The Art of Keeping Quiet (Part 1)

The art of not telling anyone is a two-edged sword. One side poses: why shouldn’t we tell family and close friends? If something goes wrong, we’d need them to be there for us anyway; the other: we need three months to get used to the idea.

I’m certainly leaning towards the latter. I can’t bring myself to tell people when my own head isn’t at one with the idea. All of a sudden 32 seems very young to be a dad. Didn’t I always think – without thinking too much – that 35 would be about right?

But as the weeks go on, and with the three-month scan still an age away, I grow restless. Humans, surely, are not designed to conceal such weighty information?

Tash is feeling the same way. About one month in, she tells Rach. Her twin is shocked, even though she’s had her suspicions – prophetic dreams aside. She’d started making little adjustments without a word, such as cutting up brie and not offering Tash any, and going without a glass of wine at dinner, just so Tash wasn’t the only one not drinking. And yet she didn’t ask the burning question. She bided her time, waiting to be told. The telepathy of the two was on show more than it had ever been; they knew the other’s inner sanctum as well as their own.

Although my head is clouded with all manner of weird shit, I do cover some salient ground: that there’s no perfect time; that being a dad while still being young at heart – even if there are a few creaks in the bones – will be cool. I’ll still be able to run around with the kid, take him or her to the footy, netball, ballet or singing class, and dance around like a loony at home.

Then there’s the other thing I’d never considered before: legacy. I’ve got no will, no life insurance; nothing of material note, really, to hang my hat on. Having a child will be my gift to the world, should I exit the big dance early.

All of a sudden 32 seems very young to be a dad. Didn’t I always think – without thinking too much – that 35 would be about right?

I go to a card night at a mate’s house. Tash, who is all set to make her closest girlfriend’s day with the news of her pregnancy, suggests I tell Waz, my best mate of 15 years, if I so wished. She thinks confiding in a trusted friend might help me to better come to terms with the whole thing. I agree.

As the beers and the gutter-talk flow and my wallet lightens, my compulsion to spill the beans grows. The words bulge in my chest; I want to rid myself of the bulge.

Finally, after bombing out of my fourth straight game, and with Waz and I alone in the toilet, cramped and giggly and engaged in a bout of ‘sword fights’ – that wildly unnecessary pissing game that only the most immature of drunken men play – I take the chance to blurt it out.

“Fuck,” he says, the smile spreading across his face. “That’s great news.” Not in a position to shake hands, we hug. Then we head back to the table and re-join the others.

The cat out of the bag, I confide in another friend, Stevo, as we stand out on the balcony, smoking. “Fuckin’ hell,” he says, obviously shocked. “That’s awesome.”

I tell Stevo that I’d told Waz, but to keep it quiet otherwise. Then I get to thinking, as my card-shark mate returns to the table and I linger on the balcony by myself, blowing bluish plumes of smoke into the night air, that this better stop. While I feel as if a weight’s been lifted, I have to remember why I want to tell people in the first place. It is, after all, mine and Tash’s time; it won’t be long until everyone knows.

Then I stop thinking so much and go about drowning my brain cells with Melbourne Bitter until the thought of fatherhood is but a small, oarless boat in the back of my mind.

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