By David Leonhardt
I was reading "A Modern Infant Armada", a humor column in Maclean's Magazine written by a fellow humor columnist. Writing about it now is a bit like a painter painting another painter or a singer singing about another singer (but it not like a cook cooking another cook.).
David Russell (yes, another humor columnist named David) laughs at his neighbor for parking both cars in the driveway to make room in the garage for four strollers for just one child. I laughed with him. Four strollers for just one baby is ridiculous, right?
However, David Russell becomes a parent himself, a condition that afflicts many unsuspecting homo sapiens, and he concludes that a call to his neighbor is warranted: "I need to see if he can help me get a fleet rate."
"Traitor!" I cried out. "Stroller monger!"
"Who's a traitor?" my wife asked as she walked in the room. "And just what is a stroller monger."
I resisted the obvious answer ? that a stroller monger is somebody who mongs strollers. "David Russell. He says that one stroller is enough for any child, but then he decides to buy an entire fleet."
"Say, we could have saved a bundle if we had applied for a fleet rate," my wife mused.
"What? We don't have four strollers."
My wife smiled. It was a sweet smile you could just fall in love with...if you did not know that it meant, "Oh yes we do!"
"We do not."
"My wife took out her counting fingers. "First there is the car seat," she said, pressing down the first finger. "We snap it into the stroller base whenever we go anywhere."
"OK, that's one."
"Then there is the SUV," she said, pressing down on a second finger. The "SUV" is a full sized stroller. We bought it when we were still squeezing it on a downtown apartment. With no storage space, it stood in the entrance area, blocking our path to the kitchen and any hope of escaping if the place caught fire. The SUV is the Hummer of strollers.
"OK, that is a stroller, I will grant you. But that's just two."
"We also have the fold-up stroller," my wife said, pressing down a third finger.
"But she's not even using it yet."
"She will soon and we have it now," my wife pointed out. "Then there is the old fold-up stroller we kept as a backup. That makes four."
"You can't count duplicates. That's double counting."
"It takes double the space," my wife insisted. "We have four strollers.
I stared in silence. Slowly it sunk in. Yes, there were two Davids who were humor columnists, but there were also two Davids who were stroller-mongers.
Uh-oh. My wife was smiling again. She was watched for just the right moment to strike. "Our baby has more seats in this house than anybody else has."
"That's ridiculous." No sooner had the words left my mouth than I remembered the boomerang rule. Words like ridiculous, ludicrous, silly, stupid and big mouth usually apply only to the person who speaks them.
My wife rhymed off our seats, "Three on the couch, two chairs in the living room, six in the kitchen, one in the bathroom and one at each of our desks. Plus the three red chairs Little Lady has in the living room. That makes 17."
"Ha!" I knew it couldn't be true.
Then came that deadly sweet smile again, the smile that said, "Take my hand while I lead you around the house to see why you should think first and shout 'Aha!' later."
In the kitchen stood the high chair and the sit-in play saucer. In her office sat the rocking chair that never rocked and the bouncy chair that never bounced. There was the swing seat, and there were two cushion seats for sitting upright on the floor. She opened the door to the enclosed porch, and there were the four strollers and the car seat she would soon be using.
"That makes 12," my wife tallied. "We each have fewer than six."
I thought really hard. "Aha!" I said again, proudly pointing out that this time I had thought first and shouted 'Aha!' later.. "We have three chairs on the balcony, and six on the patio. There are also six folding chairs for the fire pit."
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and there was no reason to forget all the outdoors furniture at a time like this. Unfortunately, there was no reason to forget arithmetic, either. Our baby still had the most seats in the house ? and outside the house, too.
"Uh, do toilet seats count?"
My wife smiled her sweet smile again, a smile that could only mean, "So, stroller monger, what do you have to say for yourself now?"
I knew that another humor columnist named David had just been labeled a traitor. Meekly, I mumbled. "Lawn tractor seat?"
About the author:
David Leonhardt publishes The Happy Guy humor column:
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