It was a baby shower for my dear friend, Roslyn. A handful of friends had gathered at a local restaurant to celebrate the impending birth of her second son with a delicious lunch and plenty of wine (for those of us not pregnant, of course). As we awaited our lunch, Ros opened the gifts we’d each brought, including mine: a sweet little pinstripe golf cap.
“Oooooh!” Ros gushed. “This will be our hat for trips to San Luis Obispo.” I should mention that Ros lives in a town about fifteen miles south of San Luis Obispo called Arroyo Grande, which is completely charming.
“Wait,” I interrupted, “why is this hat for trips to SLO?”
“Because,” Ros said matter-of-factly, “it’s a posh little cap and one’s kids have to look exceptionally posh in SLO.”
Two of the other moms who live in Arroyo Grande chimed in excitedly. “Geez, that’s so true!” said Kayla. “At parks in AG your kid can wear any old clothes to run around in, but in SLO you have to dress them like little celebrity babies – all name brand and spotless.”
“Yeah, and they have to arrive in a B.O.B. stroller drinking from their perfect little Kleen Kanteen sippy cup.” Giggle, giggle.
“And as a mom, you have to wear giant sunglasses and hold a cup of coffee from some hipster coffee shop.” Laugh, laugh.
“Ooh, and wear spandex of some kind! Or at least designer jeans that cost a fortune. And you have to sit and discuss preschool at UMCC and how much you love Doctor Awesome.” Guffaw, guffaw.
I sat there, mouth agape, stunned that these women had such underdog-ish and defensive thoughts about my beloved town. I was also stunned at how spot-on accurate they were at describing, well….me and all my SLO mommy friends. While I don’t own a B.O.B. and Seabass is far from spotless and posh at the park, he does have a Kleen Kanteen sippy, he is on the waiting list for UMCC preschool, I frequent a certain hipster coffee joint and have a slight weakness for designer jeans. So sue me, AG moms.
But do not mess with Doctor Awesome. Or I will have to kill you.
There is good reason to love Dr. Awesome so much, and it ain’t just his clever name. Dr. Awesome has been a pillar of San Luis Obispo society since the dawn of time, it seems. He was actually my pediatrician as a child* – a fact that, when I remind him of it, makes him smack his forehead and say, “Has it really been that long?!?” He has an uncanny knack for making moms and dads feel he’s listening to what they’re saying, and he tends to diagnose their kids’ problem accurately. What a concept.
Aside from the fact that I’ve known him forever, that he’s a cool guy who has five sons of his own, is passionate about hiking, and drives a restored cherry red VW bus, I think the thing I like most about our beloved Dr. Awesome is that he always asks me how I am doing when we arrive at his office for the billionth time to treat Seabass’ diaper rash, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or bronchial infection. And there’s something in his delivery – perhaps it’s the eye contact, or the gentle handshake, or the warm smile – that makes me believe he really does want to know how I’m doing. His willingness to sit with me for however long and discuss Seabass or motherhood in general is a gift of caring that you don’t often see in a physician, unfortunately. And while I’ve never been through a crisis with my precious Seabass, I have friends whose kids have battled drug addiction, mental illness, and life-threatening situations alongside Dr. Awesome, only to declare him even more of a saint at the end of the day.
So look. Make fun of me all you want. Tease me for swearing by Aden + Anais organic muslin swaddlers, or for having a Sophie-the-$25-giraffe-made-from-Amazonian-rubber teething toy, or for buying cloth diapers from EcoBambino. I seriously do not care.
But if you tease me for gushing about Dr. Awesome, I have no choice but to assume you are as jealous as you absolutely should be.
*Footnote: When I was 16 years old, I went in to see Dr. Awesome because I suffered from massive chest pains. I had been over-committing, as usual, teaching a dozen young piano students, taking a full load of advanced placement courses (and not doing too well at any of them), memorizing ungodly amounts of Shakespeare as the lead in the school play, learning to drive, and preparing for a countywide piano competition. When my mom brought me in, Dr. Awesome asked about my symptoms, felt around my sternum, and checked my blood pressure. Then he looked at me knowingly and said, “Have you undergone any stress lately, Jaime?” Tears came squirting out of my face. “Yes!” I blubbered, helplessly. “Hmm,” he mused. “I see in you a syndrome that we usually only see in, say, Olympic gymnasts or ballet dancers. It’s called Tietze’s syndrome, and it’s basically a benign infalmmation of the chest exacerbated by stress. I suggest you ditch one or two of your activities and get more sleep.”