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Among the many items they give you when you leave the hospital after pushing forth an eight pound bundle of joy from your loins, are Tylenol (TYLENOL? Where’s the damn Percocet?), pamphlets on the importance of breastfeeding, a little seat cushion thing just in case the 479 stitches they gave you cause any discomfort, and a benign looking pacifier strangely nicknamed a “binky?. I•m telling you right now – don’t be fooled by the binky! It sounds so cute and innocuous but it will come to rule your life. My son had two binkies. The everyday binky that rarely left his sweet little lips, and the back-up binky that was kept in a box on the kitchen counter just in case, horror-of-horrors, something happened to the everyday binky. We could not go anywhere without his binky. Its absence in a time of need created a crisis equivalent to the Bay of Pigs. Let me explain. My son was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is a very nice city surrounded by the rest of Georgia. However, there is a very lovely place in Pine Mountain, Georgia called Callaway Gardens. Absolutely gorgeous azaleas, dogwood trees, and all that Southern flora and fauna you associate with hoop skirts, fainting spells and mint juleps. We visited once at Christmas time when the gardens are decorated with a gazillion twinkling lights. Poinsettia sculptures are everywhere and it’s just a winter wonderland. You ride on a little train at twilight through the gardens to get the full effect. Our son was riding with us, contentedly sucking away on his binky, when suddenly, out of nowhere, with absolutely no warning, he did the unthinkable. He sneezed! And he sneezed the binky right out of his mouth! His father and I watched, horror stricken, as the binky, as if in slow motion, hit the floor of the speeding (OK it was 5 m.p.h.) train, bounced off, and rolled down the hillside into the dark of the night. We looked at each other and knew we were in BIG trouble. That night, our son was beside himself as he tried to drift off to sleep. He whimpered, he moaned, he cried, he begged pitifully for his binky until we couldn’t take it anymore! We had to find a binky. So we set off in the middle of the night in a two-kinds-of-water-fountains, back-woods, moonshine-producing, peanut-growing, Southern town. A white woman in her night gown, a black man mostly dressed, and a screaming toddler. There are only two commercial enterprises in Pine Mountain. One is a grits factory, and the other is a small grocery store. We pulled up to the grocery store and debated which was safer – a black man going in alone, or a half-dressed white woman. So in I went. I looked at the man behind the counter and asked in a desperate plea, “Do you sell binkies?? He replied in an agonizingly slow drawl, •Well, ah ought to.? My heart leapt with joy! Until he finished with, •But, ah don’t.? Needless to say, we left the next morning, bleary-eyed and cursing the hold the binky had on our lives. Fast forward thirteen years. We just spent $5,000 on orthodontic work to correct the problems I•m sure had nothing to do with heredity and everything to do with the addictive nature of the binky. My advice - when you leave you the hospital, trade the binky for extra Percocet. Alex and binky.jpg One tired little cowboy after a long day on the trail.