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Congratulations! You’re having a goblin!

All newborn babies look similar to this, only sometimes hairless.

In the fifth grade I had a girlfriend named Alaina, who was very pretty and, being so attractive, deserved a good kissing. I was too scared, though, because she was a take-charge kind of girl who always got what she wanted, so much so that she made me get her pregnant.

Well, sort of.

Alaina called my house one night and said she had some big news. A friend was with her, and they were all worked up about something. I thought she was gonna dump me, but it was just the opposite: Alaina and I were about to start a family.

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

I didn’t know what to say, but it was probably something along the lines of, “Mmmphokducktales.”

I was scared. I thought I was in a lot of trouble because I was only 10 and had miraculously knocked up some chick I’d been dating for, I dunno, nine days. After a few minutes, I hung up the phone and walked to my room. I laid down on my bed, Ferris Bueller style, and — suddenly — pure excitement coursed through my veins.

“I’m gonna be a dad,” I said to myself with a huge grin.

I knew it didn’t make any sense to have impregnated someone without so much as kissing her. But I dismissed all rational thought that night: Nothing was going to separate me from my baby.

It was all a prank, of course, but the story is true. Last week’s story of how I found out my wife is pregnant was far less shocking, primarily because I actually had something to do with it. And the fact that it’s real makes it even more exciting and, mostly, incredibly weird.

The pregnancy was supposed to remain a secret for several weeks longer, but my wife treats a secret like it’s a severed head that just landed in her lap. (“I can’t hold this thing anymore!!!”)

The Hansen pee stick, valued at $850.

Within 10 minutes of receiving the result of our positive blood test, she posted a photo of a stick she peed on to her Facebook page, and then came a lot of congratulatory comments and phone calls and text messages. It was a great day.

But it was also bizarre. No one in the history of humanity has been more ill-prepared to be a dad than I am. I still feel like an 18-year-old who wants to spend his days drinking Capri Sun, eating frozen chimichangas and watching “Billy Madison.” How am I gonna raise a child to be of any value to society?

If you’ve ever seen me hold a baby, you’ll know that it’s a bad mix. My technique is this:

  • Firmly grasp the child with both hands
  • Lock your elbows so that no movement can occur
  • Stare directly at the child and never divert your eyes for any reason
  • At the first sign of the child’s discomfort, awkwardly pass the child to the nearest person
  • Exhale and wash hands thoroughly

Hopefully the sheer terror of holding a baby subsides soon because I don’t think one can be a worthwhile father without ever physically touching his kid. But since we’re on this whole holding-the-baby topic, I do have one requirement.

Someone better give my baby a bath before I hold it the first time in the delivery room. All newborns (and I mean ALL of them) look like slimy, heroin-addicted goblins right out of the womb. I’m happy and excited to be in the room for the whole process, but before you hand me the baby, you better at least toss it down a Slip ‘n’ Slide to clean it off.

I’ve seen pictures of the delivery room scene. I might wear a hazmat suit. Mama didn’t raise no fool.

Nonetheless, I’m excited. Freaked out, for sure, but primarily excited. I’ve already told you what the baby’s name will be if it’s a boy, which will make this whole process even more badass. And having a girl would be equally great, no matter how many people tell me that raising a teenage daughter is more grueling than riding in the Tour de France with one leg.

So we’ll see how it goes. Somewhere in the world, Alaina from the fifth grade is weeping at the thought of what might have been…


Living in a fantasy world of nerds

Three guys walk into a bar.

One is wearing wizard’s robe, a fake white beard and introduces himself as Gandalf’s cousin, Blargonzodorf.

One has a bowl cut reminiscent of Lloyd Christmas and a button pinned to his Dance Dance Revolution T-shirt that says, “Math is radical!”

And one looks like Bradley Cooper, dresses like George Clooney and spends his free time managing four fantasy football rosters and worrying if a shoulder injury to Tom Brady will prevent his team, Mayor of Pimpville, from beating his friend’s squad, LadiesLoveMy6Pack, to win the fantasy league trophy made of empty Keystone Light cans.

Tell me: Which of these three is the biggest dork of all?

I don’t think the average person fully understands the severity of dorkiness that resides deep in the souls of people who play fantasy football. Because it is associated with the NFL (America’s most popular sport) and is based on the real-life actions of world-class athletes, its participants are mostly given a reprieve from being what they are: a monstrous collection of nerds.

You cannot deny your place among the village of nerds just because you’re a fan of a manly sport like football, or because you otherwise look like you belong to the “in” crowd. You are a weirdo who does weird things in a fake football league. There’s no way around it.

Today, I’m sad to admit that I am a fantasy football dork of the highest order. I don’t dress like Clooney, look like Cooper (he’s no Gosling, anyway), nor do I have a team nickname that instantly identifies me as The World’s Biggest Tool, but I must acknowledge that I have a problem.

I spent nearly the entire weekend thinking and worrying about my place in Sunday’s fantasy league championship. It wasn’t unlike the anxiety a regular sports fan feels before a favorite team plays — except for the fact that my team doesn’t really exist.

Here is fantasy football explained to the layman: Take 10 green army men, give them names, and give each “player” points for their actions during the course of a battle against another team that is being controlled by someone else in another state. Agonize over the fact that you used one player instead of another, thereby costing your team valuable points, and then sacrifice precious hours of sleep doing Internet research in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Then go call your parents and apologize to them for disgracing the family name by being such an enormous dweeb.

That’s how I felt yesterday when I realized what a loser I am. I was a nervous wreck all day. I ignored my wife for a handful of hours (oddly, she didn’t seem to mind) and contemplated suicide every time the tide appeared to turn against me. I flipped back and forth between the day’s four TV games, and I had three games on at once on my laptop.

I cherished every point I accrued as though they directly benefited the life of my unborn son, Indiana Jones. No one in the history of nerddom was as pathetic as I was yesterday. I made George McFly look like the prom king.

In defense of fantasy football players, there is money on the line — and sometimes it’s a nice chunk of change. Nonetheless, it’s amazing and humiliating the things we fantasy team owners do to put ourselves in the right competitive mind-set and in a position to win money.

I am not admitting that I have done any of the following, but I guarantee you there is a substantial number of fantasy football players who have:

  • Given their team a pregame pep talk to encourage maximum effort
  • Staged a press conference in their delusional minds to answer questions about their team’s performance
  • Discussed (out loud and to themselves) their reasons for using or not using certain players, as though they were real NFL analysts
  • Prayed incessantly for God’s help to beat Da Bone Crushers in order to make the playoffs
  • Refused to brush their teeth because their current winning streak began one Sunday four weeks ago when they were hungover and forgot about basic hygiene

This is the community I belong to. If I were still in high school, I’d be getting swirlies all day long. Fantasy football dorks were made to have their heads dunked in toilet water.