Jackpage: Understanding babies

Jack Swain

A week or two ago I went to Safeway and something really wild happened. I was minding my own business, contemplating the cereal aisle, when I came across a baby. She was standing up, wearing a fuzzy blue onesie and a full head of blonde hair. Her parents were nowhere to be seen. It was just me and the baby. We stared at each other.

“What are you looking at,” I said.

The baby didn’t say anything, so I waved at her. She held up a fat fist and shook it at me.

“So that’s how it’s gonna be, huh.”

She took a few shaky steps towards me, almost fell and steadied herself. She latched onto my leg and I looked around again for her parents.

“What’s your deal, Blue?” I asked her. She looked up at me and blinked. She had big hazel eyes. Without thinking I ruffled her hair.

“Where’s your mom at?”

“Da,” she replied.

“That’s my middle name. How’d you know my name? You following me or something?”

“Da.”

“Jesus Christ, what the fuck?” I muttered under my breath. Blue sneezed. “Oh… Sorry? You don’t understand what I’m saying do you?”

“Da.”

“O.K.” I picked her up awkwardly. “O.K.”

At the customer service counter I sat her down and she immediately reached for the display of lighters.

“C’mon Blue,” I said “Aren’t you a little young for that?”

She held up a lighter, clutched in her pudgy fingers and stuck it in her mouth.

“Um, no.” I gently pulled it away and she gave me a look with her big eyes, seriously hurt. I was thankful she didn’t burst into tears.

“Don’t give me that look Blue.” I handed it back and she started sucking on it again.

“Can I help you?” It was the manager.

“Uh, yes, actually. I found this, um, baby?”

Without missing a beat, the manager picked up the phone and said, “Owner of a baby, please claim it at the customer service desk.” Then he walked away and left me with Blue. She gave me a look like ‘Is this guy serious right now?”

I looked around and imagined a flustered, out-of-breath woman running up to the counter any second.

“So,” I said to Blue, “come here often?”

“Da.”

“Is that so?”

“Da!”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Da da da da da da da!”

We laughed together waited for someone to come to the counter.

“Are you hungry?” I grabbed a container of hummus and showed her how to eat it with her fingers. We had fun making a mess until Child Protective Services arrived. They took her off with hummus all over her face. She had that same look in her eyes. I hope you are doing O.K., Blue. I’m going to think of you every time I eat hummus.