it out for a walk. My paternal feelings towards ham are at best, weak. But these ladies think otherwise, and sadly my Hungarian is not of a standard where I can explain the truth. I decide that bread is overrated and leave.
A few days later and the folks have come to visit from Spain. We have been to a restaurant. For the most part, Mila was well behaved, but half way through our mains our baby bomb goes off. My wife scoops her up in the sling and we begin our hasty escape. I'm following about thirty metres behind, pushing my wife’s uneaten chicken kiev in the buggy. At some traffic lights, people stare and then edge away from me. I again look like a psychopath who has taken it upon himself to raise some meat.
It’s now Saturday and we are hosting the in-laws. It’s late, but we decide that a walk might be nice, and so off to Buda Castle we trot. Twenty minutes later and someone is again attacking a goat with a cheese grater. We quickly pop Mila in the sling and the wife and the mother in law wander off to calm our frantic baby. I’m left with my father in law and the buggy and we decide to stop off at a little bar and wait for the three ladies to return. I carefully park the buggy by a table and we sit down. The waitress comes over. She gives us a strange look. It suddenly dawns on me that we are two men, in a bar, at eleven o’clock at night, with an empty buggy that I am currently gently rocking back and forth. We look insane.
I decide that I should wear the sling from now on.