Sunday Stories: “Everyone’s Getting Old for the First Time”


Everyone’s Getting Old for the First Time
by Perry Genovesi

While her husband, Stan, relayed to Carson a story about something indelicate their CEO had said, she decided it was time to bring out the baby. Blair set her wine on the coaster and smoothed her skirt.

She left the living room and stepped to Declan’s crib, scooping him up, carefully, so he wouldn’t have one of his outbursts. She snapped on his overalls with the big, goldfinch-yellow buttons Stan’s mother had pushed on her from BINK. She smoothed Declan’s silky hair over his forehead and his warm lips pecked her shoulders. She looked at herself in the mirror with the baby and thought about her husband’s wish, expressed before Carson arrived, of wanting Carson to settle down with Charlotte from work. Carson didn’t even bring Charlotte. What was the point? And why did they settle down? She’d been the right age and Stan expected it. She swaddled up Declan and cha-cha’d into the living room.

— Oh, there’s the party overalls! Stan said

Carson’s half-lidded eyes popped open and he fumbled his glass onto the green knit coaster. — Oh wow! It’s, it’s kind of like a puppy, right? And he touched two fingers to his lips. — Oh God, that was rude, huh? I’m sorry, I’ve never seen one before.

— A baby? Stan said.

Carson nodded.

— I don’t believe. I mean weren’t you a kid once? Stan said

Carson paused and a smile sparked over Blair’s face. 

— I guess so. I’ve seen them on TV and movies. But never in real life. Declan cooed in Blair’s arms. — C’mere, Declan! Carson continued; he patted his dark-denim knees. — C’mere! he said, then whistled. Declan gummed his own finger. — Did…you want to hold him? said Blair. Carson’s expression froze as if a car had crashed on the sidewalk in front of him. 

— I don’t know. Shouldn’t we sit down if the food’s ready? Stan said. Blair nodded. 

— I know I’ve seen some on the news, commercials. But CGI can make anything real.

— Baby photos? said Stan.

— Nope, he said, shrugging.

— You’re hilarious, said Blair.

The party took up their wine glasses. Stan held his and Blair’s (glad to help!) and crept to the kitchen with them as if leaving a crime scene. Blair set Declan into his high-chair. Stan scuttled in front of Blair to get to the oven first. —What are you doing? she said. Carson gawked at Declan but refocused as Blair returned; he tucked the red napkin into his lap. Stan pushed on a fringing mitt and opened the oven door. Curry perfumed the kitchen. As he was sifting through the utensil holder for a ladle, Blair said  — You can…sit down, honey. I can serve it. Stan would have known she’d cooked for four hours.

— But I got it! he said. On the coil burner the pan clanged. He lifted the lid. Three plump water drops dripped on the jasmine rice. Milky steam heated his wrists and chin. He fluffed the rice.

— I can do that, Honey, said Blair.

— We’re a modern couple! Stan laughed. He turned toward his employee, the man who, for four years, had been his underling. Carson looked as if he were visiting a monkey house. 

Stan rationed out three plates of curry tofu with rice, his wrists shaking from the heavy pot. Blair circled over to a cabinet next to the microwave and popped open a can of peas. Carson stared at Blair spooning mash into a ceramic tiger plate. — He’s not eating what we have?

— No, kids can’t handle spicy foods, said Blair.

— So they get a special dish?

Stan returned with the Merlot Carson brought over. — I don’t know why this’s so hard for you, Cars. Yeah. He re-filled everyone’s glasses, finishing the bottle. 

— Well what do you do when you go out to eat? Carson said.

— There’s not that many places for us in the city. They’ve got to have kid’s seats. The right atmosphere. When Declan gets old enough we’ll enjoy kids menus. But, now we’re at the stage where we find ourselves strolling the Home Depot and Target aisles with him for fun.

— My God, said Carson. To Declan, he said, — You’re a very lucky being.

This time, Stan and Blair stared. Stan gripped the fork. — So, I get you’re an only child. But, preschool? Cousins? Living in the city?

Carson shrugged, chewing, peeking over at Declan whenever the baby flailed.

— What about pumping stations? said Blair.

— Cows on farms? Carson peered behind him and Stan and Blair eyed each other. — I saw the…instruments on the wall. You guys play? he said, his eyes flitting over the ukulele, mandolin and guitar.

— We used to be in a band before this guy came along. Now we do Kindermusic classes. I strum and Declan sucks on a shaker egg, Blair said.

— No rhythm. Just like his dad, Stan said; he leaned over and touched a finger to his son’s green-stained chin. Declan’s lips crumpled, then coiled, then his mouth voided open and he howled – a long, lugubrious outcry. Stan leaned to touch his son’s forehead. But Declan twisted away. Blair’s fingers arched on the tabletop. And Stan had never even complimented her new manicure. Then a chair scraped and Carson was standing at their sink. — Where do y’all keep your treats? Carson flung open their cereal then spice cabinets while Declan shrieked. — This’ll calm him down: give him a treat! Pet him! Give him a treat.

Stan stood and the red napkin somersaulted down his leg. — Carson, sit. He’s not a dog. We don’t have treats.

On his tiptoes, Carson peered over a box of Saltines and Nilla Wafers. Declan sipped his lime-green sippy. Stan stormed over to the paper towel spool and pulled to take a towel cleanly but it tore. He swabbed his son’s cheeks and chin. 

— His cheeks look so much like ours! said Carson. He stroked his own face. — I’m sorry. He folded his hands in his lap. — I don’t know where my brain was going with that.

— Don’t be sorry. It’s novel, Blair said.

— Whenever Tovarisch…nevermind, said Carson.

— You were doing what’s best for what worked for you in the past, said Blair. 

Stan ground his stained fingers into his khakis. — What about the school taxes you pay? Who do those benefit if not children?

