In the Matter of SUV-Style Baby Buggies in Crowds, Let's Be Fair

Let me state one thing clearly for you at the top. I am not anti-baby. If anything, I may be the biggest fan of babies you know, especially other people’s babies. In fact at this point in life I think I could say I am a fan only of other people’s babies. If you have a baby, it’s beautiful. Take it from me.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to state another thing at the top also. I think it’s great that people bring their babies to the State Fair of Texas. I saw tons of them there when I went last weekend. We used to take ours when we had one.

Going to the fair together is a wonderful tradition, and, believe me, you have to start working on it before the kid’s nose gets stuck to his cell phone and he learns the word “whatever.”

In fact now that I think of it, I’d like to say one more thing at the top. A lot of people have multiple same-age babies these days, and I never look at them and think, “Test tube.” I think, “How wonderful. How fortunate they are to have triplets, especially since they’re not me.” Really. I love twins and triplets and quadruplets and stuff like that. They’re all little multiple miracles.

Before I leave the top, I’d like to say one last thing. You get older, like me, and you forget a lot of stuff you used to know about children, like when they can do what. But I’m not totally senile, and I do remember some things about small babies. They can’t walk. I know that. I am totally sympathetic. I know they’re not faking.

So, really, I actually have one last thing I would like to state clearly here at the top or in the middle or wherever we are with this. This is not some kind of grumpy old-guy rant against people who have double- and triple-wide baby buggies and take them to incredibly crowded venues like state fairs and airports and push them through crowds of people using their baby buggies to clear the way like snow-plow trucks.

Really. Honestly. I am not pissed. I get it.

Yes, while we’re still here in the introductory part, I will concede that certain kinds of unfortunate mishaps are sometimes attendant on SUV-style baby buggies in very crowded places, like old people getting bumped and spilling their fried food on themselves. But I honestly look at that as a very small sacrifice that old people can make in order to keep the fair a welcoming place for octuplets.

So you have a dark stain in a humiliating place on the front of your pants? C’mon. Isn’t that really what people expect of you, anyway? Get over it and go have some fun.

With those brief introductory remarks out of the way, I will come to my point. Just as there are a lot of things old people don’t remember or never knew about young people, so it is that young people often don’t know things about old people. And, of course, here I am speaking about other old people, not myself, because I don’t need squat from anybody young, not now, not yet.

But when people do get really old, it is a known fact that they can’t walk very well, either, just like babies. They get tired, wobbly, woozy, or, as their grandchildren might say, whatever. They need help and understanding, too.

So here is my simple proposition. If it’s OK for young parents to push double and triple-wide baby buggies through the teeming pathways of the State Fair of Texas, then it also ought to be OK for young adult children to push their aging parents through the State Fair in double-wide wheelchairs.

Listen, I was way fair and equitable up at the top of this thing. Was I not? Did I not bend over backward to flatter the parents of twins and nonuplets and so on and say how beautiful their babies are and how I don’t mind that they push them right up behind me and jab me with the bumper in my Achilles tendon and make me smack myself in the groin with a Belgian waffle? No, really, it’s OK. I mean it. Groins, anyway, who cares?

But if I’m going to be all tolerant and nice and forgiving and everything up at the top about the SUV-style baby buggies, then I think it’s only fair that, when we do get to that point in life, my wife and I be allowed to make our son push us around the State Fair of Texas in a great big welded-together double wheelchair with some kind of cow-catcher out front.

I’m not even going to get into the part about people who do diaper changes right in front of the corny-dog stand. We can address those issues of equity another day.

And what about blended families? Might they require three wheelchairs welded together? We’ll put that question on the back burner for now. Hell of a job for the adult children, though.

I’m sorry, what? You wonder why I think I could ever get my son to push us around the fair in a double-wide wheelchair? Listen. The secret to a happy old age is vengeance.

What about the young adults themselves? Should they be allowed to have wheelchairs for their friends who are stoned? Too complex an issue for me.

Bottom line here is between babies and geezers. I see this is as strictly a good-for-the-goose good-for-the-gander type deal. If babies get the right-of-way at the State Fair, so should the geezers. Tell me what I’m missing.
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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze