I found a lucky penny today.
Today on the bus going to work, I took a seat near the back and chatted with a neighbour for a few minutes. When it started getting crowded and we could no longer talk across the aisle, we, by mutual agreement, put our respective headphones back on and got lost in the process of Tuesday morning.
Shortly after, an improbably young mom, mayne sixteen or seventeen, got on the bus with a baby in a stroller. The baby was cute, not stunningly model-perfect or anything, but a sweet, chubby, baldish little girl, about maybe five or six months old, dressed in pink. She was settled into the stroller quite comfortably. Every once in a while, the mom would look down at her and fuss a bit, but she was quite a happy little thing. They were positioned so the baby was right beside me.
I looked at her and grinned. I got no reaction at first so I stuck out my tongue. She smiled a little. In a few minutes, she was bored and started wiggling around a bit. She leaned forward and found her feet. Tried her darndest to get one in her mouth. Soon, her little jacket was covered in drool. She played with her fingers as if they were complex, facsinating toys she had never seen before. I remembered the stage of my kids’ infancy with some relief and not a little grief for its passing.
At one point, her fat little hand reached out and patted the knee of the guy sitting across from me. He looked a bit like a gangsta, maybe seventeen, with jeans hanging off his butt and his hat on sideways. The baby just reached over and smacked his knee a bit. I could see her grinning at him. He was grinning back.
A minute or two later, the baby gave one of those involuntary little lurches and spit up a little. Just a bit, on her shoe and her little hand. She played with it, trying, it looked like, to figure out what it was and where it came from. She patted my leg, and I felt warm knurr. A few seconds later, without even a burp, out bubbled more curdy white baby puke. Significantly more. All over her front, on her shoes, and a good-sized splat on the floor of the bus. Jack was a puky baby, so this was nothing new to me. It didn’t really occur to me to let the mom, who was watching for her stop, know. It was just a little spit-up, not stinky or chunky or anything. Nothing invoking any sort of gag factor.
Despite the puke, this tiny person captivated the people around her. She made faces and thoroughly entertained everyone around her. When her mom rang the bell to get off, a professional-type in an expensive business suit grabbed the bottom of the stroller to help the mom back it off the bus. I don’t think it was until she was well off (and suitably grateful) that he realized he had put his hand directly in the puke. He held it up and looked at it as if someone had handed him a fistful of poop. He tried to wipe it on one of the bus’s handrails. I thought he himself might puke. I started to laugh. Oh, you are so childless, I thought.
“I got some too,” I laughed and pointed at my pants. I figured in a minute or two it would dry and I could just flick off the crud. He didn’t look too impressed. Someone gave him a napkin and he wiped his hand off. He offered it, crumpled and kind of slimy, to me when he was done. I was still laughing. “It’s ok,” I said. “It’s just a little baby puke”.
I chuckled the rest of the way to work. I wonder how fast the businessman ran for the washroom when he got to the office. The price of offering a helping hand.