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It was definitely the wrong bottle

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 10:53 a.m. CDT

All we wanted was a nice family photo for holiday cards — something cute and fun and festive to scribble “Happy Holidays” on the bottom of, slap on a stamp and mail out to family and friends. So why — oh, why — did we only wind up with a hundred pictures of my baby boozing?

Someone please explain to me how this always happens, how the purest of intentions are marred by merlot and Miller Lite?

Instead of being filled with photos of my smiling family, my iPhone library is filled with photos that will get me a visit from family services.

The bottles of booze imbibed by my baby never really have alcohol in them by the time they touch my child’s mouth. They are completely empty or still have the cap fastened on.

Not that anyone could tell from the photos. From those, my baby looks as if he will be in rehab before preschool.

Oddly, pint-size pinot-pusher pictures seem to be a cultural phenomenon. Everyone I know has photos of a boozing baby.

Last year, my family got together for my baby shower and my mom’s 60th birthday.

It’s rare when so many of my family members are together, and we wanted to capture the moment by taking a photograph of our family dinner.

I can’t tell you whether the dinner table photo was ever shot, but I can tell you that I have four pictures of my toddler niece stealthily grabbing a corked bottle of wine off the table, pressing it to her mouth and holding the bottle up in the air at an 80-degree angle. Like a boss.

When my son was born, my parents sent pictures of me as a baby. Even back in the early 1980s, long before digital cameras, in a time when film was not to be wasted, there is a picture of 7-month-old me asleep on the couch with a bottle of Jim Beam posed nearby.

And this past weekend, my friends and I celebrated the young parent version of Oktoberfest by attending my bud’s backyard bash. All we wanted was one family photo, capturing us in our Bavarian best, to send out as holiday cards. All we got were pictures of boozing babes.

What makes this whole phenomenon weirder is that I’m not a drinker. No one in my family is a drinker. My friends are not drinkers.

So why is there nothing more hilarious than a picture of a boozing baby?

Is it because they look like little drunks already — crawling all over the floor, walking clumsily, drooling, stumbling, yelling out at inappropriate times, crying for no reason?

I never have seen pictures of babies posed to look as if they’re engaging in any other illegal activity.

Not a single photo of babies buying lottery tickets or gambling or voting. Babies aren’t photographed outside strip clubs (or inside, I’m happy to say).

And with the exception of Baby Herman in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” I haven’t seen a baby with a cigar or cigarette hanging from his bottom lip.

So why do we love pictures of babies looking as if they are boozing?

I’m starting to think the babies are behind it. I never have handed my son an empty beer bottle, yet he seems to gravitate to them like a heat-seeking missile. Once he finds the bottle, he brings it directly to his mouth.

I never have seen him do this with bottles of soda or water. Those he just delights in shaking. Beer bottles he delights in fake drinking.

And I, like all of my friends and family, immediately run to the camera phone to snap a picture, as if he were doing something rare or extraordinary or genius. Something never to be repeated!

Meanwhile, our babies are collecting ammunition. They are ensuring documentation of suspect parenting so that down the line, if they want extended curfews or what have you, they have blackmail material.

It’s pre-pre-premeditated extortion. And I’m falling for the scheme.

We did manage to take a few family photos at our backyard Oktoberfest. I haven’t looked them over yet.

If the pictures are blurry, we may just have to send out a picture of my boozing baby, and rather than scribble “Happy Holidays” along the bottom, I’ll write, “Cheers to the New Year.”

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