Why Not to do a Favor for an Old Hookup

During my sophomore year of college I was hooking up with this guy, Wes.  Although our affair didn't last too long (I think he may have been in a long-distance relationship with a girl in California at the time), since we were on the Ultimate Frisbee team together, we remained friends and there was no awkwardness. I last saw Wes on my graduation day in the spring of 2002.  But as is common in the 21st century, we reconnected via Facebook.  Over the past few years I've watched Wes become very successful in politics, get married, have a kid - checking off all the typical "living the American dream" boxes.  Meanwhile, I left my lawyer career and got “divorced.”  I guess I have my adopted dog, Scruffles, going for me, but even he I share in a co-custody arrangement with my ex and his live-in girlfriend who he cheated on me with.  (Not that it’s a contest or anything.)

Other than perhaps a few “Happy Birthdays!” and “Congratulations!” messages, Wes and I didn’t interact on Facebook at all.  That is, until the other day.  He posted that he was going to be in NYC and needed a babysitter recommendation for his 13-month old son.  And I offered. To babysit his son myself.  And Wes accepted – but not until after I felt compelled to defend my baby whisperer skills (since I’m not a member of that exclusive “parent club” and parents tend to treat us non-parents as dangers to their little ones), with statements like: “I have plenty of experience babysitting my nephew and niece” and “I’ve taken a babysitter certification class” (OK, maybe I left out that this class was when I was 13 years old) and “I’ve nannied professionally” and “I’ve babysat hundreds, if not thousands, of times over my lifetime”.

So last night I found myself actually heading to Wes’s hotel so that he and his wife could grab drinks with friends “they have not seen in for a while” while I, a friend he has not seen in over 13 years, babysat their son.  But there was one particular motivation driving me forward – I actually look better at age 34 than I did during my college years.  I lost about 40 pounds and I’m told I look young for my age.  In my delusions of grandeur I’m imaging Wes opening his hotel door and exclaiming “I hardly recognize you! You look wonderful! You’ve lost so much weight! You haven’t aged at all!”

Instead, Wes’ wife, whom I’d never met, greeted me at the door.  Wes was totally MIA.  The wife and I made some somewhat uncomfortable small-talk as she juggled the conference call she had on speaker phone with wrangling the baby into his pajamas, while I distractedly wondered whether Wes ever told her that I have first-hand knowledge of his private parts.

For the next 30 minutes I felt like I was on the toughest job interview of my life as I tried to prove to the wife that I was worthy of caring for her child. I made him laugh, read to him, played with his toys with him, showed him all the cool NYC buildings and taxis out the window.  All the while, I can’t stop making obvious and empty exclamations about child safety to the wife in the preemptive defense that I am capable and responsible despite my lack-of-child status.  Yet despite the extreme difficulty in getting a 1-year old to feel comfortable with a stranger with his mommy in full-sight, the baby and I make a connection.  I felt like I’d “passed.”

Finally, Wes arrived.  I was holding the baby.  I exclaimed “Wes _____?!?!”, and went in for a hug.  Wes went for the baby.  He immediately excused himself so he could “say hi to my wife, I haven’t seen her all day.”  With the priority greetings out of the way, Wes finally gave me a “man-hug” (one of those one-arm pats on the back), turned to me and said “So, I came down with a really bad head cold I caught from the baby.  I’m not going to make it out tonight.  So I’m going to cut you free.”  Far from the enthusiastic welcome I’d envisioned.

We sat and chat about people from college for maybe 10 minutes before it became abundantly clear I’d over-stayed my welcome and was shown the door.  Guess I failed after all.

I’m still waiting for a follow-up thank you and/or apology for my troubles