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By Ben Falik
By Ben Falik

Dear Baby … Name Pending

Dear baby … name pending,

You are wearing out your welcome. It’s been 39 weeks. Your mother is exhausted, and your gender remains the source of rampant speculation by extended family and paparazzi alike. In time, I will have extensive gender-specific instructions for you — “sweep the leg,” “change your outfit again,” etc. — but surprises are few and ominous these days so we thought we’d embrace this one. With work and luck, you’ll grow up in a world where opportunities aren’t limited by your sex, your sexual orientation, your religion or your whatever. In the meantime, we have painted your nursery a calming shade of gray.

I was born during an even colder January nearly 30 years ago. In 1982, like today, the weather seemed tropical compared to the economic climate. Back then, Chrysler only flirted with bankruptcy, the unemployment rate was exceeded only by the inflation rate, and my parents moved back to Michigan as tens of thousands left the state in search of greener pastures.

The best testament to the endurance and prosperity that followed — hard work, family ties, Family Ties — may be that I was blissfully unaware of those tough times until long after the last El Camino rolled off the line. I hope that you, too, grow up amidst improving conditions and that you are motivated less by what we have than by what others don’t.

You’ve chosen an interesting time and place to be born. Twenty-first-century Detroit is incredible — both for its unrealized potential and unimaginable absurdity. I have long said that, if irony were a fungible commodity, Detroit could export enough to revive the economy.

Metro Detroit is also a great place to be Jewish. Our community has a strong identity, a good sense of humor — and so many opinions that at least some must be right. And our community’s ironic chief export: You.

Growing up here, you’ll have the education and resources to do anything anywhere, and, demographically speaking, “anywhere” probably won’t be here. Then again, maybe trends will change in your lifetime or you’ll buck them like your wily father.

No pressure or anything.

Of everything you’ll have going for you, your greatest advantage is your grandparents. With even a fraction of their intellectual curiosity, creativity, resourcefulness and fidelity — transmitted through extensive babysitting — you can conquer the world.

I should apologize in advance for both the countless times I will embarrass you and the increasing likelihood that those occasions will be captured on video. Perhaps your childhood would be simpler if I cut my hair, retired my rainbow suspenders and didn’t publish prenatal prescriptions for you in Red Thread.

Your suffering will breed character.

Despite the apocalypse, now scheduled for 2012, and your genetic predisposition for soft-serve ice cream, you will likely live to see the 22nd century. Maybe you’ll even become a centenarian and attend a 2112 Olympics — in Detroit.

In the meantime, I’m optimistic the world will keep spinning on its axis — and we’ll celebrate many balmy birthdays together even when I’m bald and need those rainbow suspenders to keep my pants above my belly

Phoebe Wren Falik was born January 13, 2011, with a full head of hair.



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