I can handle wet kisses—you already know that. They’re hot when I’m caught up in the moment. But too much saliva is nasty. And spitting, drooling—those are deal breakers. Makes me nauseous.
In fact, anything Kate can do—bath time, bedtime, midnight feedings—I can do too. I kind of have to.Kate was only twenty-eight when James was born. For a professional in our field, that’s young. And as happy as she was to do the mom thing—and despite a boatload of guilt—she just wasn’t ready to trade in the corporate ladder for Mommy and Me’s and goddamn Wiggles songs.
A nanny or day care was out of the question. When I was young, I didn’t even like to board our dogs. No way was I handing my kid off to some strangers, hoping every day that they didn’t cause harm.But I did promise Kate—once upon a time—that I’d make all her dreams come true. So, we compromised. Here’s how that played out. You’ll find the ending of this exchange particularly gratifying . . . or at least I did:It’s ten thirty by the time I walk through the door of our apartment. These may seem like late hours to you, but in the field of investment banking, it’s pretty much par for the course. One seven o’clock meeting runs over, then a conference call with Indonesia, a couple more hours spent reviewing contracts, and here we are.
When James was first born, I took two weeks dad-ternity leave, but now I’m back at the office full speed ahead. Kate’s doing the stay-at-home-mom thing. We used to alternate the middle-of-the-night feeding shifts, but because it’s difficult to form a coherent sentence—let alone manage millions of dollars—when half your brain is asleep, they now fall on her, so I can get a night of decent shut-eye and not decimate my clients’ fortunes.I toss my keys on the table and nudge the door closed with my foot. I step into the living room—Kate’s sitting on the couch with a basket of laundry at her feet, folding tiny pants that will join their onesie brethren stacked on the table. Her long, soft hair—which I relish feeling draped across my thighs—is tied up in a bun. She’s wearing short pajama shorts and a navy T-shirt, and I can’t help but notice her still-larger-than-normal-from-breast-feeding tits are free from the usual bra constraints.
In a louder voice than I’d intended, I say, Hey, beautiful.
Shhh! She attacks. If you wake that baby, I’ll pluck out every pubic hair you have the next time you fall asleep.After giving Delores the barest of details, Billy insists she go check on Kate—sounds like she’s pretty much a train wreck. Dee grabs her coat and makes eye contact with me from the door. Then she tilts her head in her cousin’s direction, silently telling me to hang out with him while she’s gone.
I nod firmly. She gives me a thankful smile then walks out.Leaving Billy-boy and me on our own.
I feel like I should play host, but this is his cousin’s apartment—he’s obviously comfortable in it—’cause he knows where the hard liquor is. As soon as the door is closed, he walks to the kitchen and comes back with a bottle of vodka, two shot glasses, and two beers.He sits on the couch, sets the on-my-way-to-shit-faced paraphernalia on the table, and pours two shots. He slides one in my direction and immediately downs his own. By the time I swallow my shot, Billy’s already finished with number two.