The headline kind of says it all, so allow me to tell you a story.
It was the fall of 2004. I was enduring a particularly stressful stretch at the office and my then-ten-month-old daughter was in a phase in which she constantly cried and wailed for whatever reason ten-month-old babies cry and wail. I got home from yet another miserable day and took my daughter from my wife, who (a) had more than earned a moment’s peace; and (b) had to go run an errand anyway. I held my daughter. She screamed in my ear, her entire head turning purple, defying every effort I made to sooth her.
My phone rang. It was the client who had been making my life miserable every day for the past several weeks, calling me at home to extend the misery to my putatively non-working hours. I was supposed to be making dinner, which I promised my wife I’d have ready when she came home. That wasn’t happening now. As the client and the baby both yelled at me, I went online and ordered a pizza from the carryout place around the corner. The call soon ended and the baby was still crying.
About 20 minutes later my came back home. When she came in the door she had the mail in her hand. There was bill that we had somehow missed which presented yet another hassle and put me in an even worse mood. I had, an hour after getting home from the office, reached that point where I really didn’t know how I was going to hold it together for the next ten minutes. Everything felt hopeless.
My wife took the baby from me and said, “So, something to tell you.”
“What is it?” I asked, amused at the notion that I could process even a modest amount of additional stress.
I didn’t have an immediate reaction. My mind was filled with television static and my vision did a fast backwards pan like when Chief Brody saw the shark at the beach in “Jaws.” My knees turned to jello and the only reason I didn’t fall over was because I was sitting down. I continued to sit, silently, staring into middle distance for the next several seconds. I’m not sure what expression I had on my face, but as those seconds passed my wife looked at me with an increasingly worried look. She knew me better than anyone, but at the moment she seemed to have no idea what I was thinking.
I broke the silence.
“I, uh, ordered a pizza,” I said astonishingly calmly. “I’m going to go pick it up.”
“Are you . . . are you coming back?” my wife said.
A couple of moments later, of course, I snapped out of it, all of the day’s stress melted away, we hugged and laughed and smiled and felt all of the great things you’re supposed to feel when you get joyous news. Still — and I think the parents among you will back me up on this — no matter how much you love your children, learning of their impending arrival can be momentarily disorienting in even the best of circumstances. When you’re under even a little bit of stress it can be momentarily incapacitating.
I offer all of this to excuse Wilson Ramos for striking out in the bottom of the fourth inning of last night’s Mets-Cardinals game.
Ramos was on deck when his wife, Yely, walked down the aisle of the stands to the screen near the on-deck circle. She was holding a sign that said “We’re PREGNANT! WILSON, this is your 3rd CHILD. We LOVE YOU.” Ramos then struck out on five pitches. It happens.
The pizza, by the way, was good. My daughter Anna eventually stopped crying and my son, Carlo, was born the following July, happy and healthy. Ramos’ night probably ended pretty good as well.