Millennium baby

Mixed with an overpowering aroma of men’s cologne is the unmistakable scent of baby powder. Clouds of it float around the room, dusting the floor like late-season snow. In the midst of it, the Lizard of Fun is preening in front of a mirror, humming its favorite Barry White tune.

"Oooh, I’m gonna get lucky tonight," it tells me, gyrating its hips and grinning. "It’s in the stars. Actually the calendar. Well, more precisely, this ovulation predictor kit."

It brandishes a scientific-looking package printed with a picture of a smiling couple that looks nothing like the Lizard or anyone it hangs out with.

"What makes you think you’re gonna get anyone to even look at you?" I ask.

"This," says the Lizard, holding up a newspaper clipping.

It’s a story about a company that’s rounding up piles of prizes – including cash, a minivan, college tuition and a lifetime supply of diapers ("Hopefully they won’t still need them in college," notes the Lizard) – to award to the first North American baby born in the year 2000.

"If you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t win," says the Lizard.

The prime Y2K baby-conception date ("That’d be Nookie Night," smirks the Lizard), depending on which expert you ask and whether you’ve had a baby before ("Practice makes perfect?" shrugs the Lizard), is between March 27 and April 9. That means now’s the time, if there ever was one, to get at it and get it on.

The race, it seems, is on to perpetuate the human race into the next millennium. ("Really, it’s just a desperate attempt to reassure ourselves that the world won’t really end when the clocks tick over to 2000," says the Lizard. "It gives us something to look forward to that’s more fundamental than the New Year’s hangovers we’re all otherwise bound to have. It gives us hope for a future – a predictable future, that is – in an otherwise unpredictable realm.")

Pretty swank talk for a party animal, I note. "Hey, it’s my pick-up line," the Lizard explains.

Already, couples around the world are dropping their Jockeys and jockeying for position as First Parents 2000. A British television station plans to track 10 couples in their attempts ("After conception," I tell the drooling Lizard) to have the first baby of the new millennium, and a New Zealand radio station – figuring that because its country will be among the first across the international date line, it’s got a good chance of producing the world’s first millennium tot – put up 100 couples in a hotel for a night of oooh-baby making.

"So, all I’ve gotta do is find someone who wants that millennium baby, and show her that I’m the best potential papa there is," says the Lizard. "Do you think I’ve got too much aftershave? How ’bout the baby powder? I figure it’s good bait. Also this pair of boxer shorts. Shows I’ve got good sperm motility."

"Don’t lizards hatch from eggs?" I ask.

"Sure," says the Lizard. "But we still get to do the dance of the twining tails. Whooo!"

Trying for the millennium baby is all well and good, and if you’re wanting a kid, you may as well aim for a historic birthdate. But there are a few problems to consider. For one, there’s no guarantee yet that hospitals, hospital equipment, or even doctors’ pagers are free of the Y2K bug. That’s fine if you’re planning a home birth, but then what happens if the power goes off just as you’re about to boil water?

In England, hospital-based midwives are threatening to go on strike for New Year’s Eve, because they’re not entitled to any extra overtime pay, despite the likelihood of an especially heavy workload posed by all these millennium baby boomers.

Then again, they’re likely to be putting in plenty of overtime for the entire month or so around New Year’s. Only 5 percent of women actually give birth on their due dates, so most of these potential millennium babies are likely to be near-miss babies instead.

Of course, you could hedge your bets with a scheduled C-section on a South Pacific island, like a couple from San Diego plans. ("Yeah! Have the baby between opening the champagne and going for a moonlight snorkel!" says the Lizard.)

But what if you’re just being trendy? Even the losers in this birthdate lottery are going to end up with real live babies. ("Oh, yeah," notes the Lizard, fading to a dull brown. "Responsibility. Damn.") And, hey, if the hype about post-Y2K shortages is to be believed, you’d better have started stockpiling Huggies last week.

Besides, think of the problems it’s gonna cause all those kids when they get older: Too many birthday parties to attend at once. Ridiculously long lines when they need to renew their drivers’ licenses. Having to actually make reservations at Denny’s to get their free birthday meals ...

Then again, think about the ideal conception date. That’s right. April Fool’s Day.