Like ET's homeward-pointing finger

Between the flickering hospital screen, and the clumps of petroleum jelly on my wife’s stomach, and the endless and disorientating chat from a trainee nurse about bones I’ve never heard of before, there is a glimmer of something that looks like ET’s homeward-pointing finger.

“That’s a wee penis,” says the trainee.

It’s not wee, proportionally speaking, but I can see what she’s referring to.

A penis ... It’s a boy! “We can only be 80% sure,” says the nurse.

“But those definitely look like testes.” It’s a boy! Or a girl with testes! What a boost. We’d only come in to make sure the baby was the right way round, and now we know it’s a boy, or a girl with boy’s bits, which would make her, to all but the shrewdest of observers, a boy.

Before ordering a celebratory pizza, I feel obliged to tell the waiter our news, particularly as he asks, without any prompting, what we’re having. The meals out will be few and far between soon enough, but hey ... It’s a boy! We’ve been advised to sleep lots, to eat out lots and see as many films as possible before Labour Day. Hooray, let’s go and see an Oscar contender!

Midway through Sean Connery’s horror-inducing turn on Visit Scotland’s new cringe-inducing advert, I remember that they have parent and toddler cinema sessions these days. (I seem to recall they’re called “mother and toddler” sessions but I may be wrong, and anyway, these are the noughties – a man can be a mother too ... with testes.) I need cinema – it’s one of my favourite pursuits.

It will be fine, though. Boy and Father and James Bond. Fine.

But an hour into The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke it dawns on me that it might not be fine. I know people need to get up during films, and definitely prefer it to them peeing in their seats, but I still don’t like it. Especially if it coincides with a heart-wrenching scene, the kind that makes me chew on my pick ’n’ mix at an accelerated rate. 

I’m buzzing on the twin highs of washed-up wrestlers and E numbers, and some clumsy mollusc is trying to get past me.

“I’m sorry.” “So am I. You’re getting in my way. Shove off.” He stands first on one foot, then on my shopping bag, then back on my foot again. Oh, the urge to clamp my knees together and trap his legs, then push him across the chair in front of me, take his shoes off and beat him across the head with them, and then get him to apologise, in the full glare of the spotlight, before handspooling the film back to the point it was at just before he so rudely stuck his arse in my face.

Toddler cinema sessions? Angry babies eyeing my sweets and needing nappy changes? Son, it makes me want to cry.


First published on Herald Scotland.