Jesse Savage, a k a “The Beast,” is a dad. Chloe Jo Savage was born last Thursday, weighing in at seven pounds, three ounces.
I (Ben) have always known Jesse would be a good dad. But when did I know that? It wasn’t when we both moved in to Norton Hall in August of 1995. Jesse arrived later than most, having flown cross country just to get to the cornfields of Ohio, but he immediately made his presence known. The first thing he unpacked was his stereo, and soon he was serenading us at alarmingly high decibel levels to Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise.” The man has always known how to make an entrance.
It wasn’t when I walked in on him sophomore year as he was playing, at the same ear-shattering volume, Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual. I do hope Elaine shares an equal role in shaping little Chloe’s musical tastes.
(This is not entirely fair. Jesse did introduce me to Moby and Portishead, and made me appreciate anew both the Beastie Boys and Bach. Forgive me, Jesse.)
It wasn’t when Jesse nearly shattered my collarbone on the basketball court, or the time we road-tripped to New York City and Jesse, all for the sake of a good photo, sprawled out on a pile of trash bags.
So when did I know it? Do we ever really see, looking at our friends in college, who they will be as parents or spouses, ten, twenty, thirty years down the road? Certainly I didn’t on any conscious level. Subconsciously, though, I knew it about Jesse.
I think I first knew it sophomore year, easily the hardest for us both, when we lived together and were united by the common enemy of our third roommate, a repulsively hairy rugby player named Sean. Jesse & I shared the double, and spent many a late night and early morning cramming for our 8:10 American Lit class with Professor Lentz. When, finally, the lights went out, Jesse and I talked in the dark, from our top and bottom bunks, about what it all meant: college, women, life; Thoreau, Dickinson, Melville; rugby players, the smell of reefer, the thud of reggae from the other side of the suite. (“Good lord,” Jesse would say, “it’s four in the morning.”) I imagine some of the best parenting happens in the dark, by the bed, in those vulnerable hours before dreaming. And Jesse has always had those moments down.
The summer after graduation, I visited Jesse in Pullman, Washington, and as I spent more time with Jesse’s dad I saw it in him too. Good parents breed good parents. Certainly we’re not doomed if we weren’t brought up well, but good parents grease the rails for us.
So welcome to the world, young Chloe. You’ve already got a head start.