Some couples celebrate Valentine's Day with wine and roses. My husband and I have a different tradition: We go to the Westminster Dog Show. Odd? Yes, especially since we aren't what you'd call "dog people." But it's just so much fun to laugh at the silly little fluff balls brushed to the nines as they prance through Madison Square Garden.
This year, there was a small twist on our usual date. And by small, I mean massive. We had our 3-month-old baby girl with us. Note to self: Never bring a baby to Madison Square Garden ever again.
The fuzzy pink sleeper she was wearing with a big cat face on the front should have been a sign to turn around and go home immediately. Clearly I hadn't been thinking straight when I'd decided to put her in it.
"Not the best choice of outfits for this crowd, is it?" my husband joked. "She's going to be chased right out of here."
At first, everything was fine. We held her in our arms and she gawked at all the bright lights. People smiled and cooed at her as they passed.
"Guess I'm not going to be watching the dogs this year -- I'll be too busy looking at her!" a woman sitting in front of us said adoringly. One security guard was so smitten that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie could have walked by and she wouldn't have noticed.
And then the arena went dark and the national anthem began playing. Suddenly our calm little daughter was transformed into an infant on the brink of a meltdown. The poor baby looked really scared. But that was nothing compared to the sheer terror that washed over her face when the dogs were paraded out and thunderous applause crackled throughout the stadium. Her eyes grew as wide as I've ever seen them and her adorable little lips pursed into the shape of a tiny "O." She jammed her fist into her mouth nervously and stared at me -- accusingly, I thought.
"She looks really freaked out," I whispered to my husband anxiously.
"This is exactly the kind of thing that will bring Children's Services around," he replied, only half-kidding.
"What should we do? What if she cries in the middle of 'The Star Spangled Banner'?"
"I'll take her out and walk her around," he said. By the time he returned, she looked like she'd settled down. I even ventured with her into the women's room and managed to change her without incident. She almost looked like she was enjoying herself.
But the calm was not meant to last. Another storm was brewing. I blame the dogs in the Toy category. They're a lot for anyone to take, let alone a 3-month-old infant.
A ridiculously over-coiffed Shih Tzu wearing some sort of fake ruby tiara was brought out before the judges. The excessively pampered dog made a big show of shaking her head so that her gleaming white fur flew this way and that. By then our baby had just about had enough. She started crying. No, not crying. Wailing. Loudly. Piercingly.
"Good taste!" a guy next to us said admiringly. "Where was she for the Chinese Shar-Pei?"
The vote against the Shih Tzu had been cast. We'd done our part. It was time to go home.
It's possible the judges heard our little girl voice her opinion. As we were leaving, we saw that the Shih Tzu didn't make the cut. Instead, a crowd-pleasing Pekingese with a mop-like coat and a square black face was the category winner. Little does that Pekingese, named Malachy, know that he may have a tiny baby girl to thank.
Where's the craziest place you've ever brought your baby?
Image via The Westminster Kennel Club