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Ruth: For a new grandson, it’s the little things that count

By Daniel Ruth, Times Columnist
Published: January 2, 2018 Updated: January 3, 2018 at 01:50 PM

Hong Kong is a vast, cosmopolitan city of some 8 million people. But for all its sophistication and reputation as an international financial center, it seems to have a critical shortage of, ahem, butt paste.

Who knew?

For weeks now the Bombshell of the Balkans, otherwise newly known as YiaYia, has been feverishly preparing to visit 1-month-old Nathan in Hong Kong. Oh, and his parents, too.

We had requests to include a few items newborns seem to require but that aren’t readily available halfway around the world.

"I don’t think I’m going to have any room for my clothes," the newbie grandmother observed as she began to pack an oversized suitcase. The luggage was quickly filling up with onesies, stuffed animals, blankets and enough children’s books to last the kid until he’s 35 years old.

Spoiled? Perish the thought.

But Nathan, at least according to his mother, was also in need of a few necessities that seem to be in short supply in Hong Kong, including water wipes. Seems simple enough.

If you haven’t been in the baby business for a while, you might be surprised to learn a package of water wipes seem to weigh 100 pounds. It’s the water thing, after all.

And then there was the butt paste. This seems to be a priority for new mothers, since at a mere month old Nathan appears to be really good at only one thing, which he does with great regularity. Ergo the challenge of dealing with baby rash.

You have to hand it to the butt paste industry. Sure, they could have discreetly called their product something like "Soothing Care," or "Baby’s Best Friend," or perhaps "Keister Kiss."

This is also a commodity in great demand. Google "Butt Paste" and you’ll discover page after page of entries. The world is full of inventive, creative people. Think of Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Bill Gates. And then there is Dr. George Boudreaux, a pharmacist and the inventor of butt paste, which generates an estimated $2.5 million to $5 million in annual sales. Boudreaux’s fortunes also were enhanced after Oprah Winfrey touted the product on her talk show. Clearly, there is money to be made in them there cheeks.

Genius can be found in many places, including a bassinet. And quite obviously not only was Boudreaux a savvy entrepreneur, he was also a man who did not mince words. Really now, why bother with fancy marketing/branding schemes when you can get directly to the point of what your product is and what it is supposed to do? When your baby boy is expressing his displeasure because he has been particularly active doing what babies do, a mother doesn’t really care very much what the cure is called. By the way, a large jar of the coveted Boudreaux’s Butt Paste feels like you are holding a package of dense dark matter in your hands. And, in a way, you are.

Eventually, YiaYia managed to carve out some space for a few things to wear during her stay.

At the airport check-in for the 18-hour flight to Hong Kong, the Sunflower of Sparta’s luggage tipped the scales at 50.05 pounds, meaning she might have to pay and extra fee to check her bag. Something had to go. And it sure wasn’t going to be the water wipes, or, you know, the other thing.

This kid is only a month old and he’s already proving to be rather high maintenance.

Transferring Peter Rabbit and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to a carry-on bag brought the weight down to just under 50 pounds. Crisis averted.

With a suitcase jammed with all manner of liquids and that other stuff, I had fears the Marigold of Macy’s would be stopped by humorless customs officials and accused of being part of a global cartel trafficking in black market butt paste. But after the long and tiring trip to Hong Kong she arrived safely with her very precious cargo in tow — blankets, Peter Rabbit, water wipes and, you know, the other thing. Think of this as the modern baby shower equivalent of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Later this month YiaYia will return to Tampa, presumably with a much lighter suitcase. Mission accomplished.

Finally, a YiaYia bearing gifts was introduced to her grandson. A joyous moment for all indeed.

In a photo taken shortly afterward, baby Nathan seems happy and content, with what appears to be a blissful smile on his angelic face.

Gee, I wonder why?