A curious thing occurs to me. Being a baby and being roaringly drunk seems to be pretty much one and the same state.
B only has intermittent control of his own limbs. On occasions, they are possessed by his masochistic alter ego who finds great enjoyment in scuppering all attempts at coordination. B slowly raises his hand, mouth open, staring intently at his fingers. The hand moves slowly, with small wobbles, toward the intended target. Closer and closer… nearly there…his mouth widens slightly in anticipation… just a couple of inches to go… then oops, at the very last minute the hand is diverted upward at speed and he punches himself squarely in the eye. And just like watching a drunk attempt to put a key in a lock or an arm into a jacket sleeve, it provides much mirth for all onlookers. And when I say onlookers, I mean me. Well, looking after a baby is not really high-octane stuff – I have to take my kicks (or punches) where I can get them.
B also lacks focus. I don’t mean in the ‘gets easily distracted from his 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle’ kind of focus. I mean if he looks at something for too long, he goes cross-eyed. And boy, does he like to stare, with that slightly head-swaying intensity that also often accompanies those who have imbibed eight pints. He passes many a long hour gaping at a hand or a foot. And every time he looks at them anew, he looks astonished that he possesses them. I am sure his feet-gazing is provoked by the fact that he has no comprehension of why the hell he actually owns a pair of legs. After all, they don’t bloody work, as any drunkard will confirm.
There is also a startling similarity with sleep. B can doze off, chin on chest, in the chair, only to wake up in bed, wondering what dark force transported him there whilst he was asleep. I can personally testify that I have lost whole tube rides home whilst under the influence, pondering how I arrived on my sofa when my last cognitive thought was ‘Have last orders been called yet?’ And the sleep of the three month old and that of an alcohol-addled adult are not that dissimilar either – both have the ability to wake up with a start, absolutely alert and ready for action, then three seconds later be slumped back into sleep, unrousable and for all intents and purposes, comatose.
And like all good drunks, B has the ability to cry like a baby for no good reason, and then before you have time to say ‘please don’t dribble snot on my shoulder’, starts to laugh like he’s just heard the funniest joke known to man.
And don’t get me started on the whole unprovoked laughter thing. Drunks and babies are equally annoying on this front. I can pull faces, do silly dances and sing stupid songs (just to clarify: I am sober at this point. Being a mother means you no longer need the excuse of half a bottle of Jack Daniels to act like a twat) and B will not crack a hint of a smile. But when I turn away and look back some time later, he is practically wetting himself with mirth. I did ask him to share the joke with me, but he was having none of it. He was looking directly at my hair though, so he may have had a valid reason for such hilarity – I don’t measure my bad hair instances in days, I prefer months as it saves so much time.
There is one further similarity, but for the sake of the scatologically sensitive amongst us, I will draw a veil over any further explanation. Or a fresh nappy, to be more precise.
So. Drunks and babies. Perhaps our drunken nights as adults are a futile attempt to recapture our blissful, stress-free days as a baby. Or maybe being a baby is just a year of practising how we are likely to spend quite a large proportion of our leisure time fifteen or so years hence. Either way, pass the Jack please.