The following is a conversation I had with Lori, my first voice teacher from back in high school and a caring, funny person who will occasionally pop up on my Facebook and attempt to teach me life lessons.
The sad thing is that this was genuinely useful.
Me: You know, sometimes I wish I hadn't spent most of the last decade being such a terrible, sarcastic, hard-to-be-around person. Now, no matter what I say to people, they always assume I'm mocking them. Even something as innocent as "I love what you've done with your baby!" ends in horrified glares and said babies being rushed away from me.
Lori: Um, that's not... really how you're supposed to talk to babies. They're not curtains or newly refurbished houses. Babies get phrases like they're real people and have dressed themselves.
Me: Oh! Ohhh. So, like, "Wow! Your eyes are super far apart! I bet high school's gonna be difficult for you!"
L: No. Not like that at all.
L: Try something like, "Wow, you look so cute in your corduroys and loafers! What a big boy you are!"
Me: Do babies wear loafers? Is that a thing?
L: Just don't overdo it with the compliments. There's nothing creepier than a grown man who spends too much time talking to a stranger's baby.
Me: I can think of a few things! Ooh, is that a good topic for when I run out of things to say about baby clothes?
L: Absolutely not. Besides, once you've finished giving your ONE OR TWO compliments, assuming you've said nice, non-confrontational things and didn't start talking about war crimes or seal clubbing, the rest of the conversation should be directed at the parent. Ask things like "How old is he?" or "Does she have any siblings?" Easy things like that.
Me: I think I get it! Like, "Are you his biological father? Cause this one looks nothing like you."
Me: Did she have a twin that she ate in the womb?
L: Not even close.
Me: Did you ever have a moment when you weren't sure whether or not you wanted to keep him?
L: What is wrong with you?
Me: This is hard!
L: Seriously, how could you not know how to have a conversation by now? You're 22 years old.
Me: It's not my fault! I never had parents to teach me these kinds of things!
Lori: What? You have parents. I've met them like a dozen times.
Me: *Dramatic suffer-y face*
Lori: They came to all of your recitals.
Me: *distraught face*
Lori: Your mom used to send you to school with baked goods to give to all the other students in your class because she "thought they could use a snack."
Me: *martyr-y face*
Lori: Stop it. You have parents.
Me: Tomorrow I'm gonna compliment all the babies.