Cutting Teeth: A Novel

Free Cutting Teeth: A Novel by Julia Fierro

Book: Cutting Teeth: A Novel by Julia Fierro Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julia Fierro
offspring in tee shirts with ironic sayings, like the kids were their own private billboards. They wrote blogs describing life as a dad with an irreverence Rip was plain sick of. As if there were something uncool about loving your kids.
    On weekends, the daddies came crawling out of the brownstones, numerous as cockroaches. Nervous they’d fuck up their kid in the few hours they had watch, they were either too lenient, trying to discuss the crime ( Now, Finn, you know we don’t grab ), or overbearing, giving their kid a time-out if they forgot to cough into their elbow. They wore self-doubt like a wet blanket, Rip thought, and left the playground as if they’d surrendered to an enemy.
    Even now, Rip could see defeat coming, Wyatt running toward the edge of the seawall as a look of terror contorted Josh’s sweaty face.
    “Stop,” Josh screeched.
    Rip scooped up Wyatt just as he started to scale the wall.
    “Little man,” Rip said. “You have got to chill.”
    He handed the balled-up boy, still giddy with the chase, to his father.
    “Thanks,” Josh heaved. “It’s Rip, right?”
    “Great to meet you,” Josh said.
    Rip didn’t bother telling him they’d met before. Several times, actually.
    As Josh walked back to the house, Rip watched the man whisper furiously into Wyatt’s ear. The boy sat upright, peeking over his father’s shoulder.
    Rip gave him a wink, and Wyatt covered his mouth to stop a laugh.
    Yep, there was no way in hell he’d be friends with that Josh dude. A dad who couldn’t have fun with his own kid.
    Grace, and even Tiffany—who, lately, was the closest thing Rip had to a friend—had been urging Rip to make some guy friends. Someone to grab a beer with. A pal for a daddy double playdate to the zoo. They didn’t understand he couldn’t befriend just any guy. He wasn’t just any dad. He felt most comfortable with the mommies because, in the last four years, he had become a mommy.
    Could they hook him up with a dad who made his own soap, shampoo, and lotion after his son was diagnosed with eczema? Who baked his own gluten-free bread, so not to aggravate Hank’s allergies? Who knew the names of all his son’s creatures, the stuffed animals (Mortimer, Polly, Pinky, Boy-boy, Nuk-nuk, Greenie) that Rip and Hank had christened together over the last four years. The only BFF daddy for Rip was the guy who, like him, spooned with his child every night while he told stories about the alien boy Zank and his pet robot Zork, and who, like Rip, was psyched to live in a time and place where daddies could be mommies, where they could embrace their domestic gifts, where they could nurture their offspring without being made to feel dickless. Rip baked a mean rhubarb pie and nobody (at least nobody in his mommy circle) would consider him less the man for it.
    It didn’t hurt that Rip knew he embodied what the women of creative, yuppie, hipster, artisanal-obsessed, whatever they were calling themselves these days Brooklyn wanted in a man—the very opposite of their own fathers, whose duties had been limited to conception, financial support, and the occasional advice from on high. Today, the urban, and even suburban, streets were sprinkled with stay-at-home daddies pushing a toddler in a stroller on their way to a Tiff’s Riffs music class, an infant in a Baby Bjorn hanging like some mutant appendage from their chests.
    In the last three-plus years, Rip had logged hundreds of hours at playgrounds, playspaces, and playgroups, and every playdate was a lesson in the new boundaryless definition of gender. He’d be lying if he didn’t admit to enjoying the more obvious perks for a hetero (very hetero, he liked to think) guy living the stay-at-home-dad life. Mommies smelled nice and served delicious snacks. Never was there a bottle of vino under $13 at the playgroup. Each day held umpteen chances he’d catch a glimpse of cleavage, or the curve of a butt cheek winking at him through those tight

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