Two random episodes:
Sitting outside a restaurant, after leaving the smoky bar to get some fresh air. (Who knew bars were still smoky? I thought the only place anybody in the country could sneak a Camel now was the basement of an abandoned tobacco warehouse in Cleveland. People who smoke are nuts, not to mention smelly, but I don't believe in legislating everything in the universe from leaf-blowers to car seats--don't you have to ride in a car seat until you're, like, 23 now?--and if somebody wants to light up, it's his decision, bless his over-taxed heart!)
So, I'm sitting on a little stone wall, and about 10 feet away are two girls and a guy, talking earnestly. One girl had broken up with her boyfriend "because, God, he is so not ready to commit, you know? I mean, I'm like ready to get married and have kids, and he's all like, 'What?' and I just said, God, forget it."
The other girl says, "Yeah, but you're already a mom. You have Sparky!"
The first girl giggles, "Yeah, Sparky's my baby! Same thing!" (Fine. Whatever.)
But, the second girl goes on, "No, honestly, I think walking a dog is the same as, like, changing a diaper, really. When Dave walks Chester, I think that shows he's ready to take care of a baby, you know?"
The guy--who has wisely stayed quiet so far--snorts involuntarily into his beer and almost needs CPR.
This is the younger generation? They think walking a dog is the same as changing a diaper, which is the main prerequisite for becoming a dad? I, myself, snorted involuntarily and almost fell off the little stone wall.
The second male-female encounter involved our neighbors, a couple with three kids, a mortgage and a great sense of humor. They came by last night and we talked in the driveway for a few minutes before the wife said, "Come on, Pooh [not his real name], you promised we'd stop for a minute and then take our walk."
Pooh looked at me, mystified. "Can you believe it? The kids are out, the house is empty. I say, 'Snugglebunny [not her real name, either], we need some quality time. [He wiggles his eyebrows.] And she wants to take a walk!" She smacks him playfully on the arm.
Always thinking outside the box, I say, "Why don't you split the difference? Run really hard from here back home to your bedroom, and then ... uh ... burn some additional calories for the next few hours." She smacks me on the arm, too, and off they go, still teasing contentedly after 25 years.
As I watch them go, I wonder when it was that they knew changing a diaper wasn't all there was to parenthood. And, I noticed, also, that they don't have a dog.