My wife, who's actually an introvert, has this disturbing propensity to talk to strangers. Not in a creepy way and not with every stranger. Mainly with the ones who have babies.
A few years ago, we were walking by the waterfront and my wife saw a woman pushing a baby carriage with twins. "Oh are those twins?" (dear, why else is she pushing a double carriage). "Why yes, yes they are". "Very nice. How old are they?" "Just 6 months actually, boy and a girl".
The lady proceeded to lift the cover so we could see them.
"Oh" said the wife, not sure what to say, as before us lay what appeared to be a miniature chimpanzee and a baby Yoda. I immediately chimed in with a "they're so cute!", trying as best I could to diffuse the awkwardness of the moment. "Aren't they?". "Oh my goodness, yes, they are just adorable". Truth is they'd be considered cute if we'd been visiting the London Zoo.
Well, as (bad) luck would have it, and much to my dismay, this woman was quite the bubbly one and she proceeded to chew our ears off for the rest of the afternoon with her twin Halloween dolls giving me the "old eye".
It made me ponder. Why do we have to fake it, when a baby is not, shall we say, aesthetically "presentable"? Or, if we have to fake it, how do we go about it?
I mean, let's be honest, not every newborn child is "gorgeous", "beautiful" or "adorable". What if we were to use a more general description like say "breathtaking". I mean when we saw those 2 Chewbacca-looking infants at the waterfront, "breathtaking" was the most appropriate of terms. They literally took our breath....away. "Precious" is another adjective that comes to mind "Oh my, he's so precious". Think about it. It sounds like a compliment, even if the "he" does remind you of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.
What should we do in these situations? Lie, obviously, right? I mean I get it. No parent wants to hear that we don’t like their kid’s face. It's a must, an automatic, that you come to the crib to praise and worship the baby Jesus. But parents, please, for the love of God, do not forcibly ask us, if we think your baby is cute.
After all, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Although I don't know this for a fact, its believed that even Frankenstein thought that his baby was cute. And do you think Benjamin Button's parents thought their baby looked like an old ogre? Of course not. They also were convinced that he was just a gorgeous tot. But let's not kid ourselves, those who came to visit the geriatric baby probably thought more along the lines of "oh he reminds me of my aunt Alice".
I must say though, in the case of Baby Button, I probably would have blurted out a wisecrack like "oh my, he looks soooo... grown up".