By Kevin Isom
The tickets were bought, and the arrangements were made. My nephew was coming to town.
I had to be ready, so I began to prepare. It was, after all, my very first visit from this 15-month-old carrier of related genes named Reagen.
Since a stroller and crib were too cumbersome to bring both on the plane, I offered to have my own stroller, if my sister brought her porta-crib. This sounded simple enough.
But where does a gay man living comfortably in Midtown Atlanta go to buy baby gear? Why, the suburbs, of course! But I wasn't going alone.
On a clear Friday night, I consulted my maps and made the announcement to Clint, my P.S.B. (potential serious boyfriend). "Visibility is good," I said. "The roadways are clear. Put on your sensible shoes, 'cause we're going stroller shopping tonight."
Amused, he agreed, and we climbed into the car, heading North by Northeast, destination OTP. Which, in Atlanta, means "Outside the Perimeter," also known as "visiting Bubba-land," and in some instances "foreign travel."
Clint thought it a simple matter to find the right stroller. Inexpensive, okay. Collapsible, fine. He followed me into the Baby Superstore with only minor trepidation.
Little did he know that I would find this one too plain, and that one too cheap. "I will not have my nephew parade around Atlanta in just any old stroller," I proclaimed, my fists firmly clenched. Faced with such resolve, Clint wisely agreed.
Two stores later, we found ourselves at mega discount store, which was a small town, more or less, surrounded by a parking lot. It was a cavernous place filled with curious folks, looking at the two men, one with an earring, carefully examining strollers. Oddly enough, no other pairs of men seemed to be stroller shopping that night.
And there I found the perfect stroller. It was collapsible, in just the right shade of teal to match Reagen's eyes, with royal blue trim, a foot rest, and a retractable canopy to protect him from the sun. All this for twenty bucks. I was duly impressed.
We loaded our purchase in my Toyota with glee, as badly dressed shoppers looked after us, wondering, "Who could they be?" We headed back into Atlanta, where I began to make lists.
Lists of what to do, and when, and with whom. Pick up Sis and Reagen. Lunch with friends. Show off Reagen. Nap time for Reagen, cappuccino for Sis. Dinner with friends. Show off Reagen. Zoo. Show off Reagen. Park. Show off Reagen. You get the idea.
When the list was all done, Clint watched in disbelief as I began my next task -- testing the stroller. I opened it, then collapsed it, then opened it again. From the closet, I pulled out my trusty koala bear (I never had a teddy), and settled him in. I strapped him in tight, and we went for a drive. Round and round the apartment we zoomed, verifying cornering abilities, confirming that the parking brake actually worked.
Koala survived with barely a scratch, but I wasn't so sure about Clint. He looked pretty shaken.
My testing complete, I took Clint by the hand. We still had baby food shopping to do. At the grocery store (the main gay and lesbian one, of course), ten pounds of baby oatmeal for a weekend seemed about right to me. So I moved on to jar food, where I was shocked and amazed. There were so many choices in Gerber! But then I found Gourmet. Baby jars of pureed Pasta Printemps and Ratatouille with Herbs. "Who knew?" I cried. "Who knew?"
My basket loaded with jars of Gerber and Le Bebe Gourmet, we rolled toward checkout, where Clint told the surprised clerk, "He thinks we're expecting twins."
My cabinets stocked and my stroller at ready, I was almost prepared for Reagen to visit. I had one more detail on my list, one tiny detail. If we were going to stroll Reagen through Piedmont Park on a Sunday, I wanted to know the lay of the land, the configuration of the terrain. From a stroller point of view.
As Clint slept blissfully, I wondered how much convincing it was going to take persuade him to let me strap in his cocker spaniel for a test drive through the park. I needed a test passenger, right?
No matter. I just wouldn't tell him until we were there...