|Thomas not pleased on his first day home from hospital|
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How did my New York life start? With an argument.
Early March 1954, in a Woodside apartment overlooking the # 7 Subway El and the Long Island Railroad station below it, two express trains crisscrossed, one rattling over the other.
“Bob, please get me some food.” Patricia pleaded from the kitchen to the living room.
“There’s plenty of food,” Bob answered as he played with the bunny ears antenna on top of the TV.
Patricia opened the refrigerator and eyed the contents for the fifth time in the last five minutes.
“There’s no food-food, only junk. I want ice cream, I want bacon, I want mayonnaise!”
Bob disregarded Patricia’s request and continued to shake the ice around in the spaghetti pot chilling his six Rheingold beer bottles. He took the dish towel off his tee shirt’s shoulder to wipe his hands, and he definitely heard Patricia’s next statement, “Get off your bony ass and go get me food!”
Bob ignored this too, until the boxer he bet $20 on hit the canvas with a thud. It was Friday Night at the Fights and unfortunately, Bob’s man was down. Bob had just settled in – first round, first beer. After the boxer was counted out, the telecast went to a commercial and the Gillette parrot squawked, “Look sharp, be sharp, feel sharp!” Bob, disappointed, but now available for chores, went to his near due pregnant wife and gave her head a hug.
“Get off my friggin head. You know I hate head locks.”
Bob, hurt, kissed Patricia on the cheek.
“Patty, what do you need?” he said.
When Bob returned from the store, he put his five remaining beers back in the fridge, washed the pot and boiled water for spaghetti.
Grabbing a black frying pan he made two huge bacon sandwiches with extra mayo on Wonder bread. After serving Patty both sandwiches, he took a beer and joined her at the kitchen table.
“So, we’re decided on baby names, right? Marc Anthony if he’s a boy, and Alison Leigh if she’s a girl.” Bob said.
“You are so full of shit. The girl’s name is fine. When you name the boy, Marc Anthony, be sure you walk carefully over my dead body, cause that’s the only way that stupid guinea name will ever appear on my son’s birth certificate.”
Bob was hurt again.
“Oh cut the crap and get that stupid puss off your face.” she said.
“So what name do you want?” Bob said.
“R-O-R-Y, Rory.” Patty said.
“Like Calhoun, the movie cowboy?” Bob said.
“Yep. It’s an old Gaelic name meaning Red King,” she said.
“Red? You’re loony. Our hair is black. It’s a girly name and you’re guaranteeing he’ll get the shit kicked out of him,” Bob said.
Bob & Patty began a game of mum. The only sound in the room was the bubbling boiling water. After an endless silence, Bob broke the ice.
“It’ll be Rory over my dead body.”
“I’ll alert the press,” she said.
“Give me an alternative,” Bob said.
“Then I’ll give you one, Thomas,” he said.
“That’s imaginative. I thought we agreed no fathers’ names?”
“It’s not after my father; it’s my brother’s name, too,” Bob said.»
“You mean Stone Face? We’re going to name him after Stone Face?”
“That’s my compromise and you’ll get to name the next boy.”
Patty swallowed a large bite of mayo with a little bit of bacon and bread attached to it. She chewed slowly then wiped her mouth and said, “OK.”
Two weeks later, Patricia gave birth to an eight-pound boy. When the nurse let Bob into the recovery room and he saw Patty cradling the baby, Bob started to cry.
“Oh stop you’re blabbering and give me a kiss.”
“How do you feel?” Bob said.
“Not too swift.”
“How’s Tommy?” Bob said.
“Doctor said he’s fine. Isn’t he beautiful?”
Bob picked up the wrinkled red-faced boy. He thought the baby’s head looked like a grapefruit. A gorgeous grapefruit. Bob held the baby for a long time then turned him over to Patty.
“I have to fill out the birth certificate. I was thinking about Robert as a middle name,” Bob said.
“You picked the first name, now I pick the middle name.”
“No, no, no, you get to name the next boy.” Bob said. “No, I get to name the next boy’s first name and you get to name the next boy’s second name.”
“No buts. I get to pick Tommy’s middle name, and his middle name will be R-O-R-Y, Rory.”
That night, Bob temporarily parked his anger, and rode a cab into Manhattan to his old neighborhood and celebrated his first son by dancing on the bar in Loftus Tavern on 85th Street and York Avenue.
Three weeks later, the boy was christened Thomas Rory in the back chapel of St. Sebastian’s Church. Bob wore a sour face throughout the ceremony.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1955, Bob & Patty told their families they were expecting a second child. Throughout the pregnancy, Patty kept Bob in the dark. He begged for information, and whined for hints. Late in the pregnancy, Bob tried to bribe Patty by hiding candy bars around the apartment, promising to give up the locations only if she told him the name. Patty never cracked. Bob prayed for a girl.
On June 20th, Patty gave birth to a nine-pound baby boy. Bob dropped Tommy off with his mother and went directly to the hospital. The room was lit low and the baby was sleeping in Patty’s arms. Patty appeared to be sedated and gave Bob a little wave. Bob quietly went to her bedside and leaned over and gave them both kisses. Patty gently held Bob’s arm keeping him close. She tilted her head signaling him to lean in so she could whisper something in his ear. Bob pressed his ear to Patty’s dry lips.
“Rory, his name is Rory,” she said loudly.
Bob backed away from the bed. “That’s nuts, we’ve already got a Rory.”
“Middle names don’t count. Rory it is. You promised.” Patty said.
Bob knew he was had. In desperation, he blurted, “His middle name is Robert.”
“Who cares?” she answered.
Patty gave Bob a victorious smile and squeezed her Rory tight.
This is my weekly column in Ask A New Yorker