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An Extra Pair of Hands

“You’re starting to break up some, Daddy, talk louder...PLEASE!”
 
I could hardly hear my wife’s frantic voice over the static and confusion. I tapped my mouthpiece, but it didn’t seem to help. I wasn’t even sure if the blasted thing had the power to reach her. She still couldn’t hear me. My voice kept breaking up like that Neville guy, who sings with his brothers. This whole situation was beginning to unnerve me. I could kick myself for letting her leave without a practice run. It wasn’t the safest move to make. 
 
“I can’t talk any louder, honey,” I answered in a laryngitic voice. I needed to keep the anxiety I was feeling under raps. It would not be wise to let my wife know how concerned I was. “It’ll just aggravate the whole scene,” I said, “and make things difficult for everyone.” 
 
 
Easier said than done, already the timbre of my voice was beginning to stir things up.
 
“I found all the supplies,” I reported. “They’re right here, where you said they would be, but I’m not sure that will solve my problem.” If only I could remember what she knew, blindfolded, we’d all have nothing to worry about. At least a certain comfort level might be maintained.
 
“Just follow my directions, Daddy. Take a deep breath, you can make it through. Take your time; you’ll just have to be patient. Remember, what you always tell me in an emergency? Hang loose!” 
 
Easy for her to say, I mumbled aloud. With all this chaos and struggling, following her directions was about as easy as having a bunch of relatives on a family vacation give you different directions to the restaurant at the same time. She may just as well be a thousand miles away, for all the good she was to me now, I conjectured, as if I expected someone at my side to commiserate with me.
 
“Did you hear that, Mommy? I guess I’m not working fast enough,” I called. The entire place began to resonate with sounds that, by this time, resembled a greased-pig contest at a country fair.
 
“Sweetheart, I’m just hearing _you_ and static...Daddy, you’re breaking up! Are you OK?”
 
I turned up my volume control button. Why I thought that might create a stronger signal is beyond me. Hang loose, buddy!
 
“I’m almost finished,” I gasped, fearing she may have noticed my heavy breathing. After all, I was the “machismo” element in the family. Come on, man, face it, I told myself. I remembered one of those TV psychologists talking about positive thinking when you’re in a tough spot. Over and over again, I played this new tape in my brain—I can do it, I can do it!         
 
To take her focus off me, I spurted, 
 
“Did you hear that, Mommy?”
 
“Did I hear what, Dear? Oh, yes--the voices, but, barely. They sound like whispers.” 
 
I wish! I could sure use a pair of earplugs, right about now, If only I’d paid more attention in class, I wouldn’t be having all these problems. I’d have a little more confidence in a situation like this. Of course, things were less chaotic, then. And, who in the world expected anything like this to happen? No one, least of all, me!   
 
Forget the earplugs. What I really need is an extra pair of hands. Directions, directions, where did she ...uh, here. First, left...nah, that doesn’t seem right. That’s the wrong way. Let me back up and start again. How about this way?
 
There, that’s more like it. We’re going in the right direction this time. Things are a little smoother, not so bumpy. Wow, that was easier than I thought. I can do that again! Thank heavens, there‘s no one around to notice I’m talking to myself. 
 
“Hang in...almost...!” My wife’s voice broke into my soliloquy. Her voice began to get louder and stronger. There was a reassurance in her words. I could tell and so could they. Instantly, things began to quiet down, as if a neighbor had
threatened to call the police if we didn’t lower the volume on a “rock station.” 
 
She’d be here any minute. I was confident this nightmare was about to come to an end. I hurried to dispose of all things disposable, cleared off Mommy’s favorite chair, and tried to appear nonchalant. I wanted her to know that I really could handle the situation.
                                                
Finally, she reached us. Smiling, as if she had just experienced a serotonin rush from her favorite chocolate candy, my wife, Mommy, appeared in the doorway, barely leaving me time to get my head on straight, hands sanitized, and ready to take my own “R&R.”
 
“Whoever invented these baby monitors was a genius,” she said, as she walked through the door, jiggling the little box in her hand. She turned her monitor off and set it on the dresser. “Can you believe I heard Daddy all the way out to the front yard?” she said, speaking as if I were invisible.
 
I tried to wipe the sweat beads from my upper lip, without attracting too much attention. I inched toward the door.
 
“It’s time for your bottle, Baby-Girl,” my wife cooed, in that voice all babies respond to. She lifted a relieved infant, smelling from an overdose of baby-powder, out of her cradle. 
 
“Daddy did such a wonderful job changing your diapers, now he’s ready to give his little girl her bottle.”
 
She handed me our daughter’s bottle of formula and offered us, both, a rocking chair. She lowered herself into a second rocker and whispered in a seductive voice,
 
“It’s so nice to have an extra pair of hands, at a time like this, isn’t it, Daddy? Now, Mommy can feed Daddy’s little boy his bottle, too.”
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