Paul Starke: I've spent the past few weeks on "hiatus" from work -- which means that until our TV show goes back into production later this summer, I'm able to spend time catching up on things like . . . seeing the new Yankee Stadium, going to "Terminator Salvation" on opening day, and, if there's time left over, bonding with my 13-month-old son.
I signed him up for a "mommy and me gym class" in our neighborhood that meets once a week. Now it's important to note that "gym class" for babies basically means several beach balls in a padded, windowless room. It's kind of like a military experiment, except without sinister figures observing us through a two-way mirror. At least I hope not.
Anyway, I showed up for Luke's first class, and was not surprised to find that I was the only dad there, amongst a group of several moms, caregivers, and one grandmother. Yet I didn't feel uncomfortable; in fact, I thought that these classes would be a great forum in which to test out my devastating wit and charm. A captive audience, if you will.
As the teacher assembled all the parents and tots into a circle, she began the class with an exercise called "Sing & Stretch." Not an ideal place for us to start, since I have creaky bones and am tone deaf. No matter -- how hard could it be? As it turns out, extremely. Not only could I not keep up with the confusing instructions (left, right, pike, straddle, etc.), I was expected to sing along, as well, to songs I've never heard before but all the other mommies seemed to know by heart. Once this painful pilates-meets-"American Idol" session ended, I was in considerable pain, but also figured this was a great time for an attention-grabbing zinger: "Daddy forgot to take his painkillers today," I said, without thinking. Strangely enough, nobody found this remotely amusing. Quite the opposite, in fact. People were visibly moving away from us.
I decided to keep quiet for the rest of the class (except for during "trampoline time," when I kindly asked the teacher where the restroom was), and for the next three classes. By the time the fourth and final class rolled around, not only could I "Sing and Stretch" with the best of them, the rest of the moms no longer regarded me as a creepy weirdo! And when Luke got his little "diploma" -- for showing up, I guess -- I felt like he'd just graduated from Yale Law School. The diploma is now magnetized to our fridge door, along with a list of things NOT to say at his next class.
|Paul Starke is an Emmy-winning TV producer, and a co-writer of the #1 New York Times bestseller, "An Inconvenient Book."|