I am sorely tempted to buy some Farley’s Rusks. The teddy bear on the packaging seems to be waving at me from the top shelf of the baby aisle in my local supermarket.
He reminds me of my childhood, of rusks dipped in milk, of twice-baked bread. My mouth is watering. The thing is, I need to buy some nappies for our next-to-newborn-sized baby and my neighbour’s son is working at the checkout.
If I blank him he might not recognise me, but if he does he might go home and tell his mum that the guy from next door was buying rusks. And, because she used to be a midwife, she’ll know that something’s not right, and that the rusks are probably for me.
It’s enough to make a grown man cry. Surely, if I want them, and have the money ... Strangely, the other food on offer doesn’t kinship along the lines of: “Look, it’s a baby, our baby is a baby, let’s give these a go.”
And the closer the gene pool, the greater your brand loyalty. If your sprog is a white male with blond, flowing locks you’re spoiled for choice; if he is generically cute with chubby forearms you can’t go wrong. When the wean gets to 11kg, Pampers helpfully upgrades him to a black baby with a smiling black mother, which is great if you fancy a change, or if your black baby has had to go without nappies for the first six months.
Wild hair? Ah, you must be looking for the Super Pooper range. Still bald at 18 months? Let me just check the stockroom. Three eyes? Erm, have you tried this website?
I’m pretty sure if I searched our flat there would be dozens of babies, in all shapes and sizes, modelling all sorts of baby gear on plastic packaging. No offence to their parents but they should keep a closer watch on their progeny. Regardless of how handsome little Bertie is, he is destined to blow into some forgotten field near a landfill site before suffocating a cow.
The second my neighbour’s son finishes his shift I’m out of here, rusks in hand.
First published in The Sunday Herald, 2009.