A Night With the Womenfolk

Those who don’t want to read me droning on about my day may wish to skip to the #—> symbol below. That’s where the story actually begins.

It was a productive day – I spent the morning recording audio as a test to see if I was qualified for a new “job” — reading texts out loud to help a professor somewhere with his research. The pay is insignificant, but I like the idea that I’m helping out. Of course, the first recording session is always the most complicated, and it wound up taking most of my morning. Next time (if I pass this test) will be much easier. I was reading about the history of mathematics, and the subject is actually quite interesting, so that’s all right.

Next came some tweaks to the upcoming release of Jer’s Novel Writer, which promises to be a small but tangible step forward in utility. One or two fewer things to think about when working, and support for the newfangled gestures that the latest macs support. (None of my equipment does, which makes debugging a crapshoot.)

Next it was out on the town with fuego; we both had computer hardware to buy. I needed an external drive that I could use to boot my laptop into the latest version of the mac operating system while leaving the old-school install intact. It would be cheaper to wait until I get to the US to buy it, but I need to make sure I can maintain the software before I leave.

#—> (don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything)

Hardware purchased, we stopped off at a cafĂ© to get some writing done – me on my novel package for the writing workshop, fuego on some advertising copy he’s been hired to write. “You’re invited to dinner,” he told me. Thinking of the barren wasteland that is my refrigerator at home, I gladly accepted. fuego exchanged messages with the missus and I was committed. It was a while later that fuego told me “Oh, by the way, MaK’s mom and a friend of hers will be there.”

Hm. I like my brother’s mother-in-law, she’s a cool lady, but this night was starting to sound like more than I was prepared to handle. “I expect they’ll just cluster around the kid and we can escape unnoticed,” fuego said, or something to that effect. We stopped by the store on the way for beer and cheese, then headed up to their apartment. Already there was a mother and daughter, neither of whom fuego or I had been warned about.

Fast forward. I’m sitting at the kitchen table in a very small apartment, watching the women gathered around MaK as she cleans the baby’s butt. The conversation is about baby poop, in czech. I am not in my element.

Skip forward a little farther. MaK produces a table that lists the time of every feeding the baby has ever had. The older women are impressed. “They’re not like us,” fuego says, but not in exactly those words, although one of the womenfolk, whom I’d met once before, is quite a charismatic lady. We hadn’t counted on her when we figured how many beers to bring.

Join me in another hop forward in time as I witness jealousy among the women toward the one who is currently holding the baby. When I’m holding a child, I’m am thinking nothing except “please oh please don’t let me break this thing.” Apparently something on the missing leg of the Y-chromosome is capable of convincing one that holding a tiny helpless thing that you could kill by sneezing is relaxing. Therapeutic, even.

Not long after that, the baby was asleep (despite periodic checks by enthusiastic fans) and I sat and listened to the flow of conversation. I understood more than I expected, but even if I had been able to form sentences in a timely manner I would have remained quiet. It was not my conversation, and the language it was conducted in was not the largest obstacle. Soon after I was expressing my regret that I had to go. Yes, sadly, I had no choice. Things to do and whatnot. You understand. They certainly did.

4 thoughts on “A Night With the Womenfolk

  1. I don’t know how open Czech women are about birthing information but my sibling and cousins tend to talk at meals in details best left in a foreign language – so you may have lucked out!

  2. Hey jer, Point of order here. How do you pronounce MaK? I have been saying “Mah Kay.” I suppose that it coule be “Mahk” or “Make.”

    Please answer soonest, your fans want to know.

  3. Hm… that’s actually a good question. In my head I pronounce it “Emaykay”, but I’m absolutely certain that’s not how she hears it. I’ll have to ask.

  4. Partly the baby fascination is a female thing — think of generations of acculturation and a big big chunk of the historical business of being female — but also it’s partly a parent thing. Even for non-females, the experience of caring for, learning to live with, and being bonded with a wee tiny person is life changing.

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