The Argentina gamble
(Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport)–I’ve been known to make a bet.
In the past three months, I’ve bet on the toss of a lime, the next commercial to come on television, a rickshaw race, a game of pool, and whether I could throw a steak knife into the trunk of a pine tree. I won a majority of those gambles. Some of them were lucky. A couple required skill. Like most gambles, it usually takes a combination of fate and talent to cash in.
You might see the pattern above. I generally don’t gamble on anything that’s really important. The stakes are never high enough to threaten my well-being and I usually expect to come out on top. Still, I feel I feel a little sick to my stomach right now.
As you might be aware, the wife is on the verge of birthing our second son. I use the word “verge” loosely, as we still have 32 days until she is actually due. Regardless, this cross-hemisphere jaunt to a country at the edge of the world feels a bit gambley to me. Babies have been born a month early before. What’s more, if something unexpected were to happen now, it would probably require a lot more in the way of moral support than the normal apocalypse of the birthing room.
And yet, here I sit at gate B3 waiting to board the first of three flights that will land me in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Several people have raised their eyebrows when I told them I was taking this trip.
“Really?” they asked, and then looked the other way so they didn’t say what they are thinking. And be sure, they were thinking, “What are you thinking, man?”
My parents refused to say it out loud. Instead, just two and half weeks after traveling across three states to see my son, they are returning…just in case–this, despite the fact they plan to be here a week in advance of the May 15 due date. I appreciate it and don’t mean to sound like I don’t. It brings me a great deal of comfort to know they’ll be around in the event of some event that I can’t bring myself to describe. I did have it covered, though. I’m flying my sister-in-law in from Florida this week to serve as a surrogate me. The wife will have three far more reasonable people around her while I’m on the road for seven days.
So, the better question is why? Why would I risk flying to South America when my wife is 32 days out from giving birth?
It’s simple, really. It’s my job. I’ve been on this tour all season long and this is the big finale. I signed up for the ride a long time ago and jumping off the bus now wouldn’t be a great idea. I’m not indepsensible, but it’s good that I’m there. What’s more, it’s trips like these that pay for babies like Dos. When one is paying for a birth out-of-pocket, it’s nice to refill that pocket from time to time.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of odds. Based on a formula of my own concoction, I can feel relatively sure the wife won’t go into labor while I’m away. The first boy was born two days late. There have been no problems thus far with the second pregnancy. The measurements are exactly what one would expect at this point. If I were to stay home instead of going to do my job, it would probably involve a lot of sitting around and wondering what the big fuss was about. That is, I’m making a very educated gamble that I expect to pay off. Lest you think I’m a complete heel, I did turn down my fifth annual trip to Monte Carlo for the following week. There are gambles I’m willing to make, but that isn’t one of them.
So, I’m usually not a gut player. I work the math, use my head, ignore the heart, and do what’s right. This one feels right to me. No need to be superstitious now, right?
This morning as I got ready to pack, I pulled my wife in close and whispered so my son couldn’t hear. “Do me a favor while I’m gone? Don’t go to Joe’s Crab Shack?”
She paused for a second and then recognition lit on her eyes.
“I think I can handle that,” she said.
It was nearly five years ago that the chain seafood joint was our last supper before we became parents.
Like I said, no reason to start getting superstitious now.