Baby Fine

MBTA: Arlington St. - Signs of the Past
Image Source: rnolan187

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It’s a Sunday in late August, 1999, in a North Shore suburb of Boston: the first Sunday that screams football rather than dog days. Aside from grocery shopping, I am looking forward to a day of leisure close to home.

The major grocery store is less than a mile away and on a bus route. But I’m suddenly craving a latte from Curious Liquids, across from the State House on Beacon Hill. There is another major grocery store in the lobby of the Prudential Building, which is only a few subway stops beyond the coffee shop. I can get my latte and take a Sunday stroll through the Public Garden. Well, hell, why not.

I take the bus to the train. Because grocery shopping is limited to my at-the-time non-existent cooking skills, I don’t need to worry about perishables, so my plan is to go shopping, then walk back across the Garden and Boston Common to get my latte.

The train is fairly crowded, so I’m standing and holding the bar. In front of me is a pair of giggling girls in full-on Tokyo street style gear. Behind me is a Korean couple seated with their baby in a stroller in the aisle.

We pull into Arlington, quickly. We pull out of Arlington, quickly: a little too quickly for the crazy-sharp corner beyond the station. Suddenly gravity is in play!

The jerk of the train sends me flying backwards, and I land with a thud. Upon landing, I turn on my knees to pick myself up, and it occurs to me that my fall has been broken.

Then it occurs to me that my fall has been broken by the baby in the stroller.

Baby looks up at me. He looks a little sad, but nothing major. But the realization that I have just CRUSHED A BABY hits, and I start screaming “OHMYGODIKILLEDHIM!!!” So now baby starts screaming along with me.

Dad picks baby up out of the stroller, holds him up to the light for inspection and shakes him a few times. Upon passing inspection, dad smiles at me, holds baby up for my inspection and says, “No no, baby fine! Baby fine!”

Meanwhile the Tokyo street girls are in a panic, and the eyes of the rest of the train are staring at anything but me. An air of “glad I’m not HIM” permeates the train.

And what do I say here? “Sorry I almost killed your baby, here’s a quarter?”

No, there’s nothing I can say. All I can do is get off the train and cross over to the other side and back home. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but no latte or box of mac & cheese could compete with a crushed baby.



  1. Fortunately, in the end it’s just a funny story. Funny at your expense, to be sure, but there’s ‘s nothing wrong with laughing at ourselves. Hell, my naked bar dance story will follow me to the ends of the web. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • And I like to think that the kid is now studying physics or transporation planning…

  2. This did not end as I had predicted. haha! I’m glad you concluded that nothing competes with a crushed baby. Very profound, indeed.

    • Yeah, once you almost crush a baby, where do you go from there?

  3. Katie Johns said:

    Wow!! Is this a true story?

    • I couldn’t make it up even if I wanted to, and why would I want to? 😉

  4. Fraha said:

    Now I want a latte! I can picture a pouty baby reacting to your crazed reaction. LOL poor babe. And the father doing a baby inspection consisting of holding him up and giving a couple shakes to make sure nothing rattles.. So true

    • I wish that coffee shop still existed!

  5. *Giggle*

    I’m so glad you didn’t kill the baby!

    • That certainly would’ve put a crimp in an otherwise perfect weekend. ;P

  6. (Okay, um, my comment disappeared when my internet connection bumped out, for some reason. You may get two similar versions of the same thing.)

    Here goes the second attempt— I TOTALLY see how this could happen. (This sort of thing happens to me!) This short piece is so evocative and so tightly written— beginning to middle to end. I am really impressed, Brian! C’est AWESOME!

    • What is it with technology today?!? I’m sitting in the Cube and our MATTEL INSIDE servers have CRASHED AGAIN! 1,000 people in my building and we all have to e-mail to North Carolina by osmosis apparently!

      And wooHOO!!!!!! Glad my mortification could become entertainment for the masses!!! 😀

  7. That’s hilarious..and not…all at the same time. I know you didn’t, but why would you have offered them a quarter? Isn’t their baby worth at least a $20? lol

    • Well, he *did* get in my way…

  8. Awkward moment but more awkward if you would have broken something (on you or the baby!)

    • As baby crushings go, it couldn’t have worked out better.

      • Isn’t life good when you have a cause to write a sentence like that? Thanks for starting my weekend out on the right foot, Brian!

  9. Be a good name for a band–Brian and the Baby Crushers.

    • I LIKE! Note to self!

  10. I almost spit my water out when I read your full nelsoned a baby! I was once kicking a soccer ball around with my nephew and kicked it right into his face. At least you got a story out of it!!

    • That’s a story you’ve got! Get to!!!

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