(FYI, the above photo is from the collection “Baby As Art” by photographer Carrie Sandoval, and they are all exquisite…a tip of the hat to Ms. S.)

I like babies.

I was quite young when I was born, and recall little of the event, but I have it on good authority that I was, in fact, once a baby myself; that may explain why I like them as I do. They’re generally cute, smell pretty good until they do something unspeakable in their diapers (something my ex- and I used to call a “special delivery” whenever my daughter left us one), sometimes noisy but mostly inoffensive, and although they add little to the Gross Domestic Product, they can be counted on to vote Democratic.

We have babies coming into Publix Supermarkets, where I am employed as a “Front Service Clerk” (not sure who services the rear, and don’t want to know) all the time, generally with their mother or, in some instances, both Parental Units (rarely alone). I talk to all the babies with whom I come in contact; our conversations are typically not understood by either party, but we have fun nevertheless.

Getting a smile from a baby always makes my day, and I’m pretty good at making them smile. (If you’ve ever seen my picture, you’ll understand why that is.) I even got to feed one little guy, while Mom was paying the bill. (See my post (“BAGGING GROCERIES AND FEEDING BABIES: A MOMENT IN THE LIFE OF AN FSC” 10/13/17.)

The other day several of us were standing around talking, during a brief lull in the action at Store #420, where I work, and someone mentioned something about Ivanka Trump, whose picture graced the cover of some magazine on the rack by the checkout line, being born with “a sliver spoon up her wazoo”, which I would think had to be rather uncomfortable for both mother and child.

Now I don’t know if that’s true about Ms. Trump, but I do know, in my case, that I had no cutlery of any kind protruding from my cute little tushie when I was born…my mother would have mentioned it at some point.

My mother did tell me, and many others, this story (and on my mother’s grave, this is true)…

I was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Hamilton Ohio, back just after the end of the Civil War, and, as was common in those days, spent the first few days of my new life at the hospital. Came the momentous day that Mr. and Mrs. Krissongs were to take their new-born son home, there never were two more proud parents than these. (They didn’t know me that well yet.)

As my mother relates the events, as they were entering the front door of our house, the phone was ringing (could have been A.G. Bell, looking for Watson, but it wasn’t), and since Dad was carrying me, Mom ran to answer the phone. 

A woman on the other end identified herself as Sister Mary Holywater, the head nun at St. Mary’s, where we had all just left, and asked to speak to Mrs. K; Mom says yo, and SMH proceeds to inform the Mother Unit that, oh shit, really sorry ma’am, but you and Mr. K left the hospital with the wrong baby. (Remember, this was in the Jurassic Period; wrist bracelet IDs and 21st century uber-security was WAY in the future.) Mom, being the occasional Einstein that she was, blurts out, oh no, we have our baby. SMH says, oh no, sorry, lady, wrong kid. 

About this time, according to my mother, I announced (at least they thought it was me), loudly I assume, that I was in immediate need of either food or a dry diaper, or both, so mother turned the phone over to my Dad, who proceeded to do the same two-step with SMH, finally arriving at the conclusion that, shit, something isn’t right here and we had better head back to the hospital and get this straightened out.

So back we go. The Family K arrives back at St. Mary’s, were ushered into SMH’s office, and I was brought forth from the nursery, oblivious to all the commotion over my whereabouts.

Yes, they had taken the wrong baby home. So the swap was made (Mom and Dad were reluctant to return the one they had) and we returned to Chez Krissongs, fortunately to no further ringing telephones. 

When a bunch of years had passed and I turned into the horrible child of the century (I really wasn’t, but I know I was the cause of many gray hairs for both of them), my parents swore that they wished that they had kept the other one…he was cuter and much less noisy, apparently.

He was also African-American.

Yes, I was the smartest one in my family, by a considerable margin.

Love and pacifiers,

Cap’n John

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