Baby Daddy

My wife walked in the door. I said what I normally say before getting up from my comfortable chair.

“Hey, baby. You need any help?”

She’s always carrying something. Groceries. A sleeping kid. The world’s troubles on her shoulders. I can usually help with the groceries.

She always gets the mail. I think she would freak out if I started picking up the daily bills, catalogs, and junk that the big lady brings every day before lunch.

When my wife didn’t answer my query today, I assumed she was on the phone or nose deep in a hippie-chick mailer.

“Anything wrong?” I asked from the other room.

“Oh,” she said, in a sing-song voice that scares me more than the idea of prison, “I’m just trying to figure out why we’re getting a letter from the Department of Social Services.”

Seconds later, the letter was in my lap (names have been changed to protect the innocent–I swear, INNOCENT–and the emphasis is not mine, but rather the bold type that was actually in the letter).

Dear Mr. Otis,

Our agency is working with Tomato Jenkins to make a plan for him. Our agency is looking for a permament plan for this child one of which is placement for adoption. If you are the father or believe you may be the father please contact our agency as soon as possible so that we may discuss this case…

It goes on, but you get the gist.

My wife said what she later re-wrote on her blog. “If I were a little crazier and a little less confident in my life at this point, I might be utterly unglued right now.”

Let’s be clear. I would understand my wife’s ungluing. That said, and pardon my french, but holy fuck.

It didn’t take long to do a mental inventory of everywhere in South Carolina where I’ve, if you will, sown my oats. I counted to one, looked across the room to make sure she wasn’t in possession of a little Tomato Jenkins, and then breathed a small sign of relief. In the clear.

This would’ve been a little more scary had the first name of the letter recipient been correct. My last name was right on. The first name, however, was Bryan. Still, I felt sort of obligated to call the number on the letter.

This is an an odd voicemail to leave. “Hi there. This is Otis. I got a letter in the mail today asking whether I might be the father of one Tomato Jenkins. I am not [cue nervous laughter and uncomfortable need to make a joke], at least as far as I KNOW, little Tomato’s father. If you need to discuss this further, feel free to give me a call.”

Frankly, I’m hoping nobody calls. It’s already been an odd week in that regard. Last week, my phone rang, and someone literally said, “Otis!” There are several people who address me with that name exclusively, so it’s not surprising to get the salutation. Still, I didn’t recognize the voice and was a little embarassed to not know who the hell the guy was. So, we had a five-minute conversation before the guy finally said, “Is this Otis SIDLER?”

I’m not sure what the odds are on a wrong number for somebody named Otis coming into my cell phone, but they gotta be small.

Frankly, if you ask me, somebody should find this Otis Sidler guy and do a paternity test. Little Tomato looks like a Sidler, as sure as my name is Otis.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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6 Responses

  1. Chilly says:

    No, but seriously I received a call a while back in the wee hours of the morning asking me if I was her daddy. It was late and she was upset and I couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Also a bit nervous as I called my dad at a reasonable hour armed with the number from the caller ID.

    It totally could have been him, but it wasn’t.

    As far as I know there are about 5 people in the US with my name. One is me, two is my dad, three is a professor in Wisconsin, four is an architect in California. There is at least one more but I don’t know what he does.

  2. The Wife says:

    Too funny . . . so understand that high-pitched, nicey-nice voice . . . clearly means you’re toast.

    Hope little Tomato finds his home.

  3. Wes says:

    I got a text last night from a number I did not recognize stating, “You made me feel like i am nothing.” As I don’t interact with anyone enough to make them feel any particular way, I replied, “I think you have the wrong number.” Thirty minutes later, I got back, “very funny.”

    I hope there’s no baby at the end of this story.

  4. StB says:

    Tomato Jenkins. I think I just found the name of my Rock Band.

  1. July 31, 2008

    […] Day cards.  Despite that, the Department of Social services sent me what my wife termed a Baby Daddy letter this week.  That’s just about as unsettling a letter a guy can get after being […]

  2. December 28, 2008

    […] July, I had the oddest and scariest case of mistaken identity I’ve ever had. Read about it in Baby Daddy. It was part of a series of odd cases that I chronicled in I Know Who I […]

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