© St. Petersburg Times, published May 31, 2002
I HAVE in my dresser drawer what every childless single woman has:
Five diapers, two brands of baby wipes, one can of Similac Ready-to-Feed Infant Formula; pureed sweet potatoes, oatmeal cereal and Gerber Fruit & Carrot Juice.
Until a year ago, I might have made a reduction sauce of the juice and drizzled it over scallops on a bed of creamy leeks.
But back then this was a sock drawer.
A year ago, he debuted: The Nephew.
EVEN NOW, Nicolas boards a plane bound for Tampa with his mother, their luggage and a bottomless supply of drool.
They are coming for the weekend.
I know what this means. Men in white spacesuits will soon arrive to sanitize my sink. Government censors will interfere with television, replacing Six Feet Under with Teletubbies. My prized Henckels Four-Star knives will be confiscated, replaced by safety scissors.
My sister will get the bed; I, the futon. Because somewhere up in heaven, our parents are watching.
THE DOGS? They should run for their lives.
T minus 14 days, she telephones.
"I thought that dog mouths were supposed to be clean, but you know they really aren't," she says. She read it on the Internet.
T MINUS 10 days, she calls again.
"Did you know that 50 percent of all kids are bitten by dogs by the time they are 18 years old?" Also from the Internet.
Memorial Day weekend. I bathe the dogs. I consider forcing them to gargle.
T minus five days. She tells me not to go to any trouble.
A YEAR AGO, I watched him pop out, face up instead of down. That was the first sign of trouble.
Shouldn't he be reading or in law school by now? He's 12 months old. Is this normal, this teething and toddling?
Don't e-mail me. Baby videos from my sister clog my AOL account.
ONCE it was full of photos from her travels. We rode camels in Jerusalem, toasted the midnight sun in Sweden's Arctic Circle, lit a fire in a castle off the coast of Greece. We toted a Scrabble board around the world.
Now, there's only Scrabble, played while the baby tries to eat the letters.
GRANTED, he's pretty cute.
But his smiles and squeals, I know, are thinly veiled attempts to take power.
He will soon want not one but two dresser drawers. And then a closet. Before long there will be hamster cages and baseball cleats. He's already booking my house and Pathfinder for spring breaks with his high school friends.
Meanwhile, those oh-so-innocent coos. Hah.
THEN AGAIN, he may one day have sole responsibility for deciding whether batty Auntie Patty gets a waterfront retirement condo or gets shipped to sea on an ice floe.
So, okay, buddy. I got your game.
Did you know that I changed your first diaper?
Come on over. Come see your Auntie Patty.
-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.