There’s nothing funnier than what happens when two or more thugged-out looking guys walk past each other with babies. Throw in all the infant care accessories (diaper bag, pacifier, toys, etc.) and you’ve got the Oscars of people watching. What usually happens when the guys notice each other is they immediately establish their anti-intimidation posture. They add a touch more hardness to their walk and, especially if wearing a baby carrier, they’ll do the thug-pants-pull up to let the other guy know he still sags even though he’s wearing a drooling six month-old on his chest.
There’s never any real beef involved. It’s more like a handshake between gangsters. The guys will trade head nods of acknowledgement and keep it moving. The behavior is worthy of a National Geographic documentary or at least a Key and Peele comedy sketch.
Think back to the Game’s LAX album cover in 2008 or the movie poster for 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin. The imaging shows them as two of the hardest-core child protectors since Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop. You may laugh, but it’s a thing with us guys. No matter the cultural flavor, there is a certain coolness to being a badass with a young child. Movies like Shogun Assassin, Taken or anything in the touch-my-family-you-die genre rings true for us.
What’s great is that all the things we regarded as Mommy stuff for so long, are being embraced as well. But it wasn’t until the last couple of years that guys have gotten the aesthetic support we’ve been craving. Today, baby accessories, especially the once dreaded diaper bag, don’t look so much like the purses and women’s gear they once mimicked.
I’m very secure in my masculinity, however, I don’t think that I need to try and breastfeed my kid in a rolling green meadow to show it. This is about cosmetic preference so cut us guys some slack here! The diaper bag I have is from a company called Diaper Dudes. It’s a classic military camouflage with orange accents and it has everything I need, including a changing mat and tablet holder. It’s fully functional and I don’t feel like a church lady pulling out gum each time the little guy wants a snack.
There’s a ton of other options out there even if you’re not into patterns. Designs range from tactical, git-er-done bags to high-end ones for the fellas into manicures and having their locks shampooed with pomegranate juice. The best part about it is that they look cool for both women and men. My wife even likes it because it blends in well with everything.
Given my stance on baby gear, I cannot finish this week’s piece without mentioning how corny baby dadd thugging is. Fine, a little extra swag to show your pride in fatherhood is cool, but acting like you’re hiding an extra clip in your baby’s Huggies is fantastically wack.
No one is impressed, not even the guy you’re doing it for. What always works best for me is a nod and smile of solidarity. It always lets the other guy know that no matter how tough any of us think we are, in about 30 minutes or sooner, we will be wiping the butt of someone who needs no street cred at all to call the shots.
Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe, BET.com, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.