— Where on my tax documents does it say schools? Please show me.

Stan glared above the table at the globe light where a dead fly curled. — Is all that matters to you – you? Is that why you claim you don’t see kids?

— Please. I know I’ve been one once.

— I don’t appreciate you challenging Blair and I on our decision.

— I’m not. Carson showed his open palms.

— You almost gave my kid dog food.
— I’m…afraid he’s right, Carson, said Blair. Declan gurgled. Stan’s eyes met Blair’s, sleep-puffiness under her eyes visible.

Stan whispered, — What do you do instead that’s so great? What fine, childless, wonderful escapade?

— I mean, nothing that would keep me from owning a child. But I keep busy! I tend an acre of music.

— An entire acre? Blair turned toward him. She hurried over with another bottle of red. — This is from a vineyard in Frenchtown we went to with Terry. Before Decky of course. She lifted the bottle and filled Carson’s glass. 

Stan eyed the level. — You’re giving him more?

— You know the Western scale has seven positions, right? Carson sipped his wine, set the glass down and cleaved his hand through the air. — You’ve got tonic, dominant, and so on. What if the positions,  instead of going this way, what if they went underground? With each point Carson dropped his hand an inch and then he held both hands.

— So you’re planting, what? Stan said.

— Not things, babe. Instruments, said Blair.

— And not always instruments, really, Carson said. — Vibrational objects. Things that vibrate in the Earth’s rhythm.

Declan burbled again and Blair beamed at Carson.

— I planted a 90’s Discman and headphones last Spring in my lot. It was playing ‘Abraxas’. You should’ve seen the yields.

— But even if you let something…ring out, won’t it stop vibrating once dirt hits it? Blair said.

— You’d think that – especially with strings. But they keep vibrating. Too soft for the human ear. Like a dog whistle.

Blair slurped her wine.

— It’s Possibilities. The Community Vibration Farm. I volunteer about twelve hours a week with the acre. Carson pointed at the couple. —You have a vibration, and you have a vibration. Then he wiped his spoon and pointed at Declan, — Even infant has a vibration. He tapped the centerpiece red vase with drooping sunflowers in it. It rang. Declan smiled, cooed, and curled his toes.

— Sounds like you’re a real Jack and the Beanstalk, Cars, huh? Wish you’d brought us some magic beans. Stan shot wine into his mouth, dabbing his knuckle to his lip.

 — No, no magic beans. That’s not what we’re about. Carson turned to Blair, — You simply need something to plant. Then he turned to Stan and then Declan. — Something that vibrates – as she said – in tune with Gaia.

She was captivated, attentive. Like she’d had a night of the sleep they’d had before Declan. Like they used to sleep in till noon in the days of their musical career. Carson said, — I was thinking about bringing y’all some if y’all indulge. But I didn’t want to weird you out.

— Ohhh, I wish you had! I miss feeling that high. But we’ve got Little Man now, said Blair. 

— You can still be a mother with a goddamned acre of music! Stan slammed both palms on the table. His wine glass at table’s edge tipped off and shattered. Declan screamed in three cascading sobs.

— We had a band. Before you had us break it, Blair said over the din.

— I did not.

— The canceled May? Never getting back to Arthur about the tape? Honey, that was all you. I could still play.

— All I’m saying is you can still be a mother and- 

Blair turned to Carson. — With his schedule I could only do it one night a week. What if I wanted more? Who’d watch Declan? She tipped her glass to Stan. — You’d sit around with your finger in your ass. He wouldn’t help. And then he slinks away to work. Expects me to pick up the pieces. Now Stan dropped to the floor so fast he might’ve fallen. He reappeared dangling two glass shards. The men, hunched over the floor, wrapped the pieces in the yellow plastic bag the Merlot had come in, fumbling with it. Blair listened to the thumps under the table. Stan had claimed he’d help tidy their apartment for Carson (and, at the time, Charlotte). He’d said he’d help in the hour and forty minutes before work. But when Blair checked her phone that morning, she saw it was already time for him to leave. Then the door to the bathroom opened and clicked shut and he appeared dressed and in front of her in his tie and gray oxford. Smelling like Crest, he’d kissed her cheek.

Stan rinsed his hand in the sink and bandaged it with another awkwardly torn paper towel. — Got myself,  he said. Then he chucked the bag of glass into the garbage.

— I should go, said Carson. Declan cooed and curled his toes in his high-chair. Carson stood. — What a divine little creature. May I hold him now?

Stan watched Blair ease Declan into his work subordinate’s arms. Carson’s hold sagged a little then steadied. Carson said, — My life has been missing something.

— We thought you were bringing Charlotte, Blair said.

— Oh, Char said I was spending too much time with it. Prioritize, she’d say.. It was mutual. We were just two different planets. But seeing what you two have with your toddler, it-

— He’s an infant! Jesus! Remember that, please.

— I’m so sorry – with your infant – it swelled my heart. Do they have special movie theaters for infants? Like the little menus?

— No.

— You can’t go to the movies?

— Doesn’t your fucking vibrator need tending? Stan threw up his hands and pulled his fingers through his hair. His forehead shone. Carson, toes in his golf shoes, scuffled over to pass Declan to Blair. 

— It only needs a little water and love, certainly. Maybe you talk to them. But you can still go to the movies, said Carson.


Perry Genovesi works as a librarian, serves his fellow workers in AFSCME District Council 47 and plays in the sandal-grunge band, Canid. You can read his published fiction in the Santa Monica Review, Gone Lawn, Disappointed Housewife, and collected on Philadelphia, that giant pothole dotted with roads, is where he calls home.Twitter: @unionlibrarian

Photo original: Ashley Walker/Unsplash

Follow Vol. 1 Brooklyn on TwitterFacebook, and sign up for our mailing list.