One night I was watching Showgirls and throwing back Moscow mules. The next morning I was staring down a Fact Plus with two pink lines. I took seven tests in all, six of which said I was pregnant. (One was a dud and remained silent.) For the next eight months, I would sit out the drinking that accompanied our weekly ritual -- the viewing of trashy movies with friends: Two Moon Junction, Anaconda, Gymkata, Lost Souls, Caged Heat. If we'd had enough shiraz or sangria or whatever was served that night, our activities might devolve into chain-smoking, wrestling on the floor, or attempts by the smaller, cockier members of the group to lift my husband, a former water polo player with a block-like build and a love for pastries. None of these activities were abundantly wholesome; none were suitable for a baby.
With diapers to change, how would we ridicule the endless horizontal wipes and egregious hair plugs of Battlefield Earth? If I quoted Showgirls in front of my child ("You look better than a 10-inch dick!") would he not be scarred? We'd already warped one infant by rocking her to sleep during the overlit Jamie Lee Curtis disco-dancing scene in Prom Night while babysitting. Now a child of my own was gestating in the blue glow of Black Christmas, the sounds of screams and a scenery-chewing Margot Kidder resonating through the amniotic fluid.
After the birth of my son, many of my fears proved true. People are pretty quick to criticize a mother for nursing her newborn through Friday the 13th Part 3, even though the mood in the room is lively and the only thing in his sightline is a nipple (the mother's, not actress Tracie Savage's). No doubt my husband and I are exposing him to inappropriate cultural stimuli: One fit of fussiness was soothed only by the SNL chestnut "I'm Gonna Pick Up a Shotgun and Kill All the Whiteys I See," which bubbled up randomly from my long-term memory during a long night of colic. To commemorate the day of his birth, we preserved in the baby book the pertinent page from our Onion desk calendar. It recounts Sir Mix-a-Lot lyrics ("Kick it, lick it, watch where I stick it/face down while I punch your ticket") and is sure to be a hit with the grandparents.
Children have certain built-in protections against the ick of popular culture. How I adored Robert Stigwood's 1978 abomination Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as a girl of 6, never exactly catching on that "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" was a song about a serial killer. Mine was the generation that watched Diana Ross coo and writhe to "Love Hangover" on The Muppet Show, flanked by oscillating puppets. This was business as usual.
Maybe these movies will warp our son. I don't know. But I do know we're saving small bits of our own sanity by watching Bats or Bones or Deep Blue Sea, cracking wise about guano and weed and Stellan Skarsgård. These doses of levity help us bestride the yawning chasm between our former selves and the people we are becoming, day by day, transformed by parenthood. What could be more family-friendly?
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