I used to have a great memory.
Then Luci was born, and I started asking my friends, “How old was your child when he or she [insert major milestone here]?”
It made absolutely no sense to me when my friend answered, “I can’t remember how old she was when she started teething.” Or, “I can’t recall exactly what age he went off the bottle.”
Well, Luci is one and a half, and I totally get it now.
I feel like a bad mom, but I too cannot recall at how many weeks Luci began teething, uttered her first word, went on the swings for the first time, or started recognizing me as mommy. It’s all a big blur, mostly because I’m always just a little south of getting enough sleep, and also because I’m so focused on what she does, I forget to record the day or time she does it.
There are some things I do remember. Luci started solid food at six months, (I remember because before that she was exclusively breast fed), and she took her first steps right before she turned one. Or somewhere thereabouts. Oh my god, I am such a bad mom.
The reason I bring all of this up is because I can’t remember precisely when, but sometime last year, my husband came home and said, “Guess who I saw at the restaurant across the street from Carnegie Hall?”
“TV or movies?”
“No,” he replied.
“Sort of. I’ll give you a hint, he was eating alone.”
“How is that a hint?”
“I said he. ”
“Oh, right. So, not an actor, and not a politician. What am I missing here?”
“You’re missing a major category.”
I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure out the celeb in question was a writer, which, frankly, is an embarrassing category to miss, especially because I fancy myself one too.
I am proud to say that once I narrowed it down to writer, I got Salman Rushdie on my first guess.
“How did you do that?” my husband asked.
“Maybe since your thoughts were already floating out there in the universe, it was easy for me to figure it out,” I suggested.
Before he could stitch together a picture of Salman and Luci, we had another celebrity sighting. In fact, it was so coincidental, it did sort of confirm the universe may have something to do with it.
That Sunday morning, after the Salman sighting, we went out for breakfast, then headed over to Thompson Square Park. I hadn’t been in ages. Luci had been there never.
We put her in a swing, and immediately, Gleeful Luci Face appeared. This is the sort of open mouth smile that warms the heart, while at the same time makes it very difficult to remove her from a playground apparatus.
Nearby, a very striking woman also pushed her child in a swing. I looked again. “Padma Lakshmi,” I said to my husband under my breath.
He stared at me. “When did you start speaking Hindu?” his eyes seemed to ask.
“That’s Padma Lakshmi,” I said, making wild hand gestures in her direction while trying not to yell. It was loud on the playground, and my voice has been known to carry.
We watched Padma lift her daughter out of the swing, and walk her over to the jungle gym. She wore a long flowing skirt, and has long flowing hair, and truly, she is a long flowing supermodel.
“They used to be married you know, Salman and Padma. Wouldn’t you have loved going to dinner at their place? She cooks up food, while he cooks up words.”
The whole playground turned to watch Padma and her daughter on the jungle gym. It wasn’t just me, I swear.
“How weird is it that between the two of us, we saw Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi separately in the same week?” I asked my husband on the way home.
“Pretty weird,” he said.
I couldn’t tell do what degree he was being sarcastic, but maybe he wasn’t, because the next day the picture you see here showed up in my inbox.