Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Damnedest Thing


I'm going to tell you about something. It's the damnedest thing. Most people probably don't even think it's the damnedest thing, because they've gotten used to it, and I'm sorry for them. They've gone way past being thrilled with the orange in the Christmas stocking and are all the way up to being bored to tears with the mound of whizbang toys under the tree. But this is the damnedest thing.

Not all that long ago if you had a baby, nobody knew about it except the folks in your cave, or the next farmstead over. Maybe some of your family took off for the hinterlands years ago and you're lucky if you ever get a letter, scrawled out by candlelight and stuck hopefully in a passing saddlebag. You might not even want to write to them about your new baby because by the time they
get the letter it could have been taken by the yellow fever, or one of the other colored fevers.

Even at the time I was born, and for quite a few decades after, people had to wait for the baby to hit air before anyone knew a thing about it. First thing anyone said, including the woman who'd been harboring it all those months, was "what is it?" Like maybe it could have been a badger or a hamster or something. Oh, some busybody might have made pronouncements about the nature of the baby in utero by dangling a threaded needle over it, and declaring it was a boy if it swung in a straight line, or a girl if it swung in a circle, but that's totally in Ouija territory, and just as accurate. Mom would send out a batch of pastel greeting cards to her home-town friends with a big-eyed baby painted on the front and "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!" printed inside, and the closer family members would get a black and white photograph tucked inside too, of a squinty and irritable-looking critter that in no way resembled the adorable infant on the front.

Yes, every now and then, but not that often, the question "what is it?" would be answered with a rumpled smile and a quirked eyebrow, because the answer was complicated and not that clear, and the infant would be handed back to the doctor with the instruction to "make it regular," and there would be decisions and incisions, and maybe everything would work out, but not always. Hallmark failed to produce cards that proclaimed "We don't know what it is!" But maybe they do now. Things is diff'rent.

Still, when I was born, mail service was quick and cheap, and Grandma and the relatives could rely on getting updates throughout the year and maybe another photograph at Christmas, but nobody expected to be kept apprised of all the details. That is how a child who would be over the moon to receive a stuffed animal, any stuffed animal, kept getting dolls and sweater sets from the aunts. Not enough information. But that's just the way it was.

These days, there is nothing on this planet that doesn't fit in our pockets. Not for Dave and me--we're back'ards. We're not as smart as our phones and we get back at them by leaving them behind most of the time. We live in a constant state of underinformation that would quake a younger soul. But let me tell you about this thing. 

There we are on a mountain. We've hiked eight miles in from the nearest road. We're peering over a ledge into a ravine at a river that threads all the way down from a glacier in a mighty peak, and there's a tweedling coming out of Dave's shorts, and it is a photo of our niece and her brand new baby, her beautiful much-anticipated much hoped-for actual baby girl, in pixels shot through the ether from a thousand miles away and reassembled in Dave's phone in the wilderness, and we burst into tears at all the beauty, and all I'm saying is no matter what you think, that is the damnedest thing. It is.

36 comments:

  1. awww - doesn't that beat all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate to correct people's grammar, but I believe the phrase is "don't that beat all." :)

      Delete
    2. I think the phrase is actually "Well, if that don't beat all", but maybe it's a regional variation. Also, "Will wonders never cease?" 'Cause you're right, as usual.

      Delete
    3. This would be a good time to mention that Dave's and my motto at our wedding was "One never knows, do one?"

      Delete
  2. I've had 3 kids & 4 grandchildren & I'm still waiting for an answer to "What is it?"!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That wireless phone stuff is flat out magic! Not only can you pull this flat box out of your pocket and see and hear someone a thousand miles away, you can also use the same flat box to take and send color photographs and movies (with sound!). It will tell you what the weather will be tomorrow right where you are or in Australia or Albuquerque. It will tell you how to spell Albuquerque. It will tell you what the square root of fifty seven is. It will tell you who Elizabeth Taylor's third husband was. It will tell you how to fix a broken leg or a broken toilet. And you can go shopping and order stuff to be delivered without even getting out of bed. I still don't really believe in it, so I don't get the full value out of it. I leave my phone at home all too often, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I couldn't put it any better than that. I don't think my phone can do all that, for the same reason Tater can't catch birds. I don't let it. But you're enticing me with the broken toilet scenario.

      Delete
    2. How do you put rubber claw booties on your phone?

      Delete
    3. I need to find out. Because I am DAMN sick and tired of my phone shredding up the furniture.

      Delete
  4. Awww ... you're right, as usual. Congratulations all around! Sweet photos!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was never a good aunt, and now I am a great aunt. And you are right about the amaziness of it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we have been okay aunt/uncles, but the GREAT part is a lot of fun. Oh, I guess producing an entire human mostly by yourself is pretty amazing too.

      Delete
  6. You used "hopefully" correctly. These days, that's the damnedest thing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Went to a big orchid show the other day (mainly to take some photos, you understand, not because I was an exhibitor) Left home without a camera.And, as I don't have a phone...
    Back when...we didn't need smarty phones. We were on a manual exchange so between gossipy line-shares and telephonists Ol' Farmer Giles , 10 miles out of town knew about Mrs Smith's baby son before her parents cos they had to wait for a long-distance connection. Today, Facebook is flooded with babies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah! My grandma's ring was five shorts. But whoever in town had three shorts could totally rationalize picking up (late) and finding out the latest news Chez Skari. Even I was on a party line at home, but we were on the phone so seldom that we rarely picked it up and heard anyone on the other end.

      Delete
  8. It is. I get photos daily of my new first grandchild and it's so amazingly wonderful I can barely stand it. And we stare into each other's eyes on FaceTime and he looks for all the world like he's thinking, "It's the damndest thing."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or "you're the damnedest thing!" I mean, maybe. Congratulations Grandma! Or do you go by "Nana?"

      Delete
  9. When children go through their terrible 2s and the puberty, they become the "Damned" things! You gotta love 'em!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not absolutely certain we are required to love them during puberty. As I recall, I barely loved myself.

      Delete
  10. I do not have a "smart" phone as it would make me feel more stupid! Just baffled by how to use them! My friends will always whip theirs out when someone asks a questions, like, "I wonder who was the first person to climb Pikes Peak?" Soon it is a race to see who gets the right answer first!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And, as you have correctly noted, you can learn all those things merely by having someone with a smart phone in the vicinity.

      Delete
  11. Pixels in the wilderness. That surely is the damnedest thing. The baby is gorgeous.
    Had a giggle at the tweedling coming out of Dave's shorts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Them damn shorts is allus' coming up with something.

      Delete
  12. It is, it is, it IS. And I'm reading about that beautiful baby and seeing that baby and I'm in South Africa. Love you Murre. This is a keeper. So's that BABY!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And so is THAT! That you get to share our Yocum Ridge joy clear over in hyrax land! Is this the best life or WHAT?

      Delete
  13. Yes, that IS the damnedest thing. And it will continue to be. One day you'll be able to get on your phone and talk to that baby via Facetime and see and hear her gurgling at you. And some day, if you're that lucky, she'll Facetime you to share something she's just discovered. And you'll want to have your phone with you more often!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooooh. I don't know if I can handle all that.

      Delete