As a result of my last column, many of you have expressed grave concern at my supposedly exorbitant alcohol intake. I can't keep track, but at last count roughly two of you had written to me, wondering what it was that drove me to the scotch that I referenced so often while discussing The Dick Cheney Incident. Which I will be discussing no further since I harbor deep suspicions about the black sedan that has been parked outside my house ever since that column was published.
First of all, allow me to allay your fears, dear friends. I do not drink frequently nor excessively. I myself am amazed at how much time can pass before I feel the need to whet my palate, sometimes a whole 2 to 3 hours. And while it is true that I find scotch to be an amazingly bracing alternative to Listerine in the morning, I find no cause for alarm. It is purely an economical decision. One has to freshen the breath, and one has to drink (at least if one is me one has to), so why have to buy two products when one will do just as nicely for both tasks?
However, to be completely honest – a trait I have embraced wholeheartedly after several profound discussions with my friend and mentor, Jayson Blair – there are times when I feel that the fortification of a good glass of scotch is just what the doctor ordered. What, you may be asking, can possibly make one rush to the bottle with such neediness, such enthusiasm? To that I answer: a two-year old.
Those of you who have never experienced The Twos have furrowed brows, confused. You sit, comfortable in your superiority, thinking that no two-year old could possibly reduce one to such irresponsible and reckless behavior. Your house is a sanctuary of quietude and contentment, disturbed only sporadically by the meowing of a cat. You are at peace with the world, indeed you feel you must be Buddha reincarnated, you are so peaceful. To you I say, God bless you. Also, go to hell.
Then there are those of you, who are reading this and experiencing recognition. At the mere sight of the number "two", even if it is in something as mundane as the price of a latte, palpitations of the heart commence. Your brow begins to bead with perspiration. Your hand starts to twitch involuntarily, perhaps because it was at one time smashed by a hammer wielded by a two-year old. Your experience with a two-year old may be current. It may have been 5 years ago. It may have been 20 years ago. But once you have experienced a two-year old, you can never truly forget the trauma. The night wakenings, the terrors. The flashbacks. You wake up feeling horror grip you, you reach shakily for the Valium, the Percoset, the arsenic, ANYTHING to ease the pain, and you realize that you will never, EVER, be the same person you were before The Advent of The Two.
I personally am convinced that if someone would round up about 1000 two-year olds and unleash them on the Middle East, the search for Osama bin Laden would end very quickly. One needs only to tell the Army of Twos that it is a big game of HIDE AND SEEK. "Osama, where ARE yoooouuuuu?" the first group would shout with unfettered glee as they ran rampant through the caves. Then several dozen of them would do poopies in their pants and run wildly from any attempts to clean them, sending globs of poo everywhere and making the caves reek with an odor that would infiltrate the most hardy gas mask. The next unit would strategically place toys and sneakers in such a way that anyone trying to escape, or even walk casually, would trip and fall down, while a joined unit would grab the guns and clothing of anyone caught and instantly claim them (MINE! It's MY gun!!!!! I WANT it!!!! MINE!!!) Any attempts to recover said gun would bring in the baby version of the Green Berets (my daughter would be in this unit) who, fearless soldiers that they are, having refused naps for just this purpose, would be extremely cranky and would commence with blood-curdling yells and screams that would either deafen the terrorists or render them instantly insane. Any attempts on the part of the terrorists to negotiate with this unit would be met with the motto of the Twos: NO.
Osama: If you let us go, we'll give you some applesauce!
Osama: How about a toy?
TWOS: NO!!!!! (screeching at high decibels)
Osama: What about some candy? All kids like candy!!!
TWOS: I DON'T WANT IT!!!! NO! It's MY GUN!!! GO AWAY!!!
Having suffered this onslaught, Osama would rush out of the caves and beg to be taken into custody: "Abu Ghraib, I could take, but THIS? This is insufferable!!"
While I wait for the administration to call me about heading up this brilliant plan of attack, I'll have a drink. For those of you who are still waging the war inside your own house, as it were, I have found a new method of coping that I believe will allow you to come through this thing, if not smiling, well at least with your sanity intact. It is called Sublime Abandon.
This is not to be confused with Resources for Infant Educarers, a group whose ideology is that children up to age two learn best when they are left to their own devices. Children are encouraged to be self-reliant to the extent that playgroups are organized but parents must sit on the side and not interfere, physically or even vocally, as their children maul each other to death or risk their own lives attempting to swallow the penny that just came out of some other kid's jacket. You may read more about this in the current issue of Time Out New York Kids, and find out where you may, for $35 per session, enjoy the privilege of watching your child while being forbidden from interacting with him.
It should come as no surprise that this ridiculous philosophy has its roots on the West Coast, where people will hoist children on the nanny the minute anything is emitted from said child, be it cries, farts or projectile vomit. Even the word "mama" can bring a nanny running. So an ideology that encourages one to just watch the little darlings without actually interacting with them, well, my goodness, that IS convenient! However, one can do this quite comfortably in the privacy of safety of one's own home with the Sublime Abandon approach without paying for the privilege. Note that it is not abandonment. It is sublime abandon for both you and the little toddler who is left to his own devices, preferably not incendiary ones. (Although on second thought, a well placed incendiary device – never mind.)
Just do as I do. Set up a safe and enclosed area for the little twit, complete with plastic toys, books, markers, crayons and the requisite view of the television complete with remote controls. (By two, your child should have mastered the seven or eight remote controls required to operate the television and your accompanying home theater equipment, and Junior can serve as an excellent resource for you when you lose the manuals, provided you can translate "MY TV! NO!! Elmo!!!" when the time comes.) Be sure to throw in some juice boxes and crackers and raisins. Then you, having attended to Cutesie Pootsie's most immediate needs, are free to do one of several things: have a drink, take a bath, or, as I did quite recently, hop a flight to Milan for some excellent shopping.
There are those of you who may think this is cruel. I guarantee that you are people who have never had two-year olds. This is not cruel. This is keeping your sanity, indeed, your very life, by whatever means necessary. Both you and the child are engaged in Sublime Abandon, he because he has all he needs to enjoy a wonderful afternoon, you, because you have all YOU need to enjoy a wonderful afternoon (which is essentially the absence of HIM). If you want to talk about cruelty, check with Osama after I've gone in with my Army of Twos and driven him out. I'm sure he'll have some stories that will bring you to tears.