Butt Ugly Babies
It is every pregnant woman's greatest fear - no, not that she'll never be able to see her feet again but that her baby will be *~~gasp~~* ugly.
There is a reason why the old phrase, "S/He has a face only a mother could love" is still so often used and that is because there are so very many nightmarishly offensive looking babies out there. Just wander down to your local Coles on a Monday morning if you don't believe me - it's almost enough to put you off wandering down the chocolate aisle to check out what brand is on special that week.
Apparently I - yes me - was considered an ugly baby myself, as were my two brothers. Rob and Dave yes, but me....? My mother might have loved us (still does, I hope) but she has never been one to gild the lily (another old saying but of unknown origin to me). "Oh yes, you all looked funny. You know, funny peculiar, funny strange, funny weird..." Er yes thanks Mum, we get your point. "Weren't we even the tiniest bit - uhm, you know - cute at any stage?"
"Oh no," she replied immediately without a nanosecond's hesitation. "Oh no, we definitely couldn't call any of you that." After a few more moments of introspection, she added, "Although we felt a lot more fonder towards you when you were nearly two, and gave us at least an hours' peace every night when you rode your tractor around the house with a bucket on your head."
Now I would like to console myself with the thought that my own mother might have been what would be patronisingly described as 'refreshingly honest', but that she doesn't symbolise the average mother.
Not in my experience at least. Since my teens I have had babies thrust into my arms or revealed to me by lifting up the top of their prams and at least half of them have been speechlessly ugly. What does one say to a beaming parent who is clearly waiting for you to share her enthusiasm and awe for her dribbling mini-Michelen man? My response tends to be along the safe-for-a-boy remark "Oh he looks so strong and sturdy, doesn't he? No doubt he's going to be a rugby player..." (of the kind with a neck fatter than his own head and likely to contain most of his brain cells).
Butt ugly baby girls are a lot more challenging. Very few mothers want their darling baby daughters described as 'sturdy' or 'jolly' despite what efforts feminism has made to neutralise gender stereotyping from birth. An insipid, 'Oh, she looks so very healthy' seems to be acceptable, as does, 'Oh I can see her Daddy in that face'.
However these socially acceptable utterances can lead you into more trouble - the butt ugley's owner can then insist on giving you the creature to hold as if bestowing you with an armful of valuable treasure. Granted, holding the baby means that you can avoid having to stare it directly in the face but any respite this offers is immediately negated by the additional pongs you have to endure in close-up.
If it's not the very obviously full nappy, bottom burps or wet dribble attaching itself to your neck like a spider web, it is the milky vomity smell that rises up like a sour old spinster during the wedding waltz. "Oooh yes, she's so soft and warm," you coo, handing her straight back.
But it gets worse. "Oh go on - at least give her/him a kiss goodbye." You may want to yell out, 'I'd rather chew my own leg off' but you restrain the impulse and bend down, down, down into the pram, towards the dribble whimple, towards the noxious puke fumes and aim your nervously quivering lips hopefully for towards the top of the head where presumably a little less of the dribble, snot snail trails and breast milk regurgitations are to be located.