Recent studies have shown that there's only a six-month window after giving birth wherein new parents still stand of a chance of being considered cool or interesting by friends, co-workers, or complete strangers. But the news isn't all bad. Those same friends and coworkers said if they could do it all over again, they would actually consider re-friending the parents in question, but only if they would only promise to never mention the word "meconium" again.
Although simply friending other people with babies might seem like a no-brainer, the only thing you technically have in common is that you've both had sex at least once. This means you're still out there prowling the streets for people who get your Judy Tenuta references and think it's funny that you add -ish to every verb or adjective. Basically, it's like you're single all over again. Except fatter.
Well, fear not (-ish). There's totally stuff you can say and do so people won't even notice that you have a baby, or that you totally do have a baby but that in the right light it actually makes you prettier, or that you have a baby, but it's the kind of baby that would walk right over to a stranger and shake hands if the mood strikes. A few guidelines:
1. Don't mention you have a baby! Your baby must be unveiled when the time is right, so you can't go mucking things up by playing all your baby cards too soon. This requires an unbelievable amount of no effort whatsoever in most social situations, because, duh, nobody cares.
2. If you must mention your baby, only do so while also juggling pony beer cans as a means of shimmering deflection. Preferably while perched atop a human pyramid.
3. Disguise your baby accessories by only buying vaguely baby-like items. Plenty of diaper bags come in non-stick backpack form, for instance, which at the very least only makes you look like a raver club kid who doesn't know it's not the '90s still.
4. Casually mention cool moments in your recent past that could have happened in the last six months, even if they actually happened five years go. Did you mention that one time when you met Britt Daniel from Spoon? That was a very cool time in your life when you were very cool.
5. During an opportune pause in the convo, test your potential friend's receptiveness to your having spawned by closing your eyes very tightly and whispering your baby's name once out loud. Now open your eyes. If the potential friend has not left the room, it is OK to add them on Facebook. (People with babies aren't allowed to use invites to Google+ yet.)
6. Pretend your baby is someone else's baby. "Oh, who's THIS little guy?" you laugh. "This is just is my sister's friend's boyfriend's dog's baby. Me? I was just about to hit it for some daytime margaritas — woot! — and then peruse that antique shop down the street, the one with all the low-shelved crystal?"
7. Pretend your baby is not a baby. "Oh, this isn't a baby," you say. "It's a method actor."
8. Using a time-tested sales strategy, coax your potential new friend into the habit of saying "yes" before revealing your baby's existence. "Don't you just love the Coen brothers?" "Isn't this fine weather we're having?" "Would you agree that 7% is a fair annual return on a mutual fund?" "Then surely you can see that my having this baby is beneficial to all parties involved."
9. Instead of business cards, hand out batches of litmus paper. This will come in handy as a set-up for the greatest friend come-on line of all time: "Here, take this litmus paper. I figure you'll need it when we become friends because ever since my husband and I had a baby, we've become a litmus test for all the childless people we know trying to decide if they want to have babies or not by looking at our life and deciding exactly how fucked up it is. We'd be honored to offer our services at no cost to you. We'll even bring the pony beers."
10. When the time is right, wheel your baby out on a cart covered in velvet, preferably with he or she wearing a turtleneck. Again, presentation is KEY.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She really did meet Britt Daniel once, honest.
Image by Steve Dressler.